Archive for the 'Now Playing' Category


Go See Kinetic Films at Consolidated Pearlridge This Week


Outside of HIFF, it feels like there are hardly any opportunities for local filmmakers to showcase some of the great work that they create at home here in Hawaii (or for local moviegoers to see locally made films). That is why local production company Kinetic Films and local theater chain Consolidated Theatres have partnered together to bring three local films to the big screen this coming week.

Paradise Broken, 6B, and Hang Loose are all homegrown productions from Kinetic Productions that tell local stories and showcase local talent both in front of and behind the camera. Here are the synopsis for each, along with our take and ratings for each film from previous Hawaii International Film Festival screenings.

Paradise Broken – 4/5 stars


Synopsis (via

This award winning gritty drama delves into the darker side of paradise and features cult legend Dante Basco and Hollywood actor Khalil Kain. As the sun sets and the sightseers retire for the evening, two drug addicts must work the back alleys of Waikiki to make their modest dreams come true. But after the couple has a big blow out, the regretful Ray searches for a pregnant Misha while she faces off against her abusive father and a kingpin pimp of Waikiki. Although Ray and Misha try to rise above the powers that bring them down, their split may have been the only chance they had to survive.

Our Thoughts from HIFF 2011:

It was the fact that these characters could be people I know. They were walking along sidewalks and streets I myself have walked on. How could this not be real? . . . I’ve always been of the mind that good movies will entertain you, but a great movie will engage and challenge what you think. I don’t want to sound naive, but Paradise Broken definitely made me think about the things we don’t see and that probably do happen so close to home–because of that, this is a film you definitely won’t want to miss.

6B – 3.5/5 stars


Synopsis (via

Experience four unique short films about Hawaii in this anthology revolving around the room, 6B. Each of the four stories examines a darker side of island life: a man struggling with drug addiction has a revelation about his identity; an ex-con must enter an underground poker game to reunite with his daughter; a young woman befriends her neighbor, a former hit man; and a Japanese American family of 3 generations deals with an impending tsunami. 6B features an all-Hawaii cast, crew, and production.

Our Thoughts:

The most diverse out of the three features, 6B will give you a little bit of everything as it is an anthology of four shot films directed by four local filmmakers: Nathan Kurosawa, Ryan Kawamoto, Roy Kimura, and Jay Hanamura. All are dramas, but each piece of the anthology has its own unique style and flair to local storytelling. Also, since 6B is four films in one, you’ll be hard-pressed to recognize you know whether it be a local actor/celebrity, family member, or even a friend.

Hang Loose – 3/5 stars


Synopsis (via

Hang Loose this Spring Break with this coming of age comedy featuring local fave Augie T, YouTube sensation KevJumba and 21 AND OVER’s Justin Chon. Kevin is an average, conservative Asian-American male. Fresh out of high school, he flies to Hawai’ to attend the wedding of his big sister. The day before the wedding, he meets his future brother in law (Dante Basco, HOOK, THE DEBUT) and they head out for a bachelor party with his frat boy groomsmen. A misunderstanding with a notorious drug dealer leads to one crazy night and a series of misadventures that will change Kevin’s life forever.

Our Thoughts from HIFF 2012:

Kevin Wu and Dante Basco were perfectly fine in their roles here, with Basco even stealing scenes a few times . . . I myself hung loose and just went with it and had a few laughs in the process.

Definitely the most accessible of the three presentations, go with Hang Loose if you’re looking for something lighter and fun before venturing into more serious fare with 6B and Paradise Broken.

The Where and When . . .

The Basco brothers, Ryan Kawamoto, and James Sereno at last night's premiere at Ward.

The Basco brothers, Ryan Kawamoto, and James Sereno at last night’s premiere at Ward.

All three films will be shown at Consolidated Threatres’ Pearlridge West 16 starting today for at least a one week engagement (longer if us locals go out and pack the house). Tickets can be purchased at the Consolidated Pearlridge West 16 box office or online at Tonight (March 15) from 5:00-8:45pm, Hang Loose stars Dante Basco and Justin Chon will be on hand for an autograph session at the theaters. If you want to hear more about the special showcase from the creators themselves, both James Sereno and Ryan Kawamoto of Kinetic were on KITV yesterday morning to talk about the films and the work that Kinetic does:

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Paradise Broken (No Rating, 1h 46m), 6B (No Rating, 1h 53m), and (No Rating, 1h 33m) are now playing at Consolidated Pearlridge West 16.


