The Coens are Back with Goofball Antics

by Noel T. Manning II

Hail, Caesar! offers fun and quirky characters, humorous dialogue & creative set pieces in a mystery/comedy set around a classic Hollywood movie studio.

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The story itself is a simple hostage return for ransom theme, but it is the multiple intricate set pieces and cameos that provide the entertainment value. Channing Tatum as a singing sailor & Scarlett Johansson as a mermaid offer some memorable moments, as well as my favorite character a singing cowboy played by Alden Ehrenreich.

The Coen brothers films are not for everyone and can be an acquired taste – this one is no different. There are certain threads throughout the film that seem thrown in for the pure sake of the fun, with very little connection to the actual storyline. But, for me I still found myself laughing throughout.

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This is not going to be classic Coen in the vein of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, but no one can mug overacting goofball comic faces with the Coens better than George Clooney … and that makes this worth a view, if for nothing else. This will not be one I’ll revisit over and over agin, but I’m happy to have caught it once. This film earns a C+on the Cinemascene scorecard.

A Time to Laugh, and a Time to Cry

Inside Out Explores the Power of Emotional Wellbeing

by Noel T. Manning II

bing-bong“Inside Out” is one of Pixar’s best. This animated family film offers an incredibly creative look at the power of emotions, and the fragile balancing act that occurs within our minds on a daily basis. The wonderful screenplay provides fun, and yet extraordinarily touching moments that will transport viewers into the depths of what we think, and how we feel. It also examines the hurdles we must overcome when challenges and conflicts of the mind arise.

12 year-old Riley has the perfect life – She has wonderful and caring

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INSIDE OUT – Pictured (L-R): Riley’s Mom, Riley Andersen, Riley’s Dad. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

parents to guide her, close friends to share her dreams and desires, and ideal opportunities for sports and other activities. She loves her house, her surroundings, and all that Minnesota has to offer. Yet, when her family makes a move to San Francisco, and Riley is uprooted from all that’s comfortable and ideal within her universe, she begins to lose her joy of life. This transition and change triggers a host of challenges that Riley isn’t quite prepared for.

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INSIDE OUT – Pictured (L-R): Riley’s Mom, Riley Andersen, Riley’s Dad. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

At some point in everyone’s life we come face to face with a moment that activates an emotional outburst or response. For most of us, at some point, we find ways to regain composure and get ourselves under control, and refocused. But what would happen if emotions like anger, fear and disgust became dominant, and happiness and joy were nowhere to be found? This beautifully constructed case study examines that with originality and delightful vision. The audience is also presented with the question: can you have joy without also experiencing sadness? One would have to look no further than Old Testament scripture for the answer in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

“Inside Out” also has the amazing voice talent of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling taking the lead. With maxresdefaultintoxicating (and at times quite freaky) animation, fascinating and memorable characters, and a magnificent message, this is by far the best animation of the year so far.

The Cinemascene report card awards “Inside Out” a solid “A” rating.

“Inside Out” is rated PG and has a running time of 1 hour 42 minutes.