Movie NERD

Review "Layer Cake"

"Layer Cake" (2004)

An unnamed mid-level cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) in London makes plans to step away from the criminal life. Before he can cut ties, the dealer's supplier Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) draws him into a complicated pair of jobs involving kidnapping the teenage daughter of a rival gangster (Michael Gambon) and brokering the purchase of a large shipment of ecstasy pills from a dealer known as "the Duke" (Jamie Foreman), leading to a series of elaborate double-crosses from all corners.

Matthew Vaughan's Layer Cake is one of the better and underrated films of 2004. Daniel Craig plays the lead role, a drug dealer who considers himself a business man who is strictly professional and does not even like to use guns. Craig's character has had enough of the trade and wants to go out on top. However complications arise in a new deal set before him by his supplier and he cannot resist.

A complicated and twisted plot revolving around a missing girl, one million stolen pills of ecstasy and who can Craig's character sell these pills too. Craig is upbeat and calm in his role, trying to mediate between varying interests who want to buy the pills or want the pills returned to their rightful owner.

The supporting cast surrounding Craig is solid, most notably Colm Meaney and George Harris. The plot seems long and takes turns that you do not expect and have little warning of. I found that refreshing and it kept me wanting more. I never knew what to expect next and Craig played it perfectly trying to work his way through his mess of trying to get rid of these drugs.

The ending might but cause some people uneasiness because of its abruptness and sheer lack of predictability (in my opinion). After every mishap for Craig, you are just glad you were able to sift through all the mirages and double crosses in the abrupt ending. The ending is very different from most American films but nonetheless it was fun and unpredictable.

(8/10)

Review "I Feel Pretty"

"I Feel Pretty" (2018)

A woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis wakes from a fall believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. With this newfound confidence, she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen when she realizes her appearance never changed?

It's not supposed to be an Oscar-worthy, slow, deep, depressing drama. BE SERIOUS. This movie is exactly what it claims to me ... a fun, accurate, timely portrayal of how we treat ourselves and each other! Those side-eyes we all throw and the whispering about each other and "who does she think she is" looks ... and the comments we feel entitled to say to each other or about each other. Nailed it. We can do better. I know I can.

What else does it nail? Beauty and confidence come from the inside, how we talk to ourselves does matter, stunningly beautiful people still have feelings and struggles and insecurities, true friends call you out when you're out of line, you don't have to be good at everything, do what you have to do to feel comfortable in your own skin and then ROCK it because you are AMAZING. I laughed. I cried a little. I related and related and related. It's an important, universally-applicable, valuable, timely lesson. Don't listen to the haters about this movie, or anything else really. If you need a pep talk, go see it. If you need to help someone else understand their worth, go see it. If you need a reminder that you're not alone, go see it. If you can only enjoy movies that are Oscar bound, I still think you should see it. I guarantee someone around you needs to hear what it has to say.

I am not a huge Schumer fan, however she does well in this film. Go see it and decide for yourself.

(7/10)

Review "Mission Impossible"

"Mission Impossible" (1996)

STORY: Mission: Impossible follows an espionage team known as the IMF (Impossible Missions Force), led by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), who were on a mission in Prague to prevent a diplomat from the non-official covers list, which is a list of all the secret agents in Eastern Europe.

When most of the colleagues in the team get killed, the mission had failed, and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was the lone survivor after the mission had failed. After that, Hunt embarks on another mission to clear his name.

MY THOUGHTS: Although I had never, ever watched the original TV show, I didn't know what to expect from this movie, when I first heard about it.

After watching Mission: Impossible for the first time seven months ago, I thought this was a really enjoyable spy thriller.

This is one of those movies where you must pay attention from beginning to end because there are some twists in there. If you don't pay enough attention, you'll be really confused on what's going on.

I thought the plot twists in this movie were pretty shocking, and the direction by Brian De Palma was great. Also, there were only a few action sequences in this movie that were really gripping. Like the part on the train, I was on the edge of my seat during that scene, and when Tom Cruise is in the CIA headquarters retrieving a computer disk in a secured room with the help of Jean Reno and Ving Rhames, which I thought was really-well shot. I would call that scene as a rather quiet one, but it was still gripping.

THE ACTING: Tom Cruise does a great job playing Ethan Hunt. It kind of bugs me that people are saying that Tom Cruise can't act to save a life. Well, try watching these movies, and you'll probably like him.

Jon Voight did great as the leader of the IMF. Jean Reno and Ving Rhames were great as the two agents who helped Ethan on his mission.

IN CONCLUSION: Mission: Impossible is a great start to the Mission: Impossible series, which it had really good twists, good acting, especially from Tom Cruise, great direction by Brian De Palma, and it had some great action sequences.