Review: The Master

That’s not a cheat sheet Joaquin Phoenix’s character is reading, although one would have been handy while watching The Master.

I really don’t know what to think or say about The Master. After hearing all the hype and accolades from critics I was definitely interested in checking it out. Don’t get me wrong, what critics like and what audiences like are two different things; but I was a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and did find his last film, 2007’s There Will Be Blood, entertaining. So I was definitely intrigued and interested when critics started waxing poetically about his latest feature The Master.

To set the table, The Master stars Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell, a bit of a troubled and eccentric sailor who comes back to the US at the end of World War II. Due to either post traumatic stress disorder from the war or his own proclivities, Freddie has a hard time holding down jobs and becomes antagonistic with the people he works with. On the run he happens to stowaway on a ship carrying Lancaster Dodd played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the charismatic leader of a pseudo-science religious group called The Cause. Nicknamed “Master” by his devotees, Dodd takes Freddie in and subjects him to The Cause as a way to help/heal him.

The film beautifully sets up Freddie’s frantic personality in the first thirty minutes of the film as he struggles to fit into social situations in each of his occupations. He starts off well enough in his role on his ship during the war, his first post naval job as a photographer, and as a field hand; but at each step of the way he demonstrates really weird and sometimes deviant behavior and then things always seem to change for the worse. Alcohol, or drinking of some sort, almost always seems to be involved as well so you can never quite tell what the root cause of his personality issues are.

I may not know Scientology, but I do know that Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd is very eloquent, and knows not to jump on couches to get people to follow him.

Meanwhile the film starts to turn when Freddie and Dodd cross paths. Dodd took Freddie in, but I was never really sure why or if he had ulterior motives. Over the course of Freddie’s indoctrination into The Cause, I never got the feeling that he was getting “better.” His overt sexual thoughts, alcoholism, and disruptive behavior almost always remained the same. The only thing that did change was Freddie’s belief in what Dodd was selling, as later in the film he would retaliate against those who challenged or doubted Dodd. Through it all, Dodd always seemed to be in control and unfazed by anything that Freddie, Dodd’s own followers, or even skeptics threw at him. If he was unsure about anything having to do with The Cause, he never showed it–and never did he seem malicious.

In the end, the film left me with more questions than it gave me answers. Was Freddie always a troubled soul, or did the war turn him this way? Was Freddie ever a faithful disciple of The Cause? And were Dodd’s motives in taking in Freddie in good faith or did he mean to brainwash him? Did The Cause do Freddie any good? Does the title of the film refer to Dodd since he is, well, the character with that name? The movie certainly isn’t about him. Or could it be in reference to something that Freddie is searching for–a, or rather THE, master to set him on the right path in life? I’d like to think I’m smart enough to know that it’s my latter guess. At the end of the day, I can’t, dear reader, give you any good answers.

Always two there are, no more, no less: a master and an apprentice–it’s up to you to figure it out.

The Master definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and if you’re more of a mainstream person you’d probably best steer clear. If you are open to art house cinema then you may want to check it out. At the very least you’ll get to see a stellar performance by Joaquin Phoenix and great supporting turns by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. Other than that, there’s not that much else I can recommend. The master of this domain, I ain’t.

The Master is currently in its second weekend of release at Consolidated Kahala 8 and Regal Dole Cannery 18.

Rating-3/5 stars // Rated R // Runtime 2hr 16min


Best of 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the top grossing film of 2011. Did it make Red Band Project' s top films of 2011?

It took a while, but we can just about close the book on 2011 with our own ‘Best of’ list for last year. I figure, if the Academy can wait till tonight to give out their awards for last year, why not the Red Band Project as well? Also, the extra time gave me the opportunity to catch up with a few more 2011 films in theaters and on DVD. So without further ado, here are my top films of 2011 . . .


You take the director and star behind the hugely successful Pirates franchise and throw in one of the most powerful effects houses in the world, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and you could have the makings of a pretty unique film. All of these traits are evident in the finished product–Rango, a quirky animated Western comedy. The animation alone is reason enough to watch the film as the animation style employed by ILM is probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s so hyper-realistic that things look and almost feel as if they’re real. Then you have Johnny Depp providing the voice for probably one of his most memorable and quirky characters ever in Rango, an eccentric chameleon who stumbles into becoming sheriff. It’s a fun story with lively characters and great animation.


