THE MIRACLE SEASON – Rated PG – 1 hr. 39 mins

 

THe Miracle Season

THE MIRACLE SEASON – Rated PG – 1 hr. 39 mins 

Director:  Sean McNamara 

Writers:  David Aaron Cohen, Elissa Matsueda 

Starring:  Helen Hunt, William Hurt, Danika Yarosh, Tiera Skovbye, and Erin Moriarty

Based on the true story of Iowa City West’s State Champion volleyball team ~ we meet Caroline Found (Danika Yarosh), “Line” as she is so fondly nicknamed, the vivacious Captain of the Iowa City Volleyball team, always putting needs in this life ahead of her own, including taking time to push her best-friend-for-life Kelly (Erin Moriarty) to be the best that she can be

With Senior year upon them, powerhouse Iowa City has their sights set on being the returning champs at State this year, when tragedy strikes, and all of their hopes and dreams may have just slipped away, as their Leader and Captain has tragically been taken from them.

As the team, and Coach Kathy Bresnahan (Helen Hunt) struggle to come to terms with the loss of Line, it is going to take the incredible strength of Line’s BFF Kelly, and the support of her grieving father Ernie (William Hurt) to get these girls back on track ~ if for no other reason ~ than to make Line proud as they try to move on in her absence…

I give THE MIRACLE SEASON a rating of:  WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON NETFLIX OR STREAMING.  Being myself a parent of 2 women’s Volleyball players at both High School and select program levels, I was totally pumped to catch this film. And having the opportunity to see two academy award winners (Hurt as Best Actor in 1985 for KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, and Hunt as Best Actress in 1998’s AS GOOD AS IT GETS) in starring roles as well, made it even more enticing to view.  But, sadly, even those two facts couldn’t bring me to give this film a “MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN” review, as it just didn’t have the depth and intenseness I was hoping for at any turn.  In actuality, this film feels more like a made-for-TV-movie, than a feature film.  Hunt is adequate in her role as Coach Bresnahan, and Moriarty is okay too, playing Line’s best friend, bringing some dimension to the role when she is forced to step into being Captain for their team.  The best performance for me, by far in this film, is that of Hurt’s, as he plays the grieving father, who also had to muster up the strength to support his team, as the school’s Principal.  And in the film defense too, having just experienced the excitement and thrill of my youngest daughter, and her team the ALTHOFF CATHOLIC CRUSADERS winning their own state championship this past Fall, may have lent to the anticlimactic feel this film had for me throughout. But, I also don’t think that was the only pitfall that made me feel the way I do about this movie.  Basically, If you love volleyball, then by all means, don’t let me stop you from viewing this touching and poetically played out true story.  But, if you are wanting to be blown away in any way by what you are about to view at a theater near you this weekend, then you might want to catch a scary movie (A QUIET PLACE) or a Funny film (BLOCKERS) this weekend, and wait to catch THE MIRACLE SEASON when it hits on Netflix or other streaming services…

Kathy Kaiser

BATTLE OF THE SEXES – Rated PG-13 – 2hr. 1 min

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES – Rated PG-13 – 2hr. 1 min 

Starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell

Dynamic creative and directing duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, RUBY SPARKS (movies) SMASHING PUMPKINS, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (movie videos) take on the Tennis battle of the ages and bring it to the big screen – THIS IS BATTLE OF THE SEXES!

Ranked the #1 seed in Woman’s tennis in 1973 – Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) is making her waves felt in the tennis world, both on and off the court. With her hubby Larry King (Austin Stowell) as her biggest supporter, Billie Jean takes on the establishment, and Tennis Association Chairman Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), pushing for equal pay between the sexes.

Enter the absolute showman and MSP (Male Chauvinist Pig) of the world, former Wimbledon and US National Champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), who challenges Billy Jean to play him in a “Battle of the Sexes” match, proving once and for all, Men are superior athletes.

Declining his suggestion at first, King soon finds herself lost in a midst of mayhem when fellow women’s tennis professional Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) accepts Bobby’s challenge, and looses to him.