(9.5/10)

Review "Shock and Awe"

"Shock and Awe" (2018)

  Is a drama directed by and co-starring Rob Reiner. As often occurs in movies based on real events, the filmmakers conclude their drama and then, under the end credits, show us news footage of the events’ actual people. In this case, those include four reporters from Knight-Ridder Newspapers who probed and questioned the lead-up to the Iraq War when outfits like the New York Times, Washington Post and the major TV networks were simply spewing lies fed them by the George W. Bush administration.

This is a fascinating movie about the faulty and fabricated "intelligence" that dragged the US into ongoing war after 9/11. It's a true story about the Knight-Ridder news agency that reported the facts despite the efforts of the Bush-Cheney administration to mislead the American people in pursuit of an unjustifiable war. The movie follows the journalists who sought the truth and questioned the reality of the facts even as they observed their reputable colleagues who were mistakenly perpetrating falsehoods. The movie is neither a biographical description of journalists reporting about 9/11 nor is it a nuanced story about weapons of mass destruction: the movie describes the reality of the events and it is exciting to follow as the truth unfolds. Kudos to Reiner and Co. A well done film. A real 10!

(10/10)

Review "Friday the 13th"

"Friday the 13th" (1980)

Crystal Lake's history of murder doesn't deter counselors from setting up a summer camp in the woodsy area. Superstitious locals warn against it, but the fresh-faced young people -- Jack (Kevin Bacon), Alice (Adrienne King), Bill (Harry Crosby), Marcie (Jeannine Taylor) and Ned (Mark Nelson) -- pay little heed to the old-timers. Then they find themselves stalked by a brutal killer. As they're slashed, shot and stabbed, the counselors struggle to stay alive against a merciless opponent.

Without a doubt, the work of Cunningham and Carpenter during 1978 & 1980 rocked the world of the horror genre. Friday the 13th is one of the films that to this day still has repercussions. It demonstrated the importance of setting the tone in horror movies, making the audience themselves feel as if they too were being stalked. Cunningham also was one of the few directors to introduce the idea of a possible female serial killer. Without this film, Scream's Randy would have never uttered those famous words, 'There are certain rules to surviving a horror movie..' This film combined with Carpenter's Halloween, firmly etched the rules in stone. The creepy music, the infamous "ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-ha", the crude photography and the graphic depiction of the murders of the counsellors all blend together to give a classic piece of film history. It scared the hell out of multitudes of teenagers who, in many instances could see themselves in the victims of the stalker. These weren't bad people getting killed, these were just your typical average American kids, having a good time, getting picked off. That is what makes this film so defining, that is why, for all its crude and harsh imagery, this is a classic. This is why alot of recent attempts at horror don't measure up. It's not the effects or the blood necessarily, it's the atmosphere and the familiarity that bring it home.It is more frightening to think, "That could be me"

(10/10)

 

Review "Superbad"

"Superbad"  (2007)

Two inseparable best friends navigate the last weeks of high school and are invited to a gigantic house party. Together with their nerdy friend, they spend a long day trying to score enough alcohol to supply the party and inebriate two girls in order to kick-start their sex lives before they go off to college. Their quest is complicated after one of them falls in with two inept cops who are determined to show him a good time.

I enjoyed "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," but didn't feel it was entirely worthy of all the enormous acclaim it garnered. And for all the praise "Knocked Up" received, I thought it was fairly average. So I wasn't expecting much from "Superbad." However, I'd have to say it's the smartest and funniest Apatow film yet. I know he didn't direct it, but his influence is distinct. And in the past I've felt indifferent towards Apatow's brand of humour, but combined with Rogen's sensitivity towards the teen condition here, it works really well. People have compared it to John Hughes' better teen comedies, but I don't think the approach is entirely similar. "Superbad" is cruder, ruder, a bit more focused on the sex & alcohol jokes. But it works really well because it captures that dynamic - better than "American Pie" because it invests more care into its characters. One of the strengths of "Pie" over other films in its genre (such as, say, "Slackers") has always been its characters, and "Superbad" similarly relies on its characters for support. Plus, it's just really funny. The performances all around are pretty funny, even if the Fogell/McLovin pop culture references are ruining a good joke (kind of like "Yeah, baby!!" ruined Austin Powers when 20-year-old frat boys around the country thought it would be funny to shout the phrase every five seconds). Jonah Hill and Michael Cera have great chemistry and another one of the strengths of this film is that its teenage characters actually do look their age (even though Hill is in his early 20s, he still passes as a senior). But it was Bill Hader and Seth Rogen who stole the show for me as the clueless cops. Overall this is just a funny, well-made film with heart. It doesn't mock its characters or their predicaments but casts a knowing eye on the high school experience. It captures all this very well and was certainly, in my opinion, far superior to "Knocked Up."

(8/10)

Review "Halloween"

"Halloween" (1978)

Possibly the most influential of all slasher films, John Carpenter's Halloween is the reason why this particular subgenre of horror even exists in the first place. Although it wasn't the first of its kind, it certainly was the game-changer for almost every other slasher flick that followed this low-budget indie horror only ended up imitating the formula that this classic originated.