With urban violence in Chicago at an all time high, a group of mediators called Ceasefire is stepping in to help curb violence before it starts. These ‘violence interrupters’ put themselves in harm’s way to diffuse situations by talking to both parties to try and calm them down. Just how are they able to reach these individuals? It’s because members of Ceasefire are former gang members and criminals who know what it’s like on the other side of the law. The film is a powerful look at the members of Ceasefire, the daily struggles they go through, the families and people that they work with, and an up close and personal look at why inner city violence escalates so quickly. The film showcases some pretty powerful and authentic moments and doesn’t shy away from the fact that not everything the group does works out. If you have the time, check out The Interruptors for yourself, for free, over at the PBS website.


This was probably one of the most fun movies of the summer if not the year. Leading into last summer I was really worried about Captain America due to the problems inherent in a character that’s not of this time. In the end it was a good move for the creators to set the film during WWII–the original era that Cap is from. The superhero period piece stayed true to the character and was a great way to provide his backstory. While we did a bunch of Avengers porn at the end, overall the story focused on Steve Rogers and how he became Captain America–a story portrayed really well in the film.


You really have to hand it to this film for trying something bold as not having dialogue and mainly relying on the audience to ‘feel’ our characters’ performances. As Wall•E proved a few years ago, you don’t have to say anything to let people know how you feel–we can pick it up from the way a character moves and looks. Beyond the Hollywood nostalgia for the good ole days, what The Artist does so well is focus on the basics: have your actors give us a good performance to tell a story.


What I love about Hugo is that it’s a story about magic. The magic of imagination, the magic of cinema, and the magic of storytelling. Martin Scorsese crafts a wonderful tale about Hugo Cabret, an orphaned boy trying to unlock the secret of a mechanical automaton. Through this process Hugo encounters a lot of different people and ends up discovering a secret that the automaton has been hiding. The film is pure magic with it being shot really well and makes the best use of 3D since Avatar.

#4 50/50

Out of all the movies I saw last year, I really wish more people had gotten a chance to see 50/50. It’s definitely not an easy sell as it deals with the subject of what a person goes through when they find out that they have cancer, but it’s definitely worth catching up with if you have the chance. Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen, Bryce Dallas Howard anchor a supurb cast in a well written story that will have you laughing and crying before the end.

#3 The Descendants

What else can I say that hasn’t already been said? From top to bottom I thought Alexander Payne put together a really great film. From Clooney’s performance to those of all the supporting characters to the way situations are dealt with to theportrayal of Hawaii, The Descendants has it all.

#2 Drive

From the opening sequence of the film, this movie had me. Ryan Gosling’s Driver is just so cool that it made me want to go drive around with a toothpick in my mouth after I saw the film. With just a few looks and not much else you can feel what his character is going through or know what he would say even though he doesn’t say anything. You also have Carey Mulligan providing a pretty solid performance as Driver’s love interest and the chemistry between them is so great that you get a sense of electricity between them even though they may just be riding together in a car or just talking with one another in the hall. Director Nicolas Winding Refn really puts together a great film with some nice visuals and a solid soundtrack.

#1 Attack the Block

This movie was the most fun I had at the theaters last year and ironically, at the time I saw it I was the only one in the theater when I saw it. What happens when an alien invasion occurs in south London and a street gang of teens are the only ones around? They kick ass and save the day that’s what. The simplest way I can describe the film is that it’s Aliens meets Goonies as you have a group of kids on an adventure to stay alive and battle these aliens who have descended on their home. The creature effects aren’t the greatest, but that doesn’t matter since the storytelling and characters more than make up for that. The whole time you’re rooting for the gang to win even though you’re not sure who is going to live and who is going to die. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I promise you, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Looking forward to in 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: I know, I know, this is obviously the most anticipated movie of the year. It’s just one guy, but yes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises easily beats out the Marvel team-up of The Avengers as the movie event of the year. So much has already come out from trailers to a ton of set photos to the prologue itself that I can’t wait for July.

The Raid: After Dark Knight, this is easily my second most anticipated film of the year. Why? Because the movie looks like it’s going to be an action packed thrill of a ride. I’ve been tracking this film since it debuted last year on the festival circuit and briefly discussed it when it played at Sundance last month. Thankfully I hear that it’s coming to Consolidated Theatres Kahala next month so I we won’t have to wait long to see this one.

