All posts by Tim Lammers

Movie review: Screen icons bring class to ‘Going in Style’

“Going in Style” (PG-13)

Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin appear together on the big screen for the very first time in “Going in Style,” a funny and poignant remake of the 1979 comedy heist film of the same name starring George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strassberg.

The Oscar-winning film luminaries play lifelong friends who have toiled for decades at a steel mill, and upon retirement, they’re shocked to learn their pensions have been dissolved.

All virtually broke and with foreclosure pending for one of them, the trio hatches a plan to rob the bank that’s involved in the pension fiasco to recoup what would be coming to them if they hadn’t been swindled by their company.

Of course, the whole idea of three guys pushing 80 pulling off a heist in “Going in Style” is ridiculous and a lot of the comedy comes from that scenario.

And while the film is predictable, you can’t help but love seeing the actors (including screen icon Ann-Margret) together in one space – especially when you consider how many more opportunities we’ll get to see them in film. Caine’s 84, Arkin is 83 and Freeman will turn 80 in a couple months, so they needed to strike when the iron when it was hot before they make that sad decision that their time in Hollywood is over.

Interview: Ann-Margret talks ‘Going in Style’
LINK: See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola and more on his new YouTube channel.

The best thing about “Going in Style” is that director Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) didn’t use the actors as punch lines because they’re up in their years. Yes, comedy does arise because of their age, but Braff never loses sight of the very real situation retirees face in today’s volatile financial climate. Overall, it’s a wonderful combination of real characters in outlandish situations that manages to make you laugh without being exploitative.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

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Tim Burton Book 2
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Interview: Ann-Margret talks ‘Going in Style’

Big screen icon has Ann-Margret has starred in many classic films over her illustrious 56-year screen career, including a pair of movies about two “Grumpy Old Men” (Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) from Minnesota in 1993 and 1995.

And while scripts containing the flavor of those films undoubtedly landed on the actress’ doorstep for the past two decades, Ann-Margret avoided taking any roles involving more grumpy old men — that is until an opportunity came about to work with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin that was too good to pass up.

In a recent phone conversation from New York City, Ann-Margret said her impressions of the legendary actors were exactly as she hoped they would be.

“I had done a film with Alan Arkin before, so I knew him and we’re friends. But to see these three guys together — ‘the boys,’ I call them — I saw them as teenagers; a

s 17-year-olds,” Ann-Margret said. “Sometimes when you look at someone and try to imagine what they were like when they were younger, and the boys are still the same.”

untitled-09590.dngAnn-Margret and Alan Arkin in “Going in Style.” (Warner Bros.)

Opening Friday in theaters nationwide, “Going in Style” is a remake of 1979 comedy that starred George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strassberg, but in director Zach Braff’s version, it’s been updated to reflect the volatile climate retirees face in today’s society.

Caine, Freeman and Arkin play Joe, Willie and Albert, respectfully, a trio of lifelong friends whose pensions become a casualty of corporate America despite devoting their lives to their work. Hard-pressed to keep up with their bills, the retired steelworks hatch a plan to rob the very bank that ripped them off.

Ann-Margret plays Annie, a fiery grocery cashier who takes a liking to Albert, even though he feels his days of romance are far behind him.

“I think it’s cute that she gets a crush on Arkin’s character — this grumpy old man who never looks at her and never smiles,” Ann-Margret said, laughing. “But she gets this vibration from him. She goes after him. She’s been divorced for a long time, but she gets this feeling from him and feels blessed that she’s getting that feeling again.”

Ann-Margret said she felt blessed to work with Arkin again following their pairing as the in-laws of Tim Allen’s St. Nick in “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” in 2006, and the screen legend said in a separate phone conversation that he feels the exact same way.

“She’s an absolute delight,” Arkin said. “She’s like a kid doing her first movie. She’s game, she’s fun, and she’s got a wonderful sense of humor and will try anything. She’s just a delight.”

Ann-Margret said like the “Grumpy Old Men” movies, she was drawn to the script of “Going in Style” because it doesn’t treat men and women of a certain age as punch lines. Even though the film is a comedy and the characters up in their years, they most definitely are made up of substance,  emotion and in Annie’s case in particular, passion.

“I love the fact that I’m playing this woman who is living, I mean she’s really living her life,” Ann-Margret, 75, enthused. “You’re not dead when you reach a certain age, and you can still have love and passion and everything if you’re lucky enough. You have to keep living and not sit home and watch TV alone. You have to participate.”

