Screeners

PACINO LOSES HIS GRIP

PACINO LOSES HIS GRIP

By | January 29, 2015 at 1:14 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons THE HUMBLING Not unlike BIRDMAN in exploring themes of performance, madness and identity, Pacino’s latest big screen offering plays loose with his actual persona as a gifted stage actor who discovers he’s inexplicably lost his grip on the...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

“ALICE” FADES AWAY

“ALICE” FADES AWAY

By | January 22, 2015 at 4:10 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons STILL ALICE I was reluctant to see this film. All I knew was that the subject was Alzheimer’s Disease. Having dealt with this tragic illness with not so elderly friends in real life, I assumed the film would be a major downer, no matter how it was...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

TAKEN AGAIN!

TAKEN AGAIN!

By | January 15, 2015 at 11:20 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons   TAK3N As I write this, TAK3N is opening to a predicted $40 million weekend. That’s amazing for such a lame, lackluster, talky, clichéd and hackneyed film. That said, Liam Neeson somehow retains the audience’s good will throughout the...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

“LEFT BEHIND” — THE WORST MOVIE OF 2014

“LEFT BEHIND” — THE WORST MOVIE OF 2014

By | January 8, 2015 at 3:15 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons As singled out in this column over the last several weeks, we’ve had a treasure trove of exceptional films in 2014. But there were also a passel of movies that were disappointing, but not awful. There’s INTERSTELLAR, the first third was gripping and...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

“BOYHOOD” — BEST MOVIE OF 2014?

“BOYHOOD” — BEST MOVIE OF 2014?

By | January 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons  This wonderful film doesn’t just follow the youthful life of six year-old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family, it fully enters it. During the running time of 164 minutes – which passes quickly -- 12 real years flash by as the family deals with...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

BEST MOVIES OF 2014?

BEST MOVIES OF 2014?

By | December 23, 2014 at 9:05 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons This year, especially the last six months, has delivered a rush of excellent films. In no particular order, here’s my top twelve. There were at least a dozen more titles that might have been included, but for various reasons those films did not linger as...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

HOLIDAY HOME THEATER FUN

HOLIDAY HOME THEATER FUN

By | December 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons For many of us, traditional Christmas movies are a ritual. Feeling good about the unasked-for-gift of life can be especially hard during this festive season with news of irrational evil and bloodletting here and abroad. However, great holiday movies can be...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

MIKE NICHOLS’ FORGOTTEN FILM?

MIKE NICHOLS’ FORGOTTEN FILM?

By | December 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm | No comments

By Robin E, Simmons    When Mike Nichols died last month at 83, there was an outpouring of deserved accolades for the acclaimed performer and director of films and plays (he won nine Tonys). The river of tributes always mentions, at the very least, 1967’s THE GRADUATE...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

SWEET ANTICIPATION

SWEET ANTICIPATION

By | December 3, 2014 at 9:50 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons This time of year is wonderful for movies lovers. We get some of the very best of cinema’s potent magic to explore issues and stories both intimate and universal. Whether comic, tragic or fantastical, the quality and craftsmanship in all areas is often...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

A SMALL FEAST OF FILMS

A SMALL FEAST OF FILMS

By | November 27, 2014 at 11:35 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons What’s your favorite Thanksgiving movie? Go ahead, take your time. For most people, nothing immediately comes to mind. Okay, maybe PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES. Wonder why that is. With all the movies that use a holiday as a theme or title (most of...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

FEEDING THE BEAST

FEEDING THE BEAST

By | November 13, 2014 at 11:45 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons This week, there was a TV news report about a cameraman who filmed the hijacking of his own news van by a gunman and the subsequent, dramatic arrest of the hijacker at a gas station. It was a sensational and gripping report, but was it really “news”?...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

ULTIMATE HERO’S JOURNEY

ULTIMATE HERO’S JOURNEY

By | November 6, 2014 at 12:59 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons INTERSTELLAR The most anticipated movie of the year propels the audience into a visually dazzling and thrilling journey that challenges the mind and touches the heart. Co-writer and director Christopher Nolan already has an astonishing track record...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