Prometheus: Every time I see the trailer I can’t help but get a little more excited for this film. Initially I wasn’t, but there’s just so many good components to this film that I can’t help but get excited. I’ve always been a sci-fi guy so I’m always down for a space thriller, but you throw in great actors (Michael Fassbender & Charlize Theron to name a few) and the director of Alien; count me in!

Discoveries: Of course there’s still a bunch of stuff that I’m looking forward to seeing; the big Marvel team up of The Avengers and then there’s Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in December, but I’m also looking forward to the surprises that nobody really knows about yet. The ones we won’t discover until they come out in the theater. Hopefully they’ll be just as many this year as there were last year.


Best of 2011 from other local bloggers . . .

To put us all to shame, HIFF’s programming director Anderson Le gives us the top 10 films of 2011 that we all missed out on. [YOMYOMF – Part 1] [YOMYOMF – Part 2]

The good folks over at the Popspotting podcast give us the ‘Best of 2011’ not just for movies but for everything popculturey. [Popspotting]

Here’s their favorite films from 2011 from the book and film themed blog [I Adore Books and Film]

Nonstop’s movie guru Myong Choi lists his Fab Five Films of 2011. [Nonstop Honolulu]

And finally, the Star-Advertiser’s movie reviewer Burl Burlingame gives us his top 10. [Honolulu Pulse]


Water Gardens Keolu 4 Opens in Kailua

New signage on the front marquee announces the opening of the Keolu theater.

Residents on the Windward side of Oahu will be happy to hear that a new family friendly theater will be opening in their neck of the woods starting today. Taking over the old Wallace/Hollywood Keolu 4 Cinemas location, The Water Gardens Keolu 4 will be a sub run and family oriented theater. What exactly does “sub run” and family oriented mean? Sub run films are movies that have typically been released in the past 6-12 weeks.

So wait, they’re going to show old movies here?

Just follow me for a second cause I know that’s what you’re thinking. Yes, the films won’t be brand spanking new, but they’re not going to be super old either. The benefit of showing films that have been in release for 6-12 weeks is that the theater can charge lower ticket prices! Here are the prices via the Water Gardens Keolu 4 Facebook:

  • $5 – All Tickets
  • $1-3 – Drink & Popcorn Sizes
  • $2 – Hot Dogs
  • $2 – Cotton Candy
  • $1-2 – Candy

The price structure definitely factors into the family friendly orientation. With a $10 bill, you can get your ticket, popcorn, a drink, and candy. I’m sure that’s very appealing for anyone that wants to go to the movies and wants to save some dough.

Another aspect of the family friendly environment is that the theater will not be showing any ‘R’ rated films. Kids can come with their friends without having to worry about having an adult to purchase tickets and parents will almost certainly be able to find a movie that the whole family can enjoy. In fact, look for these films to open this weekend at Water Gardens Keolu 4:

Footloose, In Time, Puss in Boots, Real Steel, and Tower Heist are the films that will be shown on opening weekend.

If you were wondering just who’s behind Water Gardens Keolu 4, look no further than local boy and owner Scott Daniels. Growing up in Kailua, and literally right down the street from the location of the theater on Keolu Drive, Daniels is a movie lover whose most memorable movie experience was camping out at the old Cinerama to see Star Wars (Episode IV – A New Hope) when it first came out in 1977.

In talking with Daniels about the Water Gardens, though they occupy the same building as the previous theater, extensive renovations needed to be made to the space in order to get it ready for their opening. Remediation was done in areas where there was water damage from rain collection, birds had found their way into the building and had been nesting, the concession area needed to be redone, and old seats and projectors were taken out to make way for newer equipment. However, after a lot of hard work, Water Gardens Keolu 4 is ready to open its doors to the Windward community.

A few more details about Water Gardens Keolu 4:

  • Water Gardens Keolu 4 will be running on a matinee schedule (showtimes begin around 11:00/11:30 and finish before midnight) now through the beginning of January during Christmas vacation, Saturdays, and holidays.
  • Regular Monday-Friday schedule showtimes will run from about 3:00pm to midnight and will begin in early January when area schools are back in session.
  • The Water Gardens Keolu 4 will be closed on Sundays.


More on Water Gardens Keolu 4 from local media:

‘Movie theater to open in Kailua Friday’ – Pacific Business News

‘Keolu Center theater to reopen’ – Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required)


Holiday Movies for the Family: The Muppets & Arthur Christmas

Now playing at a theater near you.

