Saturday, April 25, 2015


Once it's time to put away all those heavy coats, gloves and sweaters, you know that summer is just around the corner. This movie season is certainly filled with plenty of the usual caped crime-stoppers, sequels and remakes but having learned lessons from the previous years, there are also other interesting options offered. You will see more female-driven comedies (Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergara in "Hot Pursuit" and Melissa McCarthy in "Spy" to name just two) and challenging indies (Michael Fassbender in the western, "Slow West", Jack Black and James Marsden getting very close in the wild bromance, "The D Train") to deliver some warm-weather cinematic alternatives.

Here is my small list of some of the upcoming summer flicks that I'm really looking forward to seeing.

All dates are subject to change:


Release date: May 1, 2015

The mother of all super-hero movies, "The Avengers" smashed box-office records by globally raking in over a billion dollars back in 2012. The inevitable sequel is here and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" has our band of heroes trying to once again save the world from complete destruction. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) creates an artificial intelligence device that is self-aware called Ultron (James Spader). It's purpose was for maintaining peace on the planet, however Ultron decides that Earth would be safer without humans. The Avengers (that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner returning in their respective roles) not only have to stop this machine but also have to deal with Ultron's allies, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and the Vision (Paul Bettany).


Release date: May 1, 2015

The very gifted Kristen Wiig is given the opportunity to combine her comedic skills and dramatic abilities in the quirky comedy "Welcome To Me". It tells the story of a woman (Wiig) with borderline personality disorder who is off her meds. After winning millions in the lottery, she decides she wants to become famous like Oprah and starts her own talk show. The actress surrounds herself with an impressive cast that includes James Marsden, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joan Cusack and Tim Robbins.


Release date: May 15, 2015

I will be the first to admit I'm truly suffering from remake/reboot fatigue. Now having said that, there are a few coming out this summer that have me slightly intrigued. One of them is "Mad Max: Fury Road". Thirty years after the first film, director and co-writer George Miller takes us back to the post-apocalyptic world of Max. Instead of Mel Gibson (thank goodness), we now have Tom Hardy in the role. This time, Max is being imprisoned by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). He will earn his freedom by the hardened, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in exchange for helping her escape across the desert with five women held captive by Joe.


Release date: June 12. 2015

After delivering a mesmerizing performance in 2011's "Jane Eyre", Aussie actress, Mia Wasikowska is tackling another literary classic. This time it's "Madame Bovary", the French novel about a young woman who marries a kind but uninteresting doctor (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). Bored and unhappy, she begins searching for fulfillment through extramarital affairs. Ezra Miller, Rhys Ifans and Paul Giamatti also star.


Release date: June 12, 2015

"Jurassic World", the third sequel to "Jurassic Park", is set over twenty years later with a finally realized theme-park with live dinosaurs roaming the island. What could possibly go wrong? Bryce Dallas Howard is the profit-seeking operations manager and Chris Pratt (who brightened last summer with "Guardians of The Galaxy") is a lead member of the staff that studies these creatures. No surprise that these two don't see eye to eye.


Release date: June 24, 2015


Release date: July TBA

These two documentaries focuses on two of the most extraordinary voices in pop music. In "What Happened, Miss Simone?", director Liz Garbus uses interviews and extensive concert footage to explore the life of "The High Priestess of Soul", Nina Simone. Eccentric, demanding and complicated (although this is at least partially due to her being later diagnosed as bipolar), Simone was a masterful musician and unique vocalist who struggled to control her demons.

Another great talent that struggled to fight her demons throughout her short life is British pop singer, Amy Winehouse. Award-winning director, Asif Kapadia shaped "Amy" around having the late artist reveal herself in her own words though previously unseen interviews and performances. "Amy" has just been selected to be screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival.


Release date: July 17, 2015

The busy Judd Apatow ("The 40 Year-Old Virgin", "Bridesmaids", HBO's "Girls") is back with his fifth film as a director and "Trainwreck" looks very promising. He has tapped hot comedian, Amy Schumer to star and write the script for this comedy loosely based on experiences in her own life. She plays a men's magazine writer who is seriously commitmentphobic until she meets a charming sports doctor (Bill Hader) that makes her reconsider her strong aversion to romance. The eclectic cast ranges from comedians (SNL's Vanessa Bayer, Collin Quinn), Oscar winners (the fabulous Tilda Swinton, Marisa Tomei), a pro wrestler (John Cena), rapper (Method Man) and basketball player (LeBron James).


Release date: July 24, 2015

"Southpaw" is a gritty drama that stars an almost unrecognizable Jake Gyllenhaal as a hulking boxing champ with a beautiful wife (Rachel McAdams) and child. After his wife is tragically murdered, the boxer's career unravels with his erratic behaviour causes him to lose his daughter to child protection services. The only solution is for him to get back in the ring with the help of a new trainer (Forest Whitaker). Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day", "The Equalizer") directs.