Set in Haddonfield, Illinois, the story of Halloween begins on the titular night in 1963 where we witness the 6-years old Michael Myers stabbing his older sister to death with a kitchen knife. The plot then jumps 15 years in the span of which Myers remained silent in a mental hospital he was confined to, only to escape from the facility and returns to his hometown to kill some more.

Co-written & directed by John Carpenter, whose innate ability to churn out quality pictures from mere scraps of filmmaking elements has earned him a place amongst world cinema's most influential filmmakers, Halloween is one of the finest works of his career that presents the director in complete control of his craft, and the way he sets the pace & eerie tone from the beginning is a delight to watch.

Carpenter creates an uncanny mood during the title sequence only which has nothing but a jack-o-lantern on the black screen, accompanied by the now iconic score, and follows it up with an expertly shot prologue which instantly brings the audience into the story. The script is equally impressive for the character of Michael Myers is handled with extreme care, and the writers leave no stone unturned to show him as an unstoppable force of evil.

The technical aspects are skilfully executed, and every dollar of its low budget is efficiently used in service of the story. Setting the plot in a suburban location turns the very openness of the area into a playground of mayhem. Cinematography is inventive for the camera stalks our characters at all times, benefits from some ingenious placements, and is further uplifted by clever lighting while Editing makes sure that the suspenseful ambiance is kept alive from start to finish.

But the biggest contributor, in my opinion, is John Carpenter's minimal, synthesised score for it elevates the tension to a whole different level and greatly amplifies the desired effect of its disquieting camera-work & editing. Whenever its main theme surfaces on the screen, there's an uneasiness felt in those moments & whispers of an ominous presence dominate those sequences. It's one of Carpenter's most notable musical pieces & is a major reason behind this film's success.

Coming to the acting department, Halloween features a budget-friendly cast in Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis & Nick Castle. The film marks Curtis' acting debut and she does a neat job as Laurie; a high-school student who's continuously stalked by Myers throughout the movie. Pleasence is in as Myers' psychiatrist and the only person who knows what this homicidal maniac is capable of. And Soles & Loomis do a fine job as Laurie's friends who are also pursued by Myers.

But it's the character of Michael Myers and how he's portrayed in this film that establishes him as one of the greatest antagonists in cinema history. Using nothing but a cheap mask that conveys no emotions, keeping him mute throughout the story & giving him an almost mythic strength that renders him invincible, Carpenter presents Myers as a devil incarnate who kills without empathy, and intelligently uses his presence in the film to build a sinister aura, not to mention the very aspects of this character has gone on to inspire many more villains.

On an overall scale, Halloween remains one of the genre-defining films of the 1970s whose narrative structure has been adopted as a blueprint for slasher films ever since and its vast influence on cinema & pop culture cannot be downplayed. There were a couple of moments that bothered me but for the most part, this is a thrilling, entertaining & satisfying ride from Carpenter that is every bit worthy of its legendary status. A lesson in horror filmmaking that downplays the elements of gore & graphic violence to show the lasting effect a consistently maintained tense ambiance can have on the viewers, Halloween is the very definition of a slasher film.

(10/10)

 

Review "Ocean's Eight"

"Ocean's Eight" (2018)

Five years, eight months, 12 days and counting -- that's how long Debbie Ocean has been devising the biggest heist of her life. She knows what it's going to take -- a team of the best people in the field, starting with her partner-in-crime Lou Miller. Together, they recruit a crew of specialists, including jeweler Amita, street con Constance, suburban mom Tammy, hacker Nine Ball, and fashion designer Rose. Their target -- a necklace that's worth more than $150 million.

A spin-off of the popular 'OCEAN'S' heist comedy trilogy, revolving around the sister of Danny Ocean, Debbie Ocean, leading an all women crew in the robbery of the Met Gala. It stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and Sarah Paulson. The film was directed by Gary Ross, and written by Ross and Olivia Milch. It's received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it's also a hit at the Box Office as well (almost matching the debut weekend of the all female 'GHOST BUSTERS' reboot). I found it to be about as good as the other 'OCEAN'S' sequels, even a little better.

Debbie Ocean (Bullock) is a professional robber recently released from prison. She's also the estranged sister of veteran thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney in the other films), who recently passed away. Debbie has been plotting to rob the Met Gala, in New York City, and she'll need a team of thieves to help her do it. Her long time friend, and partner in crime, Lou (Blanchett), helps her find a crew.

The movie is well written and stylishly directed (I'm a fan of Gary Ross mostly). It's also well acted and quite funny at times. Like the other 'OCEAN'S' movies, it's a little slow-paced and light on character development though (except for the leads). Compared to the trilogy that inspired it though, the film does a more than adequate job of living up to them. I don't think it's quite as good as the original, but I'd say it's better than the first two sequels. A gem of a good time. Catch it!