Ah the holidays . . . it’s a time for turkeys, family get togethers, gifts, and for some reason movies. The months of November and December not only bring good holiday tiding, but also pull us out of the dreck of the nothingness that usually line the film slate in September and October (with a few exceptions). Generally we’re so busy with things that how anyone (aka Hollywood) ever decided to bring out really great movies during this timeframe is beyond me.

I guess it has to do with the fact that students have Thanksgiving and holiday breaks. Kids have time off and hence, families have time to go to the movies. While The Adventures of Tintin and Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 are on the horizon as potential family holiday movies, here’s a look at two films out right now that are family friendly and worth the price of admission . . .

The Muppets

Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and the entire Muppet gang are back in a new adventure.

For a little backstory, I was never a big fan of the Muppets. I didn’t hate them or anything, I mean I grew up with Sesame Street so I did find puppet characters to be entertaining. However, I never wondered where they went after I started growing into my teens. So when I heard Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) was going to bring the Muppets back to the big screen I wasn’t overly excited, but I was definitely intrigued since he did put a puppetry performance of sorts at the end of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It seemed liked the right guy was working on this project.

After all the hype, all the parody trailers, and all the parody posters, The Muppets are finally here and back on the big screen. And I have to say . . . Segal really hit a homerun with this film. The movie is so smart and funny that I think it really is one of the best comedies of the year.

Walter, Mary, and Gary make their way through Los Angeles in The Muppets.

The film definitely harkens back to the Muppets’ variety show roots as the basic premise of the story is that they have to all come back together to put on a show to save their former studio digs. The driving force behind the Muppet roundup is Walter (a puppet who is not a Muppet) and his brother Gary (played by real life human being Segal). Together with Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), they manage to roundup Kermit and the rest of the gang to put on this show.

As I mentioned earlier, the comedy of the film is probably the thing I loved most. The jokes were really smart and I ate up the self referential humor the characters had. If there ever was a fourth wall in the film, it was totally demolished by the end. Sometimes it can take you out of a film when the characters know that they’re in a movie and make references toward that fact. With The Muppets though, they did it in such a way where they made fun of common movie devices (such as montages and plot holes) that were smart and that I’ve often questioned myself in other films.

80's Robot (driving, right) provides one of the funniest laughs of the film in this scene from The Muppets.

Another aspect that made the film fun were the Muppet characters themselves. The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan were probably the best Muppet movies and in this new film the filmmakers definitely keep each of the characters’ personalities intact. Though the voices may have been a little different, the characters on screen now are the same Muppets that I saw in those older films. Maybe a little older and a little more seasoned, but definitely the same characters.

Like any character that’s been out of the spotlight for a while, I liked the fact that all of the characters seemed a bit more serious since they all had moved on from their Muppet Show days. Even Kermit, who generally is the straight man in the Muppets organization, seemed a bit more serious that before–which I didn’t mind, but thought it made him seem more real and more contemporary.

The rest of the elements of the film are icing on the cake. The musical numbers are fun and provide their own laughs as well. There’s also a ton of cameos by a number of celebrities (Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez just to name a few) that provide more jokes and laughs as well. Last, but not least, the heartwarming feel good story of any Muppet movie is there as well. While you may see it coming, that doesn’t take anything away from the genuine feelings that you develop for the Muppets over the course of the film.

Red Band Project rating – 4/5 stars // Rated PG // runtime – 1h 38m

Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas (pictured above) is Santa's youngest son and sets out on a quest to deliver the last Christmas present in the film that bears his name.

Not going to lie, I didn’t think much going into Arthur Christmas. I thought it was going to be just another cheesy holiday film about Christmas. However, from the opening sequence alone I was pretty much sold on this film.

The film opens on Christmas Eve as Santa and his elves are delivering the last bunch of presents. When they return home to the North Pole Santa proclaims that he can’t wait to do this all again next year, much to the chagrin of his oldest son Steve-who expected his dad to step down after this year. Amidst all this celebration, it is discovered that one present went undelivered. Out of 2 billion kids what’s just one missed present? That sets up a quest (and the plot of our protagonist) for Santa’s younger son Arthur. For what little time is left on Christmas Eve, Arthur strives to deliver this last present. For what does Christmas ultimately mean if even one child loses faith in Santa?

Santa on the bridge of the S1, a new sleigh for the new millenium.

