“Draft Day”

Kevin Costner scores in his 5th sports movie- this time centering on the 24 hours leading up the NFL draft.

It’s not a classic like his “Field Of Dreams” or “Bull Durham” but I have to say Kevin Costner scores another touchdown with his latest sports film. Who knew the NFL draft was so drama-filled???!!!

Costner stars as the general manager of the NFL-worst Browns, trying to put his team back together with the number one pick at the NFL draft. Parts of this film were actually filmed at the draft at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Jennifer Garner is his love interest, and also in charge of staying one step ahead of the salary cap. Denis Leary is perfect as his oppositional head coach. Ellen Burstyn has a small role as GM’s mom and Rosanna Arquette has an even smaller role as his ex-wife. The standout is Chadwick Boseman as a Browns wanna-be tackle . Boseman has cut his teeth on two other sports films , “The Express” and “42” and will play the late James Brown in an upcoming biopic. This is one winning actor. Just tremendous and immensely likeable.

While a movie about the NFL draft may sound boring, this one’s anything but. I rarely met a sports films I didn’t like but this one really has me cheering.

3 stars

“The Railway Man”

A tale of peace through forgiveness, based on the real life of a British POW in a Japanese work camp.

Based on a bestselling memoir, Colin Firth stars as real-life British Army officer Eric Lomax who survives unspeakable torture in a Japanese work camp to discover late life love (with Nicole Kidman’s character) and ultimate reconciliation and healing with one of the men responsible for his hell on earth.

Firth is understated in an absolutely Oscar-worthy performance . Kidman is quiet as the weepy, shutout wife in these times before we ever heard the word post traumatic stress disorder. Most astonishing is the performance by 24 year old Jeremy Irvine as the younger Lomax. Irvine’s last big movie was the World War 1-based “War Horse”.

This is one that should not be forgotten or ignored come Oscar-time!!!

3-and-a-half stars

“Only Lovers Left Alive”

A vampire movie for intellectuals.

This one just may be an instant classic. The tres artsy Jim Jarmusch has created the thinking person’s vampire film. A non-scary vampire film. A love story over the ages for the ages. An older woman-younger man vampire movie. Tilda Swinton is a few thousand years older and as a result, a whole lot more optimistic and resilient than the brooding human-hating scientist/indie rocker Tom Hiddleston (best known for the villain in “Thor”. She’s Eve. He’s Adam.

There’s so much to love about this film. There’s lots of droll humor and many asides to art, music, literature and science. John Hurt plays a vampire named Marlowe (named for the writer some think was the real writer of Shakespeare’s work) . Mia Wasikowska is Eve’s younger uncontrollable sister from L.A. , who denounces Adam and Eve as snobs when Ava is thrown out for killing a human (Anton Yelchin ) for his blood. Adam and Eve are so evolved, they no longer kill humans or even suck enough blood to turn the humans into vampires. They buy pure blood from professional institutions. Besides, the zombies (that’s what Adam calls humans) have tainted the blood supply with disease- so blood straight from a human is risky and can actually lead to a vampire’s demise.

The film is mostly set in Detroit where the relunctantly famous Adam (think the late Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder as vampires) figures he won’t be found by his fans. We get a nighttime tour of the relics, including the home where rocker Jack White grew up. White starred in Jarmusch’s 2003 film “Coffee and Cigarettes”. There are lots of asides like this in the film- I probably missed more than a a few.

Twilda Swinton was born to play a vampire. Tom Hiddleston is equally elegant and fashionable . The clothes!!!!!

This is one that begs a second view. I’m a sucker for vampire movies but this one’s so bloody good, I can’t stop talking about it.

4 stars


Rio 2

If you like Rio (the first one) you'll like the sequel Rio 2 although the first is still the king. Blu, Jewel and their three kids go to to the wilds of the Amazon trying to find more of their kind.. As Blu tries to fit in (which is extremely difficult as he's a city bird), he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel but then meets the most fearsome adversary of all - his father-in-law. This is the reason all those in-law jokes were invented in the first place.

All your favorite RIO characters are back, and they're joined by Oscar nominee Andy Garcia, Grammy winner Bruno Mars (who is awesome), Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar/Emmy/Tony winner Rita Moreno.

We'll give it 3 stars. Kids, because they loved Rio 1, loved it. I thought the script was magical in the first but a little more complicated in the second Rio.

Marc Coppola for Shelli Sonstein