DIY HALLOWEEN HORROR FEST

DIY HALLOWEEN HORROR FEST

By | October 30, 2014 at 3:25 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons About this time of year, all over the world, there are festivals honoring the dead. There is no astronomical significance to the date as formerly pagan but now “Christianized” holidays attest. Some scholars think that at the dim recesses beyond the...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MURRAY

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MURRAY

By | October 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons ST. VINCENT It’s a very thin line that separates treacly sweet sentimentality and honest emotions when it’s on the big screen. The former triggers a gag reflex and the latter warms the cockles of one’s heart. Bill Murray shines in this comedic...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

A MODERN HITCHCOCK

A MODERN HITCHCOCK

By | October 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons TWO FACES OF JANUARY Writer Hossein Amini (DRIVE) makes his directing debut with this slick, atmospheric, romantic thriller set in the sun drenched Mediterranean locales of Athens, Crete and Istanbul circa 1962. Patricia Highsmith's novel of intrigue is...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

LAUREL & HARDY FOREVER

LAUREL & HARDY FOREVER

By | October 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons All over the world, every second of every day around the clock, someone is laughing out loud at a Laurel & Hardy comedy. A living stream of laughter emanating into the cosmic void is not a bad legacy from two exceptional members of our erratic species...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

‘GIRL’ SCORES A BULLSEYE

‘GIRL’ SCORES A BULLSEYE

By | October 1, 2014 at 4:55 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons GONE GIRL David Fincher’s meticulous take on Gillian Flynn’s global best seller (nearly nine million copies!) will not disappoint fans of the book and those who have not read it. This dark thriller is war of the sexes on steroids. Fincher is a proven...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

OLD SCHOOL BLOODY NOIR THRILLER

OLD SCHOOL BLOODY NOIR THRILLER

By | September 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Liam Neeson’s back in fine form as unlicensed private eye Matt Scudder hunting a particularly vicious killer. Writer director Scott Franks has a clear vision and masterly control over the story he’s putting on the...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

FUNNY FOODIES ON THE ROAD. AGAIN.

FUNNY FOODIES ON THE ROAD. AGAIN.

By | September 17, 2014 at 9:28 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons THE TRIP TO ITALY I laughed out loud at THE TRIP, Michael Winterbottom’s initial foray into northern England’s best rural restaurants with semi-fictionalized versions of comic actors Steve Coogan and Michael Brydon. The best bits were the extended,...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

SEPTEMBER TREATS

SEPTEMBER TREATS

By | September 10, 2014 at 9:25 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons September brings an end to summer’s big, loud, popcorn, tent-pole extravaganzas about super heroes, robots and monsters. Fall ushers in a time of indie, art, foreign dramas and sly comedies. It’s a favorite movie time for adult movie fans. Some of...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

LONG SHOTS

LONG SHOTS

By | September 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons Nothing is a sure thing, especially movies and horse racing. It’s fun to discover a sleeper that comes out of nowhere and connects with a wide audience. But movies that are about long shots and underdogs almost always satisfy, even when we’ve seen the...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

A WELCOME DOSE OF AWE & WONDER

A WELCOME DOSE OF AWE & WONDER

By | August 27, 2014 at 9:53 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons As I write this, the TV is on and the news continues to be depraved, bloody and grotesque. What’s happening to us and our world? It’s been a while since I sensed beauty, wonder and awe on our home planet. I am not in denial about the issues we face as...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

“…OR NOT TO BE.” RIP ROBIN WILLIAMS

“…OR NOT TO BE.” RIP ROBIN WILLIAMS

By | August 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons As I write this, the news of Robin Williams’ suicide is just breaking. When you read this days later, there will no doubt have been reams of newspaper and magazine headlines and cover stories as well as massive amounts of social media analysis that...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

ONE MAN SHOW

ONE MAN SHOW

By | August 13, 2014 at 11:11 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons LOCKE At a special screening and Q&A at Cinemas Palme d’Or, I was blown away by writer/director Steven Locke’s incredibly tense and compelling story that takes place on the road and in the car as composed and determined Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy),...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