(8/10)

Review "Beirut"

"Beirut" (2018)

Beirut is a drama thriller directed by Brad Anderson ("The Call", "The Machinist") and written by Oscar nominee Tony Gilroy ("Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", the "Bourne" movies, "Michael Clayton"). The titular Lebanese capital is the place where the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks killed 241 U.S. servicemembers deployed there as peacekeepers during the Lebanese Civil War. This movie takes place mainly during 1982, set in the broader context of Lebanon's multi-faceted political and religious conflicts and focused on a fictional but plausible story of intrigue, danger and violence.

Golden Globe winner Jon Hamm plays Mason Skiles, an American diplomat who suffered a very personal tragedy while living and working in Beirut in 1972, leading him to return to the U.S., become a specialist in conflict resolution (mainly local labor disputes) - and develop a serious drinking problem. Mason is contacted by an old acquaintance, on behalf of people who offer to pay him to come back to Beirut, ostensibly to give a lecture at the American University. Mason realizes that is just a cover story, but is unhappy with his current work environment and needs the money, so he reluctantly returns to Beirut.

Mason quickly finds himself in the company of State Department employees and C.I.A. operatives (played by Dean Norris, Shea Whigham and Larry Pine) who finally tell him the real reason he's back in Beirut. A co-worker of theirs, and an old friend of Mason's, by the name of Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino), has been kidnapped by terrorists to trade him for someone else - and one of the terrorists insists that they will only deal with Mason in person. As Mason applies his considerable negotiating skill and understanding of the conflicts he's navigating, it remains unclear who's working with whom and to what ends, but a C.I.A. field officer (Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike) does her best to protect and help him.

"Beirut" is a smart, entertaining multi-faceted film. It works well as a personal drama, a political thriller and a spy story. The setting and the historical context give the plot significant gravitas. Gilroy's script is very intelligent - in terms of the dialog and its ability to avoid predictability and genre clichés. Anderson's direction is well-paced and keeps the story engaging. The stars do their usual excellent work and the supporting actors more than pull their weight. A great break from the mundane.

(9.5/10)

Review "Overboard"

"Overboard" (2018)

Kate is a single, working-class mother of three who's hired to clean a luxury yacht that belongs to Leonardo -- a selfish, spoiled and wealthy Mexican playboy. After unjustly firing Kate, Leonardo falls off the boat and wakes up with no memory of who he is. To get payback, Kate shows up at the hospital and convinces the confused amnesiac that they're married. As Leonardo tries to get used to manual labor and his new family, Kate starts to wonder how long she can keep fooling her fake husband.What happens when you take a classic beloved comedy, switch the gender roles to jump on the P.C. bandwagon, give it to two unqualified directors with no experience in feature films, cast two actors with less chemistry than a frog and an old shoe, put the entire plot in the trailer, and then release it to theaters?

You get an entire world of people, especially fans of the original, wondering why the studio even bothered.

I have no problem with remakes as long as they're enjoyable, but this one isn't. Not even a little. If you're going to remake a film, have a reason for remaking it. Add something new to it. And switching gender roles isn't "new." Hasn't been for a long time.

This is a truly weak effort every step of the way, even from the normally enjoyable Farris who sleepwalks through every scene. Guess she had some extra time to kill between seasons of her sitcom Mom, or maybe she just needed the cash to supliment the millions she probably got from divorcing Chris Pratt. Whatever the reason, she needs to fire her agent.

Look, if you must see this, wait until it's on cable, but only if there's nothing else on the other 2,000 channels.

(4/10)

Review "Josie"

Review "Josie" (2018)

Right off the bat. A slow-burn that never really ignites. That said..

JOSIE's main character is a down-on-his-luck school security guard-without-a-uniform named Hank (Dylan McDermott) -- your basic quiet man with a dark past. Into his small existence in a Southern residential motel comes Josie (Sophie Turner), a pretty blonde teen on her own who moves in across from him. Both Hank and his teen-jerk nemesis, Marcus (Jack Kilmer), fall for Josie, who shows an interest in both of them. This is a noir-like thriller, so it's safe to say there's trouble ahead.

Unfortunately, not only is this crime drama's climax not sufficiently thought through, but Josie's entire gimmick is given away in the first act. Despite the presence of skilled actors like McDermott (LA to Vegas) and Turner (Game of Thronesthe more recent X-Men movies), Josie's characters aren't defined beyond types that are too-familiar within the noir genre: quiet man with a past; Lolita-esque jailbait/femme fatale. So while the actors have their moments -- Turner is especially good in a sequence in which she coolly tells a series of lies about herself -- we never get invested. Hank is a security guard with no uniform or authority. Marcus is a generically misbehaved punk. The climax is so riddled with logical holes that it generates more annoyance than interest.

Noir is a genre that keeps proving it still has plenty to offer, from the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple and Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat in the ‘80s to the more recent L.A. Confidential, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, No Country for Old Men, and many others. But in Josie, the exercise is too general, slow-moving, and lightly considered to involve viewers deeply or leave them with something to take home. 

(3/10)

Review "Game Night"

Review "Game Night" (2018)

"Where'd you find her? TED Talk?"

