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Upper East Side Theater

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Insightful Perspectives on Upper East Side Movies
Updated: 22 min 27 sec ago

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 20:09
       Buried among the start of the summer "blockbuster" season is this gem of an Indie film, based on the true story of Indian Mathematician, Srinivasa  Ramanujan, the first Indian to be awarded a Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.        Fans of "A Beautiful Mind" and "Good Will Hunting" will certainly appreciate a story centered around mathematics. But rest assured, you don't need be a math scholar to appreciate the moving and human story of this brilliant man. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) plays Ramanujan, and once he leaves India for England in 1918, he begins a five year collaboration with the mathematician G. H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons).        The friendship that develops between the two men is the core of the story. The very human drama doesn't shy away from the racism and class struggles of the period. Mr. Ramanujan's life in England is far from easy but his early critics and scholarly snobs soon can't ignore his brilliant mind. Mr. Hardy and John Littlewood remain his biggest supporters and working together amass volumes of work that are still studied and applied in today's mathematics.          Mr, Patel and Mr. Irons have wonderful chemistry together and Mr. Patel is such a charming and engaging actor, it's easy to root for his character to succeed. While the script focuses on the two men, there is a sub-plot of Mr. Ramanujan's wife, (Devika Bhise) and mother (Arundhati Nag) that he left behind in India that becomes integral to the story.           The is a terrific drama anchored by two excellent performances and a story not easily forgotten.
Categories: Blogs

Money Monster

Mon, 05/16/2016 - 20:03
     Director Jodie Foster brings out one of George Clooney's best performances in years in this new thriller. Mr. Clooney plays Lee Gates, the host of a TV financial advice show, high on entertainment as well as stock tips. His director, Patty Flynn, is played by a very effective Julia Roberts.       What starts out as typical episode for them soon escalates into a tense hostage situation when a young man named Kyle ( Jack O'Connell) takes over the studio with a gun and an explosive packed vest. Ms. Foster balances comedic moments with real suspense as she brings together the puzzle pieces of a story more complicated than it seems.       Mr. Clooney completely disappears into his role and is generous sharing his screen time with Mr. O'Connell. Except for two short moments, Mr. Clooney and Ms. Roberts have no scenes together. Her character Patty spends most of her time talking into Lee's earpiece, keeping him focused while investigating Kyle's motivation for his desperate action. Mr O'Connell's Kyle is all blue collar and jitters as he stalks the TV studio with his finger on the detonator, demanding answers.       Co-starring is Giancarlo Esposito as the police captain in the street trying to avoid a violent end, Dominic West as the oily CEO of the company that lost all of Kyle's savings, and Caitriona Balfe as Mr. West's Communications Director. Also co-starring  is Christopher Denham as a sorely put upon producer and Lenny Venito as a gutsy cameraman, both providing welcome comedy relief.        This fast paced thriller with a cautionary message is a safe investment of your time at the movies.
Categories: Blogs

Captain America: Civil War

Sun, 05/08/2016 - 18:26
         The Marvel Studios juggernaut rolls on.  This latest installment in the Marvel film universe does not disappoint. Filled with terrific action sequences but anchored by an strong and emotional script, the film works on every level.        While Captain America may be in the title, make no mistake, this is a full blown Avengers outing with the team choosing sides after the U.S. Government decides Superheroes should be regulated and not given free reign to act on their own. The concept is taken from a terrific event story line in the comics that was so successful, Marvel is launching a "Civil War II" this summer in the books.       What works so well is the balance of screen time for the characters. While Captain America, The Winter Soldier, The Falcon and Iron Man have the majority of screen time, all the characters have excellent moments of their own including an "amazing" cameo or two. And the additional balance of emotion and gravitas to the action all make for a very well rounded film.       You can argue illogical plot points but it's a superhero movie after all and you have already checked your logic at the door. This is pure escapism and fun so I can't argue a few origin changes to suit the story or illogical actions by the characters. Fans should be attending with full knowledge of the characters and backstories. If you are coming in as a novice, it's best to brush up on earlier films or the comic archives.       Kudos to everyone at Marvel studios for getting their movies right. There is a grand plan in motion and so far, there hasn't been a misstep unlike a certain other brand. As they used to say in the old days, "Make Mine Marvel".
Categories: Blogs

Elvis & Nixon

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 18:18
 It's not an easy task to create an entire film around a famous photograph but that's what director Liza Johnson and writers Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes manage to do successfully in this lighthearted romp down memory lane. The story is true but entirely surreal.     The year is 1970 and Elvis Presley decides he wants to meet with President Richard Nixon to convince the President he should become a "special agent at large" to fight the war on drugs. The film is not a traditional comedy per se but the events and story itself are so comedic, you can't help but laugh throughout the film.       Kevin Spacey is absolutely spot on as Nixon and Michael Shannon does an excellent job channeling the essence of Elvis, even if he really looks nothing like him. The supporting cast of Nixon's aides are Colin Hanks as Egil Krogh, Evan Peters as Dwight Chapin, and Tate Donovan as H.R. Halderman. Tracy Letts is John Finlator, the head of the Bureau of Narcotics in a very funny scene when Elvis pays a visit. Best friends, Jerry Shilling ( Alex Pettfer) and Sonny West ( Johnny Knoxville) accompany Elvis to Washington and help facilitate the historic meeting.       The film is a time capsule of a specific event and era that is captured perfectly. It's fun and very entertaining.
Categories: Blogs

Sing Street

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 21:05
      Writer/director John Carney ("Once" and "Begin Again") scores another hit with this joyous coming of age story set in Ireland in 1985.  The comedy/drama is filled with great music from the period as well as terrific original songs that play a major part in the story.       15 Year old Connor (Ferdia  Walsh-Peelo), to impress Raphina ( Lucy Boynton), decides to start a band from scratch so she can be in their videos. Connor's older brother, Brendan ( Jack Reynor) teaches him about music and he recruits a bunch of misfits from his school to form "Sing Street". There are predictable ups and downs and some moments of melodrama but the overall mood of the film is very uplifting.         Mr. Walsh-Peelo is charming as Connor and his singing improves as the film goes on. The rest of his band all have their quirky attributes and are fun to watch as their confidence grows with each new song. Ms Boynton is a young actress to watch and there is true chemistry between her and Mr. Walsh-Peelo.         Mr. Carney knows his formula well and stays true to his vision. The original songs are terrific and he enlists some well known talent to help out on the soundtrack, including Adam Levine and Glenn Hansard. If you are looking for a feel good film, take a walk on "Sing Street."
Categories: Blogs