Release date : August 7, 2015

It wouldn't feel like summer without Meryl Streep and she's here in "Ricki and The Flash". Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of The Lambs") directs this dramedy (written by fellow Oscar-winner, Diablo Cody) about a wife and mother (Streep) who abandons her family to pursue her dream of a rock & roll career. Now, years later, she wants to reconnect with her adult children (Sebastian Stan and Streep's real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer) during their time of crisis but that will not be easy. Kevin Kline, six-time Tony winner, Audra McDonald and '80's rocker, Rick Springfield also star.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


The COLCOA Film Festival, which delivers the finest of French cinema to American audiences, will run it's nineteenth event in Los Angeles April 20th to April 28th. Not only have they expanded this by an additional day but for the first time COLCOA will be presenting the best of films produced for French television. There will be a record sixty-eight films screened along with twenty shorts and documentaries.

The festival kicks off with the North American premiere of "Un homme idéal" (A Perfect Man). Written and directed by Yann Gozian, this psychological thriller involves a man (Pierre Niney) who claims a dead man's diary as his own and turns it in to a successful novel. While enjoying his new life of women and fame, he struggles to keep the truth from being revealed as pressure mounts for his next book. Niney is a rising star in France due to his recent Best Actor César for "Saint Laurent".

Michel Hazanavicius, the Oscar-winning director of "The Artist" will be this year's Focus on a Filmmaker and will screen his latest film, "The Search" and his 2002 comedy, "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies".

The fest will also present the restoration of Jean Renoir's 1931 "La Chienne" and screen François Truffaut's 1980 "Le Dernier Métro" (The Last Metro) which stars Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu.

For the complete list of films, purchase tickets and additional information, please click below:

2015 COLCOA Film Festival

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Directed by Denny Tedesco

Where & When: Sundance Sunset Theaters, West Hollywood, CA. March 24, 2015 2:30PM

The documentary, "The Wrecking Crew" made a splashy premiere at the SXSW Film Festival way back in 2008. The film, named after the little-known collective of session musicians who played on just about every song you might have heard recorded throughout the 1960's and early 1970's, took home several prizes during it's run on the festival circuit that year. A successful theatrical run seemed inevitable but the doc's momentum came to an unexpected grinding halt. Due to all of the numerous songs played in the film, the rights needed to obtained which also meant that more money needed to be paid. That was not a speedy process for director Denny Tedesco but after a spirited  Kickstarter campaign raised the funds, the remarkable "The Wrecking Crew" is finally able to be shown to the world.

This project began as a way for Mr. Tedesco to honor the legacy of his father, Tommy who was part of this band of brothers (and sister) that shaped the sound of contemporary pop music with little fanfare and virtually no credit. With the elder Tedesco fighting cancer, the director knew he had a limited time to record his father and got together many of the other musicians to recall their stories on how these songs were created.

It really shouldn't be a great surprise that the main focus here is on Tommy Tedesco but he was a colorful, fascinating character and brilliant guitarist who was able to play a large number of different stringed instruments. In addition to the interviews, we see footage of Tedesco telling stories and teaching at a master class as well as home movies of him at work and play. He started off playing jazz, however Tedesco soon found himself making his living playing rock and roll. Not particularly a fan of the music (which was true for most of these artists) but he learned to eventually appreciate the genre.

There's a slight dispute over how the name "Wrecking Crew" came about, with members of the band having varied recollections on who actually came up with it. Some of the other players on board to share their stories are drummer, Hal Blaine (who memorably kicked off The Ronettes' 1963 hit, "Be My Baby") sax man, Plas Johnson (who played that seminal solo on "The Pink Panther" theme) and on bass, Carol Kaye. Being the lone female among the boys was never an issue because she was considered a true musician, so Kaye (who was responsible for that bass line on Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On") was treated as an equal. A couple members of the crew, Glen Campbell and Leon Russell would go on to forge successful solo music careers and guess who they called to play on their records?

Many of the pop artists who benefited from the amazing talents of these musicians appear on screen to sing their praises. That includes Herb Alpert, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork of The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra and the one and only, Cher with producers Lou Adler, "Bones" Howe and prolific writer Jimmy Webb joining the chrous. By the mid '70's, many bands wanted to have more control over their sound and began actually playing on their recordings. This effectively put the Wrecking Crew pretty much out of business and brought an end to an era.

While not nearly as vibrant as "Twenty Feet From Stardom", the Oscar-winning doc on the background vocalists working during this same period, "The Wrecking Crew" is still quite illuminating. According to the film, these top-notch musicians seemed to be buried even further in the background than those singers as the producers and record labels didn't want the world to know that their favorite artists were not playing the music on their hit songs. But these professionals didn't worry much about credit because they were too busy making a great living doing what they love.

Tommy Tedesco didn't live to see the completed documentary (he passed away in 1997) but I can safely assume he would be very moved and proud of not only what an electrifying work his son has accomplished but also how "The Wrecking Crew" finally gives this hard-working band their long overdue recognition.