If you're game for a hilarious night at the movies, then see the black comedy Game Night. This romantic thriller is a mix of screwball comedy, Marx Brothers slapstick, and witty repartee you'll vow to go back for (about the handsomer brother: "He's like the Mark Wahlberg to Max's Donnie!") so you can catch at least half of the brilliant dialogue from the pen of writer Mark Perez.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) is a childless married couple who relax with friends playing highly competitive games like Scrabble and Charades. This night, however, with the return of his charming, successful brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), the game becomes fraught with sibling rivalry and violence that somehow never eclipses the humor. For the audience, determining what is just a game and what is real is the enjoyable endgame, and not easily solved.

The high-flying chases and quips remind me of Grant and Russell in their screwball days, throwing intellectual barbs while their lives are at stake (about a ditzy blonde guest: "Where'd you find her? TED Talk?"). Although Bateman has cornered the market on the clueless but still sharp middle class professional with the classic slow burn, McAdams is a discovery as a robust bright partner only a little clueless but plenty savvy. Her takeoff on Amanda Plummer with the diner hostages in Pulp Fiction is priceless.

Besides McAdams' surprise comedic chops, Jesse Plemons as the off- center, next-door cop Gary sheds his Matt Damon lookalike calling card and crafts a memorable role to prove his talent as a comic character. However, he's just another achiever in an ensemble overloaded with charm. Now and then a fine film comes in this dead-zone time of year: Game Night is that one, a promise of good films to come long after Oscar has gone to hibernation.

(10/10)

Review "Desperately Seeking Susan"

Review "Desperately Seeking Susan" (1985)

Roberta is bored and spends her time scanning the personal ads dreaming. When sees spots an ad saying "desperately seeking Susan" with a place and time she heads off to try and spot the people involved. She sees Susan meeting Jim and is taken by how free and fun she appears – taking the opportunity to buy her jacket for herself, only to find a key in it later. To return the key she places her own ad which Susan, Jim and several others take note of. Turning up in her new jacket, Roberta meets Jim's friend Dez who mistakes her for Susan shortly before she gets knocked unconscious. He looks after her unaware that Susan is being sought after by several different people for different reasons and that they are now incorrectly chasing Roberta.

A very eighties affair, this film is not as good as its reputation would suggest it is. The plot is far too convoluted and forced to really engage or to keep things light and fun and instead it gets bogged down in ideas, characters and plot threads. It has a bit of energy to it that has somewhat of a screwball air to it but with such a heavy plot it is hard for it to do much with it. It also feels very 1980's, not a bad thing in itself but it does mean that it hasn't dated well visually while Seidelman's direction is fairly ordinary and doesn't add much to it in terms of style.

The cast is fairly mixed but relies a bit too heavily on the star power of Madonna at the time. She actually plays second fiddle to the lead character played by Arquette, who is a bit vapid but does alright with the mixed identity chestnut. Madonna is pretty at ease in her character; she has no depth but that is not her fault and it is not really a problem in terms of the requirements of this film. Quinn is an appealing male lead; not a great deal for him to do dramatically but he works quite well with Arquette. The support cast is a really surprising mix as it contains plenty of well known faces in roles of all sizes; it is strange to see Metcalf, Joy, Patton, Wright, Turturro, Esposito, Hell and Argo all scattered over the film as if they were nobodies! Overall this is an OK film at best. It tries to create a real fun air but the convoluted plot makes it hard work to really get into it. The cast are interesting and the star power of Madonna must have helped at the time (and still I suppose) but mostly this doesn't really work and should probably be best watched as a bit of 1980's nostalgia.

(7.5/10)

Review "Frailty"

Review "Frailty" (2001)

A very promising directorial debut for Bill Paxton. A very dark thriller/who-really-done-it recommended by Stephen King. This is a strong, well-conceived horror tale about a devout, but demented man in Thurman, Texas that goes on a murdering spree after getting orders from God to eliminate demons trying to control mankind. A couple of plot twists and an eerie finale makes for your moneys worth. Most of the violence you don't really see, but still enough to double up your stomach.

Director (The late Bill Paxton) plays the twisted man to be known as the Hand of God Killer. Matthew McConaughey is equally impressive as the demented man's eldest son that ends up telling this story to a Dallas FBI Agent(Powers Boothe). Boothe, as always, is solid and flawless.  I had to see this gem twice to really appreciate all of it. When a widowed father of two interrupts his two sons' sleep with a shocking revelation, they are torn between believing him and not. As the horrifying events of this tale unfold, we learn a lot about the father, about his two sons, and about their destinies. With shocking twist after shocking twist, this film never allows for a lull in the plot. One of the very best Thrillers around. A must see.

(9/10)

Review "The Hurricane Heist"

Review "The Hurricane Heist" (2018)

At 4am this morning I watched this film. Let me tell you about it.