Now with the pressure of the world, and women’s tennis on her shoulders…King agrees to accept Riggs crazy notion of MAN vs. WOMAN on the tennis court, in public opinion, and on the televised world-stage too…as she proves that sex has nothing to do with what makes a CHAMPION in the world tennis…once and for all…

I rate BATTLE OF THE SEXES a MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN: Having viewed this actual “Battle” many years ago and the ripe old age of 9, I was anxious to see if Stone and Carell could take on these bigger than life characters, and take them on, they did!! Stone is exceptional as the tennis player and feminist, Billy Jean King, as I think another nod during awards season is a few months is coming her way for her performance. And who could play the chauvinistic, arrogant showman Riggs any better than Carell? No one…as his performance is top notch too! I was even blown away by the storyline of this film, which delves into the personal lives of King and Carell as well, bringing to light the struggles they both faced not only professionally, but personally as well. The most amazing part for me experiencing this film in 2017, was the fact that even though woman have made significant strides in the world of sports, and business, in achieving equal pay since 1973, for many of us, this struggle still remains – equal pay for our position, regardless of our sex…some 44 years later, which is truly sad when you think about it…but, even with that notion shared, I think that whether or not you love tennis, love the thrill of competition, or are just a fan of Stone and Carell’s previous work…you have to catch BATTLE OF THE SEXES on THE BIG SCREEN at a theater near you this weekend… as the thrill and struggle is as real as it was – back in the day

Kathy Kaiser

STEP – Rated PG – 1 hr. 23 mins.

STEP

STEP – Rated PG – 1 hr. 23 mins. 

“STEP is the art form that can reach EVERY SINGLE PERSON…”

Set amongst the backdrop of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, Director Amanda Lipitz invites you into the lives of the “Lethal Ladies” of BLS, the all-girl Step group that has been in place since the schools inception. Through their practice sessions, real-life situations, and path to completion, you will be moved by how these young women convey their strength, determination, and perseverance, as they manage to choreograph their lives, and futures into something truly special…

I give STEP a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD. As documentaries go, STEP is not only entertaining, but also powerful, as you venture into the lives of these young women – trying to solidify their place within the STEP community, and their futures beyond the comfort of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. You will be amazed one minute, and heart broken the next, as you watch this film play out, revealing the importance that STEP has for each of them, and how their lives are truly affected by their coach, their families and most definitely by their school guidance counselor, as these individuals want what is best for every young woman in attendance as BLS, pushing and helping them strive to SUCEED, no matter what the cost…

Kathy Kaiser

Check out the new TEASER TRAILER for CHUCK From IFC Films – in select cities May 5th.

From IFC Films comes CHUCK, in select cities May 5th.

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Synopsis: He was the pride of Bayonne, New Jersey, a man who went fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali, and the real life inspiration for Rocky Balboa. But before all that, Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was a liquor salesman and father with a modest prizefighting career whose life changed overnight when, in 1975, he was chosen to take on The Greatest in a highly publicized title match. It’s the beginning of a wild ride through the exhilarating highs and humbling lows of sudden fame—but what happens when your fifteen minutes in the spotlight are up? Driven by a committed performance from Liev Schreiber, Chuck is a refreshingly human tale of resilience and redemption. Elisabeth Moss and Naomi Watts costar.

#ChuckMovie

 

BLEED FOR THIS – Rated R

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BLEED FOR THIS – Rated R – 1hr 56 min

Starring Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart and Katey Sagal

Vinny Pazienza, played by Miles Teller, is a boxer at the top of his prime. He has everything he would ever want until disaster strikes,  when he is involved in a serious accident that brings his boxing career to a screeching halt.  When Vinny is told he’ll never box again, that’s not good enough for him.  Vinny’s perseverance and true drive, for the love of his sport, is put to the test.

I give this film a MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN. Being a Miles Teller and sports fan, I had high hopes for this film. Miles and the cast made this film live up to all my expectations. With great cinematography and a good crew, you are brought along on this story of true perseverance. If you are a fan of sports or true stories this is definitely a movie for you.

Jordan Haar

QUEEN OF KATWE – Rated PG

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QUEEN OF KATWE – Rated PG – 124 Minutes

Starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, and Madina Nalwanga

Brought to the big screen by who else, but the Wonderful World of DISNEY, we meet a girl from Uganda, who, once she is introduced to the game of chess, finds that a greatness lies within her to become all that she can be – this is QUEEN OF KATWE!

Struggling through life, right along with her siblings and mother Nakku (Lupita Nyong’o), Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) finds herself in the midst of many of the children from her village learning to play the game of chess, but she’s not sure if this place, or game, is for her.

