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Upper East Side Theater

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Insightful Perspectives on Upper East Side Movies
Updated: 13 min 16 sec ago

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

Demolition

Sun, 04/10/2016 - 13:19
      Even a fine acting turn by Jake Gyllenhaal cant save this metaphorical mess of a film. Mr. Gyllenhaal plays Davis, living comfortably numb as an investment banker working for his father-in-law, played by Chris Cooper. When his wife dies in a car accident (no spoiler, it happens minutes into the film and is the catalyst for the plot), Davis is forced to face his cold existence, find his emotional center and learn to live again. This is serious stuff.        Davis begins to take everyday things apart. He starts small but eventually, rather than just take them apart, he actively begins to demolish things in his life. Only by breaking everything down, does he think he can start to put things back together...we get it...literally and often.         Finding an unusual outlet for his buried feelings, Davis expresses his thoughts in letters to  a vending machine company when his candy gets stuck in a machine at the hospital. Naomi Watts plays Karen, the customer service rep at the company that is moved enough by his letters that she reaches out to him. Karen is, of course, living her own numb existence with a brutish boyfriend and her troubled 15 year old son, Chris.        Karen, Davis and Chris begin an odd friendship. There are some interesting twists, especially in the third act but they can't disguise the plot holes or the irrational path the film takes to reach it's conclusion. Plot threads dangle and some strain credibility. The film tries so hard to express itself, it collapses under it's own weight just like it's protagonist.
Categories: Blogs