 

Casey (Maggie Grace) is an ATF Officer responsible for safeguarding millions of used dollars being scheduled for de-circulation and destruction. Will (Toby Kebbell) is a meteorologist specializing in storm data collection. The two are forced into an unlikely alliance when a covert band of high-tech mercenaries attack a federal reserve installation at the height of a deadly hurricane.

Director Rob Cohen (Stealth, The Mummy: The Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor), with co-writers Carlos Davis, Jeff Dixon, Anthony Fingleton and Scott Windhauser have a near-impossible task with Hurricane: To craft an enjoyable movie from a ridiculous plot, B-list actors and 2nd rate CGI effects. While the results may not be Oscar-worthy, those of you skilled in disconnecting your critical thinking bone from your funny bone will likely agree that Hurricane delivers in a surprisingly unexpected and exciting way.

Hurricane is not really special or unique in terms of its disaster-themed backdrop - you've seen this movie many times before a-la Twister (1996), Armageddon (1998), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), and 2012 (2009). Arguably, we enjoy disaster films because - what if? The dinosaurs did all perish cataclysmically, right? What Hurricane brings to the table is the depth of character and back-story required to believe its characters, and great skills by the actors involved to wear those characters like a pair of broken-in cowboy boots.

An opening scene solidifies the direction of the film: Done wrong, the film never recovers in the viewer's eyes. When an opener is done well, the viewer will forgive many mistakes and perhaps even enjoy the steaming stew slopped before him. Hurricane gives us a compelling and well-written opening with a young Will and his brother Breeze which works to establish our affinity for the siblings. Fast-forward to adulthood, and we're curious to see how the characters have evolved.

Villains are another important device in a movie's bag of tricks. Dumb villains make us laugh at the movie, while great villains make us admire their tenacity and ability to surprise us. While Hurricane cannot lay claim to Bond-level villainousness, it certainly knows how to throw in a twister or two.

If you're looking for an expansion of consciousness, don't hurry to the box office for Hurricane. If, however, you want a preview of this summer's popcorn blockbusters before the season hits, dig deep into your wallet for snacks and a good old-fashioned whopper of a good time at the movies. You just might be glad you did.

 

(8/10)

Review "Mom and Dad"

Review "Mom and Dad" 2018

A teenage girl and her little brother try to survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own children.

Written and directed by Brian Taylor (Crank and Crank: High Voltage), this nimble, kinetic, ultra-dark horror-comedy rampages through its gleefully wicked story without overwhelming its characters. Mom and Dad offers up another banshee-like, over-the-top performance from Cage (with whom Taylor worked on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), but this time it's rooted in a kind of real pain and regret. The same goes for the always-great Blair, as a mom whose motherhood didn't turn out the way she'd hoped. The movie uses crafty flashbacks to earlier times to illustrate and deepen the relationships between the family members.

But in the end, this is a breakneck-paced, out-of-left-field horror movie, and it doesn't hold back in the slightest on its brutal concept. It's not for viewers who don't have a high tolerance for shocking gore. Some will definitely think it crosses the line from time to time -- as when a new mother starts to squeeze the life from her newborn baby -- but mostly it stays in the realm of dark humor. It cheerfully brings meat hammers, wire hangers, and a Sawzall (a cordless reciprocating saw) into its relentless game, but it also occasionally holds back, just a little, for effect. Many darkly funny little surprises keep the movie revved up right until its final moments.

(8/10)

Review "Footloose"

Review "Footloose" (1984)

Moving in from Chicago, newcomer Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is in shock when he discovers the small Midwestern town he now calls home has made dancing and rock music illegal. As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things. With the help of his new friend, Willard Hewitt (Christopher Penn), and defiant teen Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), he might loosen up this conservative town. But Ariel's influential father, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), stands in the way.

Loosely based on events that took place in the tiny, rural farming community of Elmore City, Oklahoma... Herbert Ross's 'Footloose' is about a small town where rock-and-roll has been banned. You just can't dance over-there! Boy, It's a superb film... as a viewer, you're highly entertained!

'Footloose' is an expression, of how far would you go to make a dream come true. Dean Pitchford screenplay is engaging and Ross's direction is terrific. It has some memorable moments, especially when Bacon dances his guts out or even the penultimate portions that focus on John Lithgow. The soundtrack is foot-tapping, surely 1984 grooved on it!

Kevin Bacon is the soul of the film. 'Footloose' explores the dancer and actor inside him. Despite being a highly-talented personality... he has remained under-rated! Sad to know he doesn't have the fan-following that he truly deserves. A special mention to Lithgow, Lori Singer and Dianne Wiest for their flawless performances!

'Footloose' is a must watch. It's entertaining, foot-tapping and the now-veteran Bacon to keep you glued.

(9.5/10)

 

Review "The Social Network"

Review "The Social Network" (2010)

This is a film which simply shouldn't work, but it does - magnificently. A story centred on a teenager who becomes the world's youngest billionaire, a web site that reaches a million users in two years, and a cast of real life characters with names like Zuckerberg and Winklevoss just shouldn't be possible. A convoluted tale of raw conflict on the origins of a new type of web site should not lend itself to an expensive movie as opposed to a television documentary. It succeeds because it is not about the technology but about creativity and conflict and about friendship and betrayal. It succeeds because of a magical combination of accomplished direction, scintillating dialogue and superb acting.