ANOTHER LOOK AT “NOAH”

ANOTHER LOOK AT “NOAH”

By | July 30, 2014 at 6:35 pm | No comments

The home video release of Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH this week rekindled a soft wave of debate between those who were vexed that the movie strayed from a stricter interpretation of a slim passage in Genesis and this who wanted less “God stuff” than the movie actually...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

TRICKY FINGERS

TRICKY FINGERS

By | July 23, 2014 at 4:55 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons PICKPOCKET The first time I saw French director Robert Bresson’s PICKPOCKET (1959), I thought it was oddly amateurish and strangely stilted – but I was hypnotized by the precisely controlled, cool, black and white images and nearly expressionless...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

TO BE ALIVE

TO BE ALIVE

By | July 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons LIFE ITSELF Director Steven James (HOOP DREAMS) has fashioned a heartfelt and absorbing portrait of the most famous and accessible pop movie critic of our time – the late Roger Ebert. But this upbeat tribute is much more than a look at Ebert’s...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

BIG BOTS BACK IN BATTLE

BIG BOTS BACK IN BATTLE

By | June 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION There’s nothing that any movie critic can say that will impact the box office of this silly, loud, violent juggernaut that just won’t quit. It will go on forever as long as it continues to be a virtual license to print...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

ADVENTURE ABOVE THE CLOUDS!

ADVENTURE ABOVE THE CLOUDS!

By | June 18, 2014 at 6:10 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons  HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 As gorgeous as any animated film yet, DreamWorks Animation’s epic and thrilling 3-D adventure sequel is a joy to behold. It soars, swoops and finally resonates on an authentic emotional level that connects, enhances and...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

A FINE ROMANCE

A FINE ROMANCE

By | June 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm | No comments

By Robin E, Simmons WORDS AND PICTURES Last month, I incorrectly said this fine film opened on the wrong date. It actually opens Friday, June 13, at Palm Desert’s Cinemas Palme d’Or. I’m glad I have another chance to recommend this wonderful adult romantic drama....

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

MIND BENDING MURDER

MIND BENDING MURDER

By | June 4, 2014 at 6:40 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons COLD IN JULY Director Jim Mickle’s last film, WE ARE AS WE ARE, blew me away. It was atmospheric, horrifying and bloody beautiful. Mickle‘s current movie delivers an old school thrill ride that would make Hitchcock. sweat. The twisty plot and a moody...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

TEACHERS SPAR & SPARK

TEACHERS SPAR & SPARK

By | May 29, 2014 at 2:03 am | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons WORDS & PICTURES A big favorite at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival – I think there were a total of three sold-out screenings – Fred Schepisi’s engaging adult romantic melodrama about two teachers at a Maine prep school who...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

WW II BRIT PROPAGANDA IS A SMASH

WW II BRIT PROPAGANDA IS A SMASH

By | May 21, 2014 at 9:05 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons WENT THE DAY WELL? Maybe the best movie I’ve seen all summer was recently broadcast on Turner Classic Movies for the first time 70 years after it was initially released. Based on a 1940 Graham Greene short story ("The Lieutenant Died Last"), this...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

KING OF BEASTS, TASTY TREATS & A DARK DRIVE

KING OF BEASTS, TASTY TREATS & A DARK DRIVE

By | May 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons GODZILLA In 1954 King Kaiju first stomped his way into our collective cinematic consciousness. Sixty years and 28 incarnations later, Gareth Edwards and Legendary Pictures deliver an origin story that incorporates a contemporary sensitivity with cutting...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners

COMING SOON!

COMING SOON!

By | May 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm | No comments

By Robin E. Simmons After informally surveying, or possibly annoying, dozens of strangers in Westfield’s food court, more than 80% of the people I spoke to said they were planning to see a movie in a theater this summer. Only 80%! Sometimes I assume that everyone is a movie...

Posted in: Columns, Screeners