My vision of Santa (yes, I still believe in the dude) is the one I think that most of us have: old guy with a beard wearing a red coat bringing presents to children all over the world in his sleigh pulled by reindeer. Yeah well, that’s how Christmas was 50 years ago. These days the story is different. While the job is still the same, Arthur Christmas shows us how Santa has modernized his operation for the new millennium. Old wooden sleigh . . . gone, replaced by the snazzy starship-like S1 which mimics the night’s sky on it’s underside. Santa’s little helpers . . . they’re still here in this version, though they’re now an elite elf tactical team that employs special forces-like precision to make sure that presents are delivered on time, to the right boys and girls, and above all– unseen. Oh, did I mention Santa’s arsenal includes all kinds of specialized gadgets that would make Q from the 007 series green with envy. I’m generally a sucker for military movies, especially contemporary ones that show modern day forces and tactics. This is exactly what the opening of the film gives you and I ate it all up.

Not to say that the film goes downhill from here. Solid storytelling and characters definitely propel the film through all the way to the end. Each member of the Santa family is definitely fleshed out and is fun to watch, especially when the Santa family gathers for a post-Christmas dinner. You may see shades of your own family’s awkward holiday dinner interactions in that scene.

Arhur gets a little help from Grandsanta (left) and Bryony (center) in Grandsanta's old wooden sleigh.

The solid character building eventually leads to another thing that I liked about the film . . . there’s no “bad guy.” While the setup is perfect for the older son Steve to be the bad guy, things don’t turn out this way. I guess since it’s a Christmas movie the filmmakers may not have wanted to present anyone as “the bad guy,” but I actually think this strengthens the story and makes part of the message of the film fit with Arthur’s goal of delivering the last present . . . what happens when you take the magic out of Christmas and reduce it to statistics and values? Like I mentioned, there are no bad characters in the film–just good people not making the best decisions. While I won’t give away the end, let’s just say that the spirit of Christmas is preserved and the Santa family comes to realize what Christmas is really about. Something all of us need to remember every once and a while.

On a final note, if you can help it, Arthur Christmas doesn’t need to be seen in 3D. Save the kids and yourself the trouble and see it in 2D if you can. There wasn’t all that much 3D-ness in the film that warrants the price of the 3D surcharge.

Red Band Project rating – 3.5/5 Stars // rated PG // runtime – 1h 40m


Arthur Christmas and The Muppets extra helpings:

Really great interview with Arthur Christmas director Sarah Smith over at Cinemablend

Local review of The Muppets by Myong Choi over at Nonstop Honolulu

Local review of The Muppets by Ryan & Jen over at Popspotting

Local review of The Muppets by David Nishimoto over at the Honolulu Examiner

Have a happy holidays at the theaters everyone!


Go Out and See The Descendants!

The talk of this year's Hawaii International Film Festival is finally out in theaters.

HIFF 31 wrapped exactly one month ago, and while the hoopla from the closing night film The Descendants died off a short while after that, it’s all being ramped back up again as the film makes it way to local shores today in an expanded limited release. Seriously, more about The Descendants!?! Yes, more Descendants! More Clooney! More Shailene Woodley! (who?). Anyway, here are a few reasons why you should go out and see The Descendants this Thanksgiving weekend . . .

    1. IT’S SET IN HAWAII :: Yes, us locals are always suckers for when Hollywood productions are set or filmed in Hawaii. I’m not sure about everyone else, but films about or shot in Hawaii always get a few more points in my book, mainly because I think it’s good exposure for the state AND it’s sort of a thing of pride. It also features a lot of local Hawaiian music, predominantly from Gabby Pahinui but also from other local singers as well. Tons of movies are filmed/set in New York or LA. Movies filmed or set in Hawaii are few and far between so anytime I can brag to people about a movie from Hawaii . . . I’ll take it!
    1. GREAT PERFORMANCES :: While George Clooney is the headlining star of the film, he’s not the only one that stands out. Right next to him should be Shailene Woodley who plays Clooney’s daughter in the film. She’s just as great if not better than Clooney. Also count solid performances from Judy Greer, Matt Lillard, and Robert Forster and you’ve got a bunch of great actors contributing to the film.
    1. GREAT STORY :: The story by local author Kaui Hart Hemmings is masterfully adapted to the screen by director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) and perfectly folds humor and sadness into the heart wrenching plot of the film. You can literally be laughing in one scene and then crying in the next. It’s storytelling at it’s finest.
    1. OSCAR BUZZ :: Even before it’s release last week Wednesday, The Descendants has been gathering a lot of positive Oscar buzz on the film festival circuit. Come Academy Awards time February, don’t you want to be able to say you saw at least one film that deserves to have an award? You’ll be able to contribute to any Oscar conversation as I’m sure The Descendants will pick up multiple nominations.