The direction comes from David Fincher who has had variable success, all the way from "Alien 3" to Se7en", but here he is right on form with a flashy, but tightly structured, presentation that never fails to command your attention and interest. The all-important, sparkling script is courtesy of Aaron Sorkin who gave us "The West Wing" - the best television series ever - and yet apparently does not do social networking.

At the heart of the movie is a brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance from Jesse Eisenberg as the 19 year old Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, the genius behind "The Facebook" (the social network), the unsympathetic anti-hero of the adventure, a borderline sociopath variously described by women characters as "an asshole" and someone "just trying so hard to be" one. Andrew Garfield is excellent as Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate and co-founder of the site Eduardo Savarin; thanks to the wonders of CGI, Arnie Hammer manages to be terrific as both the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss; while singer Justin Timberlake is a revelation as the Napster founder Sean Parker. This is a testosterone-charged fable with room for women only in minor support roles - ironic in that getting girls was the impetus for the Facebook project.

The film opens in 2003 with a breathlessly wordy encounter and closes in 2009 with a poignantly wordless scene. In between, the story zips along at the frenetic pace characterized by the business itself. Adapted from Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Millionaires", the framework for the fascinating narrative is not one but two courtroom dramas or, to be more accurate, pre-trial hearings (both resulted in out-of-court settlements which tells you a lot). Clearly you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

(8/10)

Review "Juno"

Review "Juno" (2007)

Premise: Teenage girl gets pregnant and learns about life and relationships with her new "status." Significance: Anyone calling this a movie about teenage pregnancy has completely missed the point of the movie. The pregnancy is nothing more than a vehicle to provide an important contrast across several different relationships. Case in point: there is not one moment in the movie where Juno evaluates or considers her pregnancy. As such, those looking for a pro-life/pro-choice agenda in the movie will not find one -- because there isn't one.

Similarly, while the protagonist is clearly an intelligent, sharp-witted, and proactive, young female -- leaving some to believe this movie has a feminist agenda -- that is also not the case. This would not even be discussed if it were a male lead. Moreover, Juno by the end sees that she needs both her Dad and her best friend, Pauly. Most importantly, the career-driven adoptive mother's struggle is that despite her career success, her life is dominated by wanting to be a mom -- clearly not a feminist point.

Instead, the movie highlights that people and relationships are not always what they seem. Through the story, the heroine realizes that her best friend is someone she loves. She realizes that her quirky and off-beat Dad and step-mom, are actually "good" people. The adoptive parents have the biggest character change in the movie, with the soon-to-be Dad swinging from hip to shallow and selfish, while the soon-to-be-mom swings from cold to warm and loving.

Boiled down, this is a simple, feel-good, love story. The heroine realizes that her best friend, whom she has taken for granted, is someone she loves. Overlayed on this simple, heart-warming and timeless story (you realize you always had what you thought you were missing) is witty dialog and significant character development -- providing much more depth then the typical teen comedy -- like "Knocked-Up" or "Napoleon Dynamite". In fact, this is one of the best movies of the year and probably one of the best comedies to come in years.With this movie, Jason Reitman has established himself as one of the great young directors in Hollywood. Diablo Cody has also seen meteoric rise in her stock, although it will be interesting to see how she follows up with such immediate initial success. Every life probably has one good movie in it. And Ms. Cody apparently borrowed heavily from her own life in creating Juno. As such, her next endeavor will be crucial for determining if she is a "one-hit" wonder or one of the next great screenwriters.

(9/10)

Review "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"

Review "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975)

This is often considered to be one of the ultimate cult films. Whenever you go to any screening of the film you'll always find many people dressed in drag, singing the songs and of course dancing the time warp. Part of the reason for the films great success is that it's a parody of many of the things that are popular in culture. Everything from cheesy romances to gory horror is mashed together in this bizarre film of insanity that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

It all begins when our heroine and hero get caught with a flat (how bout that?) so they go in to a nearby mansion to use their phone. Little do they know that there are strange people to occupy that occupy that house with a night filled with monsters, aliens and Transylvania Transvestites to follow. The plot is silly, wacky and makes little sense, making it just right for all the absurdity that happens over the course of the night. Even when the laws of physics are broken, we just shove it off because in this weird world it actually makes sense.

But more importantly than that, this weird world allows for some of the best songs in musicals to come out of nowhere. Just like many of the classic musicals, there's never much reason for the music, with the simple act of someone entering a room being cause for a dance number. Certainty these songs are the most memorable moments in the film as well and the main reason that it has become such a cultural hit as each song has a unique style and catchy lyrics which mocks other musical styles in gorgeous fashion, ranging from an Elvis inspired Eddie to the stereotypical musical numbers in the time warp the songs are always original and entertaining.