When instructor and super nice guy Robert (David Oyelowo) convinces Phiona to join them for a little porridge, and a game or two, Phiona realizes that this place might just be a sanctuary from the hardships of the outside world, as it beckons her to join in, even if its only for a little while…

When she starts kicking the tooshie of everyone at the center, Robert realizes Phiona’s potential and encourages her to keep playing this game that she now come to LOVE. When an opportunity arises for Phiona to travel to the Chess championships, Robert is determined to find a way to get Phiona clear across Africa, so that she can finally have the opportunity to show off her stuff…

As the pressure mounts, Phiona’s dreams of being the one true Master of Chess for Uganda, goes by the wayside. But, with perseverance and determination – both Phiona and Robert decide that the destiny that is calling her, may just be only one more tournament away…

I give QUEEN OF KATWE a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH IT ON DVD ~ I have loved Oyelowo’s and Nyong’o’s previous works, so I was excited to see what they would bring to the big screen within this biography, and gladly, they did not disappoint. Young Nalwanga’s portrayal of Phiona was convincing too, as the youngster torn between family life, and her desires to be more than what surrounds her. This storyline is touching, and very real all the way through, but at times it seems to move ever super slow…giving you time to grab a much needed drink, without missing a beat in the story playing out on screen. If you love DISNEY films, and want to catch a heart-warming jaunt into the life of this incredible young lady, then by all means go catch this one, with the family in tow, at a theater near you this weekend. But, if chess isn’t your deal, or if you need a lot of excitement happening to keep you awake watching this one on the big screen, then you may want to wait to catch QUEEN OF KATWE on DVD, in the comfort of your own home…

Kathy Kaiser

Matinee Chat Podcast Vol #31 – Reviews of TOUCHED WITH FIRE and RACE

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And ENTER TO WIN FREE PASSES TO THE LINCOLN and EDGE 5 THEATERS by answering the NAME THAT MOVIE TUNE and SAY WHAT TRIVIA GAMES throughout the podcast.

Just leave your answers in the reply section below!!!

 

 

 

RACE – Rated PG-13

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Producer and Director Stephen Hopkins takes us back to a time in our worlds history where religious beliefs and the color of your skin meant the difference between acceptance, persecution, or even annihilation from the face of this earth ~ and how one man ~ through his God given talents, and perseverance, attempted to change it all… THIS IS RACE!!!

Trying to make his way as a track and field star at OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY in the 1930’s, James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (Stephan James) is wanting to turn his God given abilities into a better life for himself, his girlfriend/wife Ruth (Shanice Banton) and their beautiful little girl Gloria (Yvanna-Rose Leblanc).

When Owen’s arrival on campus is brought to the attention of Coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), he decides to check out this boy’s talent, and fast…

Seeing what Jesse is truly capable of, Coach Snyder suggests that they put a plan to get Owens ready for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Bound and determined to show THE WORLD his talents, Owens must face the harsh reality of defiance from “his brothers” here at home, if he goes through with representing “his people” on this world stage, and he must realize too, that Hitler and his regime aren’t going to be welcoming him with open arms when he arrives in Germany either…

I give RACE a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH IT ON DVD ~ James does a superb job of portraying the life and legacy of track and field star Jesse Owens. And Sudeikis is enjoyable to watch too, portraying real-life track star turned Coach, Larry Snyder. So why not rate RACE a straight out MUST SEE? Even though this historical portrayal was entertaining to view, I found that their attempt to make it more relevant for today’s viewer ~ like using slang terms and mannerisms that we use today ~ took away from the ambiance of this film. I also felt that many significant realities of the time were quite frankly too “sugar coated” for my liking~ from the race relations at OHIO STATE in the 30’s, to the rather smooth decision to enter the games by the Olympic committee, to the stoic glimpse of Hitler himself, I felt that from a historical perspective, they could have portrayed a much more impactful and significant story on screen.   I also felt that even though I was so happy to see Jeremy Irons and William Hurt back on the big screen, I felt their roles were way too insignificant for the caliber of acting that they brought to the table. But, even with the few flaws that were glaringly staring me in the face throughout this film, I would suggest that you catch RACE at a theater near you this weekend, or most definitely catch it when it comes out on DVD, so that your and your children can experience the significance of what Jesse Owens did, not only for his race ~ but for the HUMAN RACE ~ sanctifying his place in our countries history books – as an Olympian, an African American hero, and as a man who defied the oppression of the world of his time…with his head held high!!

