Matthew McConaughey and ‘Mud’ are as good as it gets

Matthew McConaughey in 'Mud'
Matthew McConaughey in ‘Mud’

[rating=4]Starring:  Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Bonnie Sturdivant, Sam Sheppard, Michael Shannon and Joe Don Baker
Writer(s):  Jeff Nichols
Director(s):  Jeff Nichols

“Ellis” (Sheridan) and “Neckbone” (Lofland) are two teen boys living on a river in Arkansas who make an amazing find one day.  A boat, stuck in a tree.  They immediately decide it is theirs, until they look inside and discover that someone is living there.  There being a somewhat remote island up-river from where they live.  The boat’s occupant is Matthew McConaughey, who tells them his name is “Mud” and he wants to make a deal with the boys.  If they will supply him with food, he will let them have the boat.  He’s waiting to meet someone and once that someone and he connect, he’s leaving.  The boys agree to the deal.

Read moreMatthew McConaughey and ‘Mud’ are as good as it gets

‘Pain & Gain’ doesn’t hurt… much… but is Michael Bay’s best since ‘The Rock’

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Mark Wahlberg in 'Pain & Gain'
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Mark Wahlberg in ‘Pain & Gain’

[rating=3]Starring:  Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Michael Rispoli and Kelli Lefkovitz
Writer(s):  Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (screenplay), based on the articles written by Pete Collins
Director(s):  Michael Bay

The new film from director Michael Bay, Pain & Gain, is based on a true story involving kidnapping, torture and murder.  The criminals were bodybuilders who worked out at the same gym in Miami.  “Daniel Lugo” (Wahlberg) was a personal trainer at the gym, which was owned by “John Mese” (Corddry).  Lugo got himself hired by promising to triple the membership, which he did.  But he wanted more from life, especially after attending a success seminar put on by “Johnny Wu” (Jeong); who divided people into two groups.  Doers and Donters.  Lugo wanted to be a doer.

Read more‘Pain & Gain’ doesn’t hurt… much… but is Michael Bay’s best since ‘The Rock’

Buy a big tub of popcorn for ‘Oblivion’

Tom Cruise in 'Oblivion'
Tom Cruise in ‘Oblivion’

The dystopian surface of Earth shown at the outset of Oblivion is not a place that any human being in their right mind would choose to live.  Barren, filled with zones of high radioactivity and still populated by the “Scavs” (who are supposedly the remnants of an invasion force); almost no humans live there.  They are all on “Tet” a gigantic ship in orbit around the planet, or on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn.  The planet was ravaged by the invasion of the Scavs, who blew up the Moon along with creating havoc on Earth.

Read moreBuy a big tub of popcorn for ‘Oblivion’

Emily Blunt shines in ‘Arthur Newman’, but film does not

Emily Blunt and Colin Firth bond in 'Arthur Newman'
Emily Blunt and Colin Firth bond in ‘Arthur Newman’

“Wallace Avery” (Colin Firth) is the man who could have been somebody.  He was a golf pro with talent but lacking the ability to handle pressure-filled situations.  Now he’s a manager at Fed-Ex who dreamt of becoming the company’s CEO and will never get there.  He has a son, an ex-wife and a girlfriend, all of whom he seems to disappoint with great consistency.

Read moreEmily Blunt shines in ‘Arthur Newman’, but film does not

‘Lotus Eaters’ has its moments, but not enough of them

Antonia Campbell-Hughes stars in 'Lotus Eaters'
Antonia Campbell-Hughes stars in ‘Lotus Eaters’

“Less is more” – famous quote

Actually there are times when less is simply less.  Sadly, Lotus Eaters is one of those times.  I’s 78 minute running time might be its strongest attribute, although there are some good things to be found here.  That is, f you’re willing to look past the parts that aren’t quite up to snuff.

Read more‘Lotus Eaters’ has its moments, but not enough of them

‘Scary Movie 5’ is about as far away from funny as a comedy can get

Sarah Hyland isn't looking to good in 'Scary Movie 5'
Sarah Hyland isn’t looking to good in ‘Scary Movie 5’

[rating=1]Starring: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Charlie Sheen
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: David Zucker, Pat Proft

With the Scary Movie sequels, I’ve always found that I was very critical of them on the first watch but seeing them makes me feel I was being too harsh. I’ve ended up seeing Scary Movie 5 twice, but I can’t say the same. There’s simply nothing in it that will register as anything even remotely close to hilarious.

Read more‘Scary Movie 5’ is about as far away from funny as a comedy can get

‘42’ is the best baseball movie in ages

Chadwick Boseman is Jackie Robinson in '42'
Chadwick Boseman is Jackie Robinson in ’42’

[rating=4]Starring:  Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Andre Holland, Lucas Black, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater, T.R. Knight, John C. McGinley, Max Gail and Brett Cullen
Writer(s):  Brian Helgeland
Director(s):  Brian Helgeland

In 1945, Branch Rickey (Ford) was the part-owner, club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He was also a man on a mission. He wanted to break the “color barrier” in Major League Baseball.  He needed a Negro who was not just a great player, but one who could withstand the blistering, withering assault that would come from those who didn’t want to see this barrier broken.

He chose Jackie Robinson (Boseman) and history was made.

Read more‘42’ is the best baseball movie in ages

Alexandra McGuinness, ‘Lotus Eaters’ writer/director, talks filming in black & white

Alexandra McGuinness in black-and-white
Alexandra McGuinness in black-and-white

Lotus Eaters is a new film that has just opened in limited release in New York City and Los Angeles, from writer/director Alexandra McGuinness (Brendan Grant is the co-writer of the script).  She talked with TailSlate recently about the film and films in general:

Read moreAlexandra McGuinness, ‘Lotus Eaters’ writer/director, talks filming in black & white

‘The Company You Keep’ has a great cast… too bad the script isn’t as good

Robert Redford stars in and directs 'The Company You Keep'
Robert Redford stars in and directs ‘The Company You Keep’

[rating=3]Starring:  Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root and Jacqueline Evancho
Writer(s):  Lem Dobbs (screenplay) and Neil Gordon (novel)
Director(s):  Robert Redford

Redford produces, directs and stars in this film that takes a look at the life of a man who has been on the run for more than three decades.

Read more‘The Company You Keep’ has a great cast… too bad the script isn’t as good