Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. TOP FIVE digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today-holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, TOP FIVE is an original and radically new kind of American movie. Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, TOP FIVE tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he’s left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah. The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove.
Every mean snowstorm has its silver lining. Not only did we get spared yesterday from 30+” of snow, Downton Abbey‘s fifth season was released on DVD and Blu-ray. Yes, you can binge watch the entire season before it airs on PBS. That’s a full 3 1/2 weeks before the final episode airs on February 22, 2015 and more than a month before the extra holiday episode airs on PBS March 1, 2015. So Downtonians take note – your favorite public library has you covered for all your British Costume Drama binge watching. Just be careful what you say around Violet. She might stab you with her retort!
Ira Sachs’ love story stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as long-term partners who finally get married in New York City after the state recognizes marriage equality. Love is Strange won rave reviews boasting a 94% average critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes,
After nearly four decades together, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when George loses his job soon after, the couple must sell their apartment and – victims of the relentless New York City real estate market – temporarily live apart until they can find an affordable new home. While George moves in with two cops (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) who live down stairs, Ben lands in Brooklyn with his nephew (Darren Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei), and their temperamental teenage son (Charlie Tahan), with whom Ben shares a bedroom. While struggling with the pain of separation, Ben and George are further challenged by the intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics of their new living arrangements.
What’s not to love about a new film from Hollywood legends Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer? Elsa & Fred follows the story of a recent widower moving into a new complex and meeting a woman who helps him savor life again. From Rotten Tomatoes,
Elsa & Fred is the story of two people who at the end of the road, discover that it’s never too late to love and make dreams come true. Elsa has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: the scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroianni but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa. From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live — be it more or less — is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa’s frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness. And this is how Fred learns how to live. When he learns about Elsa’s terminal illness, he decides to make her dream come true and takes Elsa to Rome to reenact with her the famous scene at the Fontana di Trevi.
What else could we possibly feature as a Throwback Thursday film the week before Christmas other than the warm and wonderful Barbara Stanwyck classic, Christmas in Connecticut. Stanwyck stars with Dennis Morgan in a tale of mistaken identity. Stanwyck’s character Elizabeth Lane is a Martha Stewart type journalist who poses as a married suburban woman when in fact she is single and lives in NYC. An invite for a war hero (Morgan’s handsome Jefferson Jones) from the publisher to her Connecticut home turns into madcap bedlam as Morgan falls for the “married” woman. Not to be missed is the supporting performance from S.Z. Sakall as the wacky Uncle Felix who is the real mastermind behind Elizabeth’s skills. As with most films from the 1940’s, this concludes with a very happy ending. Christmas in Connecticut is a must-see for anyone interested in warm-hearted classic holiday films and an absolute must-see for those of us living in the nutmeg state.
Looking for a new romantic comedy? Hard to believe Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is now old enough for this genre, but he is. Starring along with Zoe Kazan the pair have great on-screen chemistry in What If. From CBS Films,
WHAT IF is the story of medical school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), who’s been repeatedly burned by bad relationships. So while everyone around him, including his roommate Allan (Adam Driver) seems to be finding the perfect partner (Mackenzie Davis), Wallace decides to put his love life on hold. It is then that he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) an animator who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). Wallace and Chantry form an instant connection, striking up a close friendship. Still, there is no denying the chemistry between them, leading the pair to wonder, what if the love of your life is actually your best friend? The ensemble romantic comedy costars Megan Park and Oona Chaplin.
Fans of Mad Men will want to catch the new indie The One I Love starring Elizabeth Moss who plays Peggy on the popular series. From Rotten Tomatoes,
The highly anticipated debut feature from acclaimed author Charlie McDowell, THE ONE I LOVE is an original tale that continues to showcase McDowell’s keen observations of human relationships with a distinct and comedic voice. THE ONE I LOVE, written by Justin Lader, was produced by Mel Eslyn and executive produced by Mark Duplass who stars opposite Elisabeth Moss. On the brink of separation, Ethan (Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) escape to a beautiful vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to save their marriage. What begins as a romantic and fun retreat soon becomes surreal, when an unexpected discovery forces the two to examine themselves, their relationship, and their future.
A new film Begin Again from the director who brought us the music-infused movie that turned into the smash Broadway show Once. From Rotten Tomatoes,
The latest film from writer-director John Carnery (ONCE), BEGIN AGAIN is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.
Criterion remastered and reissued Federico Fellini’s classic 1960 film La dolce vita. From Criterion,
The biggest hit from the most popular Italian filmmaker of all time, La dolce vita rocketed Federico Fellini to international mainstream success—ironically, by offering a damning critique of the culture of stardom. A look at the darkness beneath the seductive lifestyles of Rome’s rich and glamorous, the film follows a notorious celebrity journalist (a sublimely cool Marcello Mastroianni) during a hectic week spent on the peripheries of the spotlight. This mordant picture was an incisive commentary on the deepening decadence of contemporary Europe, and it provided a prescient glimpse of just how gossip- and fame-obsessed our society would become.
With our star and fame obsessed American culture, it certainly will be fascinating to take a look back at how Fellini saw it over 50 years ago! And no one does pristine film restoration with attention to detail better than Criterion.
Ryan Murphy’s (Glee, American Horror Story) HBO mini-series The Normal Heart gets released on DVD today. The Normal Heart is based on a 1985 play by AIDS activist Larry Kramer. A bit of trivia – Kramer’s husband’s brother and sister in-law live here in Fairfield. The story revolves around the very earliest years of the AIDS crisis before there was even a language to discuss the disease. Starring Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks (the Kramer character), Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Julia Roberts – The Normal Heart acts as a history lesson for those too young to remember the horror of the 1980’s and early 90’s and a stark reminder to everyone else who lived through it. The film has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve got copies at both locations for you to check out.