Where to see The Descendants?

So, here comes the tricky part. Though the film has been released today, it’s not a ‘wide release’. Wide releases are your typical Hollywood films that are released at every theater in your city/town. The Descendants is a film brought to you by Fox Searchlight. While Fox Searchlight is associated with 20th Century Fox (one of the big six studios) it is its own entity and is actually a smaller studio/film distributor that focuses on independent and art house cinema. The film is making it’s way to Hawaii via an expanded limited release. Limited release films generaly start off playing in New York and Los Angeles and gradually expand to playing in other, less populated, cities in forthcoming weeks.

As such, The Descendants is only playing at three theaters on Oahu:

Choose the appropriate location for your movie viewing.

Anything else I should know?

I know it can be a bit much taking my word for it on seeing The Descendants. So, here’s what other local film bloggers have been saying about the film (we pretty much all agree that you should see it):

Jen and Ryan over at the Popspotting podcast

Ed Morita over at NonStop Honolulu

Suzie Setzler over at the I Adore Books and Film blog

Burl Burlingame over at Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s HonoluluPulse

Mindy Pennybackers over at the Honolulu Weekly


This X-Men Movie is First Class!

James McAvoy is Professor Charles Xavier . . . the original incepter.

Ladies and gentlemen . . . the summer movie season has officially started! Just got back from a late showing of X-Men First Class and I have to say that I was pretty blown away by the film. I’d been hearing good buzz from the blogosphere, but that didn’t prepare me for how good this movie was going to be. Just how good is X-Men First Class? It’s the first movie of the summer that I want to see again! Here are some quick highlights:

  • THE CHARACTERS: Almost all the characters are portrayed pretty well by the actors. Everyone had be believe that their characters were authentic and I generally felt for each of them when each character faced their own particular hurdle in the film. The two best though definitely anchoring the film had to be . . .
  • THE CHARLES/ERIK RELATIONSHIP: They are arch enemies in the comics, but their history as portrayed in this film I felt was really spot on. They were once friends and we get to see why. Their friendship and relationship felt genuine. However, you could see the train wreck coming the whole time, but you still had to watch and see how they would go their separate ways. McAvoy and Fassbender were great in the two lead roles.
  • AWESOME POWER USE: How the X-Men and mutants in the film used their powers and how those powers were portrayed were really well done. Most of the time power use in the film was for practical application–which was fine because it fit within the story. Sometimes I feel comic book movies overdo power use and make things more than they need to be, especially when CGI and special effects are involved. Thankfully their use of powers was appropriate when necessary and larger than life when necessary.
  • IT FIT WITH X-MEN 1 & 2: This film perfectly lined up with the characters in the first two films which added to the awesomeness of this film–character motivations in future films are apparent in this one. And of course this film fit . . . it was produced by the director of the first two, Bryan Singer.
  • KEVIN BACON: I know, call me crazy, but I liked Kevin Bacon in the villan role. He could have played it SO over the top, but he didn’t. You could have laughed at him because he did Footloose (ok well, you do laugh at that, but then the movie goes on). Again, another good casting choice in my opinion.
So yeah, I’m pretty over the moon about this film, and after having said all that did I find anything wrong or bad with it? Well yeah, there are a few things that didn’t quite fit (accuracy of character origins) and some technical issues (not the greatest CGI in some scenes), but for the most part . . . the awesomeness of the film FAR outweighed any negative aspects.
Definitely fun, and definitely a great summer movie.

Other Local Reviews:

coconutwireless‘s review at The Tiki Outpost

Myong Choi’s review from Nonstop Honolulu


SXSW Bumper ‘Mario’ . . . Is Awesome

It's Super Star time.

Video games on the silver screen have had a spotty track record at best with a number of  movies not living up to the popularity of their original incarnations. Remember a while back when they released that Super Mario Bros movie (or maybe you just don’t want to)?  Yeah well, that didn’t work out too well.  However, if you were fortunate enough to attend SXSW this year, you got to see a slightly different take on a film adaption of Super Mario Bros. One that is grounded a bit more in reality.