Kathy Kaiser

CONCUSSION~ Rated PG-13

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Writer and Director Peter Landesman brings to the big screen the REAL-LIFE story of Pathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, as he discovers the severity of head trauma that begins to take down MANY A WARRIOR in the NFL ~ and his fight to disclose his findings…THIS IS CONCUSSION!

Making his life as a pathologist in Pittsburgh, Nigerian born Dr. Bennett Omalu (Will Smith) searches for answers as he conducts the most human autopsies possible, on those poor unfortunate souls that end up on his slab daily…

When “IRON MIKE” Webster ~ Legendary Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers dies at the young age of 50, he sadly too, has ended up in the morgue, awaiting Dr. Omalu’s gentle hands…

Ruled initially a heart attack, but diagnosed not the case by the good doctor, Dr. Omalu findings lead to Webster becoming the first case of diagnosed CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) ~ repetitive head trauma leading to amnesia, dementia and depression…

As a few other great STEELERS arrive at the morgue due to suicide, Dr. Omalu finds that they too have the same type of brain injury as Webster. Faced with no other choice but to reach out to former team physician Dr. Julian Bales (Alec Baldwin), Omalu convinces him of his published findings regarding CTE, as he seeks Bales assistance in informing the NFL that “THEIR GAME” is what seems to be taking these athletes way before their time

When the NFL tries desperately to keep Dr. Omalu, and his scientific findings under wraps, it seems that not even SCIENCE can take on the MIGHTY CORPORATE NFL, or their new commissioner Roger Goodell (Luke Wilson)…

I give CONCUSSION a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN ~ With it’s real-life storyline, and the superb acting of THE FRESH PRINCE HIMSELF ~ CONCUSSION is a definite MUST SEE for anyone over the age of 13! Smith has truly gone ABOVE AND BEYOND playing Dr. Bennett Omalu ~ as this is a side of Smith that he haven’t seen from him before ~ as you get lost in his eloquent Nigerian accent, his scientific research, and how he struggles to let the world know what he has found! Baldwin’s performance is better than average too, as this film brings to light the crushing results caused by CTE, and how hard the NFL fought to keep these findings from the public eye… And Kudos to Smith too on his GOLDEN GLOBE Nomination for this performance, as he is definitely worthy of this nod, as this is his best work since we got to see his emotional side in THE PURSUIT of HAPPYNESS!!!

Kathy Kaiser

Check out the trailer for the Jesse Owens Biopic – RACE – runs its way into theaters 2/19

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RACE

In Theaters Nationwide February 19, 2016

Based on the incredible true story of Jesse Owens, the legendary athletic superstar whose quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy. “Race” is an enthralling film about courage, determination, tolerance, and friendship, and an inspiring drama about one man’s fight to become an Olympic legend.

 Cast: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Carice van Houten, Shanice Banton, and William Hurt

Directed by: Stephen Hopkins (“The Ghost and the Darkness,” “24”)

Written by: Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse

#RaceMovie

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MY ALL AMERICAN – Rated PG

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“I’ve never seen anyone your size do as much damage as you do out there…”

From the Writer who has brought us such classic sports films as HOOSIERS (86), RUDY (93), and THE GAME OF THEIR LIVES (05) ~ Angelo Pizzo ~ comes the real-life drama of gridiron sensation Freddie Steinmark – based on the Jim Dent book “Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story” with Pizzo writing the screenplay, and sitting in the Directors chair this time too…so, are you ready for some FOOTBALL ~ This is MY ALL AMERICAN!

Bound and determined to leave his mark on the Football field in High School, Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) works his “you know what off” everyday, trying to make his dreams of playing in college come to life, while carrying the dreams his father Fred (Michael Reilly Burke) wants him to achieve too…

When the beautiful and incredibly smart Linda Wheeler (Sarah Bolger) takes a liking to Freddie ~ maybe he can take a few minutes away from his training ~ as a guy has to have some down time too you know…

Hoping and praying that all of his hard work will one day pay off ~ even though he is significantly smaller than all the other guys on the field, Freddie gets notice that his Coach has sent tapes of his playing abilities to none other than the Head Coach of the University of Texas ~ Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart). Now, all Freddie can do is pray that Royal sees something in him ~ anything ~ that will make him take notice and want him to be on his squad…

As it seems the stars are alineing for Freddie, as Royal has made “the call” – Linda has some great news too, as she too will be joining Freddie as a LONGHORN!

