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At The Movies

Turn to TWC News every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for the At the Movies report featuring reports on movies, DVD releases, the hottest websites and more!



08/23/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
Albany/HV: Movie Review: 'The Trip to Italy'
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In 2010, British funnymen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon checked in with a movie called "The Trip." Now comes the sequel, and it's called "The Trip To Italy."

Just like in the first movie, Coogan and Brydon are reviewing some top restaurants, except this time, the locale had changed from Northern England to the Amalfi coast.

Touring around in a mini-Cooper, the premise is just a basic set up for these two skilled comedians to riff on all different types of subjects, trying to one-up each other and crack each other up along the way.

In the first film, Coogan was a womanizer, while Brydon was more of a stable family guy. Now, their roles have sort of switched. Coogan has mellowed considerably and bemoans middle age, while Brydon's marriage has become rocky and he's considering having an extramarital affair. These two also dispense some notable quotes from Byron and Shelly along the way.

But the plot points are secondary to the humorous conversations that these two have in restaurants and on the road. The dueling Michael Caine imitations, a highlight of the first movie, are back. This time, it's their take on the last Batman movie with Tom Hardy, Christian Bale and Caine as the targets.

There are lots of other imitations here, too, some better than others, but more often than not the humor hits the mark.

Even though the first movie was fresher and funnier, what makes the sequel work is the undeniable chemistry between these two men. The largely improvised dialogue is witty and sometimes laugh out loud funny and some of their keen observations on minutia is priceless.

Directed, once again, by Michael Winterbottom, the Italian scenery, from Campagana to Capri is sumptuous and the food looks so delicious that I often wanted to leap into the screen and take a bite.

Overall, it's very smart and entertaining, and if Coogan, Brydon and Winterbottom want to do a third film, I'd be more than happy to take another ride with them.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple rating: Three apples


08/16/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
Albany/HV: Movie Review: 'About Alex'
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A new film tries to update the 1983 classic "The Bill Chill," as old college friends reunite, sparks fly and old wounds are opened. It's called "About Alex." Neil Rosen filed the following review.

A group of familiar television actors team up in a new film that tries to update the classic formula of "The Big Chill." It's called called "About Alex."

When Alex, played by Jason Ritter, tries unsuccessfully to kill himself, several of his close college friends reunite for a long weekend to lend him their support.

Over the course of a few days, as this bunch indulges in good food, drink and drugs, old jealous feelings, resentments and romantic rivalries are reignited, pushing the limits of everyone's long standing friendships. The college pals include Nate Parker, Maggie Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield and Max Minghella. Director Jesse Zwick makes no secret about trying to emulate "The Big Chill," as he makes obvious references to that film throughout.

Zwick even goes as far as to invoke Jeff Goldblum's name at one point, who was one of the stars of that film. But I think Zwick is also trying to emulate the TV series "Thirtysomething," which his dad, Ed Zwick, created, but unlike that program, or "The Big Chill," you won't really care about what's happening on screen here.

The humor, for the most part, is lacking and you'll have very little fondness for any of these characters or the individual, personal crisis that each of them is dealing dealing with. The one exception is Greenfield, who is quite funny as a cranky, cynical, bitter guy who's always spewing fun cultural references. I would have preferred to see a whole movie just built around him.

Most of the characters are superficial and underdeveloped, while the film itself is filled with predictable scenarios. Strong performances by the cast elevate the material, but it's simply not enough.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 1.5 Apples


08/09/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
Albany/HV: Daniel Radcliffe Talks 'What If'
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08/02/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
Albany/HV: Movie Review: 'Get On Up'
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The life and times of musical legend James Brown, known as "The Godfather Of Soul," gets the big screen treatment in a brand new bio pic. It's called "Get On Up."

From his humble beginnings in the South to his becoming a superstar in the world of music, this is a look at the man who was dubbed the hardest working man in show business.

Chadewick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson last year in 42, plays James Brown. He's remarkable here, capturing the many sides of this iconic performer.

On stage, Boseman gets Brown's dance movies and unbriddled energy down pat, and these musical numbers are electrifying. Off stage, Boseman also hits all the right notes, in all phases of James Brown's life.

Unfortunately, the movie itself is riddled with problems. Director Tate Taylor, who also did "The Help," takes a non linear approach as he quickly jumps from one time period time to another for no apparent reason. The fourth wall is broken periodically, with Brown talking directly to the camera, and it feels out of place.

The narrative is unsatisfying as it leaves lots of unanswered questions. For example, there's a scene of Brown, in the 1980's, trying to outrun several police cars. His insane behavior is never explained, so we don't really know what led to his deterioration.

Other issues, like Brown's domestic violence charges are barely touched upon, while the screenplay fails to draw you in emotionally.

The film is over two hour and a quarter hours, but seems much longer as several scenes, especially near the end, feel redundant while others just drag on.

The supporting cast, which includes Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as maternal figures, and Dan Aykroyd as his longtime manager do perfunctory work.

One standout is Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd, Brown's longtime musical sideman and loyal friend. The whole thing is really Boseman's show, though.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2.5 Apples


Updated 07/26/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
Albany/HV: Emma Stone, Colin Firth talk "Magic in the Moonlight"
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Woody Allen's latest romantic comedy is "Magic in the Moonlight." It takes place during the 1920's in the South Of France where Colin Firth plays a world famous magician trying to debunk a self proclaimed medium, played by Emma Stone.


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