As part of the SXSW Film, Joe Nicolosi was commissioned to create five bumpers; one of which would be played before each film during the festival. Bumpers are short film clips that precede films and usually let the audience know that this particular film is playing at a particular film festival or theater chain. The one bumper that stands out is the one titled ‘Mario.’ I don’t really want to spoil anything here, but you really do have to watch the bumper to see how great it is. All I’m going to say is that it’s a great take on Super Mario Bros.


Check out the rest of the SXSW bumpers here: Constellations, The Line, Doc Bumper


Early Year Doldrums Lead to New Discoveries

Oahu cinemas looked a lot like desert landscapes in January and February . . . barren and uninviting.

Before this weekend, if I had to guess how many times the average Oahu resident saw a movie since the new year started, I would have to guess that they probably saw just one movie in theaters. Even those who enjoy going to the movies on a regular basis (such as myself) have had a hard time finding anything of value to watch in cinemas for the past month and a half.

Typically the beginning of the year marks somewhat of a dead period for Hollywood. I’m not exactly sure why that is (maybe they want to give their films breathing room for potential Oscar nominations), but whatever the case may be; what is a moviegoer to do? Just check out the options we had from Hollywood for January & February:

Collage of Hollywood film movie posters.January Major Studio Releases

  • Country Strong
  • Season of the Witch
  • The Dilemma
  • The Green Hornet
  • No Strings Attached
  • The Mechanic
  • The Rite

February Major Studio Releases

  • The Roommmate
  • Sanctum
  • The Eagle
  • Gnomeo & Juliet
  • Just Go With It
  • Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
  • Big Mommas: Life Father, Like Son
  • I Am Number Four
  • Unknown
  • Drive Angry
  • Hall Pass

Until now we haven’t had anything all that great in theaters from Hollywood (outside of The Green Hornet maybe). Things do finally start to pick up this weekend with the release of I Am Number Four and Unknown.

What we have had though, is an influx of smaller art house cinema that has stepped in and filled the void that has been left by Hollywood. I know that art house cinema isn’t for everyone, however, there are some good selections to be had from the crop of smaller films that have been playing at our local theaters. You just have to do a little research about these films beforehand, go in with an open mind, and I’m sure anyone could find something to like from these smaller films. Take a look at these art house, Asian, and foreign films that have played in local theaters since the beginning of the year:

Collage of art house, asian, and foreign film posters.January Art House/Foreign Releases:

  • Dear Doctor
  • I Love You Phillip Morris
  • Made In Dagenham
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
  • Lebanon
  • Rabbit Hole
  • Ong Bak III
  • Blue Valentine
  • The Way Back
  • Another Year
  • Ip Man 2

February Art House/Foreign Releases:

  • The Company Men
  • Finding Mr. Destiny
  • Somewhere
  • The Illusionist
  • Biutiful
  • Oscar Shorts: Animated
  • Oscar Shorts: Live Action
  • Casino Jack
  • Barney’s Version

People tend to think that the only time of the year when Hawaii gets really diverse and unique films playing in a theater are the 7-10 days in April and October when HIFF is up and running. To those people I say, you need to get out more. The films just mentioned have played at different theaters around Oahu and the beginning of the year is a perfect time to bring this kind of content out in cinemas since Hollywood has only been dumping junk for us to see.

Granted, you do need to get out there and check theater listings to see what’s playing, and yes, sometimes you might even need to drive farther to see some of these features than you would to your regular theater. However, I have always been a proponent of the fact that we need to support what we have before we can get what we want.

So, before the Academy Awards and a decent slate of March films approach us in the coming weekends, if you haven’t already done so, I’d suggested double checking what’s playing in cinemas again and don’t be afraid to take a chance on some of these films you may not have heard of.


Photos: Harry Potter 7 Midnight Line-Up at Ward

The marquee at Ward had an entire block dedicated to the midnight showings.

Last night we took in the advance screening of Disney’s new film Tangled. Before and after the showing however, we encountered some of the Hawaii Potter faithful as they eagerly awaited midnight showings at Ward. Check out the pics from various times during the evening.


Before our Tangled screening, these were the only folks waiting in line–on the upper deck just past the automated ticket kiosks. Over seven hours out from showtime, you have to give these people credit:



After coming out from our screening there were a lot more people on the upper deck. However, the center staircase was still empty:



What a difference an hour makes. After coming out of dinner at D&B’s, Potter fans spilled out into the central staircase, the backside staircase from Buca leading up to the box office, and the upper deck:


Did you seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 at midnight last night?

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