Making his way on the field, and showing to everyone that SIZE MEANS NOTHING, Freddie is on fire ~ helping the Longhorns achieve a winning season as they head into post season play…

Freddie has apparently acquired a knew injury along the way that just won’t heal ~ and of course stopping for a few games is totally out of the question – as he is finally living out his DREAM, it seems that Coach Royal may have to take matters into his own hands, to get Freddie checked out once and for all…as the pain is so excruciating he can barely take it one second longer…

I give MY ALL AMERICAN a rating of: THIS IS A MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN ~ it is CLASSIC CINEMA at it’s FINEST!!! This film puts the ALL in ALL-AMERICAN!! Of course, I spent many a Sunday watching game, after game, after game of Football with my Dad growing up, so I am partial to the gridiron and all that it involves…and MY ALL AMERICAN does not disappoint! Wittrock is fantastic as Steinmark in every way – from his grueling workouts, to his final days – his performance is absolutely memorable and heart-breaking…and Eckhart’s performance is remarkable to watch too, playing the Coach that sees all of Freddie’s potential ~ allowing him to make the most of his life on the field ~ but stepping in when needed, as any GREAT COACH WOULD. You will laugh, you will cheer, and you will definitely shed a tear or two along the way, as this true story is masterfully written and crafted to touch your every emotion, with true intensity. Even the gentlemen sitting next to me at the advanced screening had a few tears runny down their cheeks, so be prepared boys ~ and don’t say I didn’t warn you ~ because MY ALL AMERICAN might just get the best of you too…

Kathy Kaiser

McFarland USA – Rated PG

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Based on the true story of the 1987 Cross~ County Team of McFarland High School in California~ DISNEY brings to the BIG SCREEN the AMERICAN DREAM ~ that if you work hard with determination and fortitude, regardless of your background, your heritage or your impoverished neighborhood, your strong will and incredible work ethic will lead you to achieve GREAT THINGS….welcome to MCFARLAND, USA.

Forced to move to a new High School with his family in tow, Teacher and Football Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) isn’t quite sure how he, or his family, are going to adjust to living in a mostly Latino community.

When White also finds out the head Football coach position isn’t open either, he becomes even more frustrated and discontented with his new move. Knowing that he and his family need to make this work, White soon realizes that many of his students come to school after working in the fields for hours, and then return to the fields after school too, as he comes to the realization that the life he and his family enjoy is very different from the lives of many of his students. Another realization for White is that many of the young men in his school can RUN FOREVER, as they run everywhere they go. Seeing that these kids have true potential in becoming cross country runners, White sets out to form the first cross country team at McFarland High School.

Easier said than done, Coach White struggles to convince not only the principal and runners, but their parents too, that being a part of this TEAM, and seeing what they can achieve together, is as important as anything they are learning in class, or in the fields.

While White is working tirelessly coaching this team of incredible runners, his wife Cheryl (Maria Bello) and his two daughters struggle to find a way to fit-in in this new town they now call HOME…

Will Coach White be able to turn these boys not only into runners ~ but State contending runners? Will the community and the boys families find value in what they are trying to accomplish? And will Coach White and his family come to realize that there is not better place to call HOME ~ than where they are right now???

I give McFarland USA a B+: It was incredible watching this real-life story unfold on the screen, as these 7 young men learned to face all that life had to throw at them, while realizing too, that with hard work and determination, their isn’t anything you can’t do! I love nothing more than real life stories, and it seems that last years surge of real-life dramas coming from every movie studio, is continuing right into 2015. Director Niki Caro does a superb job of bringing to light the hardships and real-life angst that these families face each and every day, but also manages to do it in the charming DISNEY WAY, not spending too much time on the negatives, and way more time on the positives unfolding on before you on screen. The young Latino actors that rounded out the cast ~ Ramiro Rodriquez, Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Hector Duran, and Sergio Avelar were also exceptional ~ leaving me to believe that there will be many a leading actor in our future from this group of young professionals. So, head out to a theater near you this weekend with your entire family in tow, because I promise, you will all love McFarland, just as much as I do!

Kathy Kaiser