LINK: See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola and more on his new YouTube channel.

Luckily for Ann-Margret, Arkin, Caine and Freeman were more than willing to participate with “Going in Style,” and she can’t even to say how much of a blast it was working with them.

“I had such fun. These guys are adorable,” Ann-Margret said. “They’re mischievous and full of life.”

Tim Burton Book 2
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Review: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ hollow; ‘Boss Baby’ rules

“Ghost in the Shell” (PG-13)

Scarlett Johansson tries without success to breathe new life into “Ghost in a Shell,” the live-action version of the heralded Anime manga-turned-animated movie series. Johansson plays Major, the robotic shell that holds the brain of an unknown woman in futuristic Japan. The idea is that with the brain the soul of the person will inhabit its new cybernetic body, but instead the brain’s memories are suppressed as Major is turned into a weapon to track and eliminate criminals.


Listen to Tim’s reviews of “Ghost in the Shell” and “The Boss Baby” on KQRS with Tom Barnard by clicking the audio player above. Also, hear Tim’s reviews of the films with Bob Sansevere on “The BS Show.”

While the visuals are spectacular – the film feels like a combination of “The Matrix” and any number of virtual reality video games – “Ghost in the Shell” is ultimately dull and uninspiring. It’s hard to get engaged by Johansson’s portrayal, since she plays the character devoid of emotion throughout the entire film. If you want to see Johansson truly kick ass, then rent her brain-enhancing sci-fi thriller Lucy, where she shows the true mettle of an action movie star.

Lammometer: 5 (out of 10)

LINK: See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola and more on his new YouTube channel.

“The Boss Baby” (PG)

Alec Baldwin is brilliant as the voice of “The Boss Baby,” an animated feature intended for the kid set that actually plays better for adults. The title character is an infant adopted by a suburban couple with a 7-year-old son, who in secret is a cut-throat businessman who has to carry out a vital plan.

Babies, as it turns out, were at one time considered the cutest thing in the world, but dogs – particularly puppies – are dangerously close to taking that mantle over; especially once the baby’s new parents are scheduled to help unveil a new breed of dog that stays a puppy forever.

Backed by inventive visuals and peppy dialogue, Baldwin pours his all into the portrayal of “The Boss Baby.” Oddly enough, a lot of the smart dialogue will fly over little kids’ heads, and parents will undoubtedly get more out of the film than their children.

Lammometer: 8 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!

Movie review: ‘Life’ supported by other alien thrillers, ‘T2 Trainspotting’ compelling sequel

“Life” (R)

“Alien” meets “Gravity” meets a smattering of other sci-fi thrillers in “Life,” a space tale that suffers from the lack of originality, but makes up for it in thrills.

Taking place almost entirely aboard the International Space Station, a crew of astronauts from around the globe (including Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds) marvel at the creation of a Martian organism, which rapidly grows into squid-like creature that’s hell-bent on killing each one of them.

Director Daniel Espinosa (“Safe Room”) creates a tense atmosphere as the film builds to an inevitable conclusion with a “Twilight Zone”-like twist. Espinosa gets high marks especially for creating a pair of on-screen demises that may never have been done before. It’s too bad the rest of the film couldn’t have been as inspired.

Lammometer:  6 (out of 10)

LINK: See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola and more on his new YouTube channel.

“T2 Trainspotting” (R)

Director Danny Boyle reunites his incredible cast from the original “Trainspotting” 21 years ago with the cheekily titled “T2,” a compelling sequel to the original crime tale about the dangers surrounding a group of heroin junkies in Scotland in the 1990s.

“T2” appropriately picks up 20 years after the events of the first film, where Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), returns to Scotland after he stole 16 thousand pounds from his friends to bolt from the country and build a new life in Amsterdam.

But when that life falls apart, he decides to try to make amends with two members of the group (Jonny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremer); a move that puts him in peril because the other friend, the psychotic Franco Begbie (Robert Carlyle, who is frightening and funny at the same time) wants Renton dead in the worst way.

Marked by great performances, fantastic tunes and inventive direction by Boyle, fans of the original will especially love “T2,” which perfectly brings the tale of Renton and his mates completely full circle after a 20-year wait.

Lammometer:  8 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!