Through this music the film successfully allows viewers to fully embrace the film, with entire audiences getting up to do the dances and sing the lyrics. The most memorable of these tends to be the time warp and sweet transvestite with every lyric in each being both memorable and hilarious. Beyond that, the time warp even tells you exactly what dance you should be doing, meaning there are no excuses for those who say they don't know the dance. Whilst the entire soundtrack is also incredible, these are definitely the leading songs that will get people singing along in any screening.Also I think the film chooses what is probably the perfect cast for their characters. Firstly you have Meatloaf, who whilst only has a short time on screen makes his impact in that time with his fast paced style and legendary singing voice to ensure that we remember his short time on screen.

Then there's Richard O'Brien (who is also the writer of the film) playing the handyman and is the lead voice in the now iconic time warp. It's a tough thing for anyone to do his song simply because it's tough for any other singer to match his voice with its ever changing style and impressive vocal range. Brad and Jaret are also perfect as the leads because of how typical they seem at the beginning of the film for a romantic couple. This makes their entry in to the world of insanity far more entertaining.

And most importantly lets not forget the legendary Tim Curry. Any moment Frank-N-Furter is on screen, you're damn sure that he dominates the show with his brilliant over the top style perfectly personifying the nature of such an insane character. Certainly if there is any character who anyone can instantly recognise from the film it is Furter. Everything about him makes him stand out amongst an already insane cast, with his ridiculous costume (becoming regular dress for fans) and even more ridiculous voice carrying the perfect tone for such a memorable character.

There's been some talk of doing a remake of this film in recent years, though personally I don't think that there should ever be another version. Sure, you can do different versions at the theatre, but this is the definitive version of the film simply because there is nothing that a new film version could add to it. This version carries with it all the charm and humour that no remake could ever recreate with this film standing alone as a unique film in the musical genre.

(10/10)

Review "The Commuter"

Review "The Commuter" (2018)

Insurance salesman Michael is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding, and he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the train.
This is Neeson at his best being Neeson. I really enjoyed this film in spite of It's similarities to other projects Liam Neeson has done. Its a interesting, fast paced story. There are two kinds of train movies. One where everyone sits around and talks about interesting stuff, and the other where everything gets completely messed up. This is the other kind and it's loads of fun. What you think you know is not necessarily so. Go see "The Commuter" you won't get "Taken".

(7/10)

Review "Call Me by Your Name"

Review "Call Me by Your Name" (2017)

Call Me By Your Name is the kind of movie that makes you sit through the credits with tears rolling down your face, staring blankly at the screen with a lump in your throat and tightness in your chest.

Call Me By Your Name is not a tragic movie. It's not a sad movie. It's not a pretentious movie. It's a movie about love, and love, and love. A beautiful love that will leave you longing to find your own love and drown in it.

Timothée Chalamet is an absolute force of nature. Elio will make you want to love, and hurt, and piece yourself back together with absolutely no regrets whatsoever. Elio will make you want to live your life to the fullest. Elio will make you want to break your own damn heart. It's so rare that a performance truly shows the depth of longing, and despair, and passion a character conveys through written words without the internal monologue. Timothée is truly a revelation and his last scene during the credits will have a lasting impact on everyone.

Armie Hammer is absolutely brilliant in the way he humanizes Oliver who is somewhat glorified through Elio's lens in the first part of the book. In the movie, Oliver is endearing and human and sexy and caring. He cares for Elio, and his love for him is so tender and so touching

Michael Stuhlbarg's monologue delivered nearing the end of the film is a complete masterpiece, and without a doubt that monologue with be taught and quoted for many years to come. A raw and beautiful scene.

Watch this movie. Watch it, and love it, and don't let it fall victim to over-hype. Watch this movie. Fall in love in two hours and twelve minutes, then question every single time you didn't allow yourself to feel just because you were afraid of getting hurt. Was avoiding a possible heartbreak that might have shattered you worth never getting a taste of the heavens? Was killing the potential pain and heartache worth it? Was it worth it?

(10/10)

Review "It" (The Original)

Review "IT" (The Original) 1990

First half good/ Second half bad
That's what most of the other commentators say, and I can't disagree. Part 1 (or the first half, depending on which format you're seeing it in) is great: pitting some excellent child actors (including future star Seth Green of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) portraying some in-depth characters fighting against a demonic clown. The second half seems more like a "gee-wow - look who we got" self-indulgence at casting Anderson, Thomas, Reid and Ritter, with very little to make us care about these folks. The ending is also an incredible dumbed-down letdown, although in all fairness I don't think they could pull off King's ending, and most of the audience wouldn't understand it if they had tried. There are a few touching moments in the last half, and Tim Curry couldn't screw up no matter how bad the writing is, but generally the two mismatched halves make for a mediocre film when it could have been so much more.

8/10

Review "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" (Oscar Edition)

Review "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" Oscar Edition.

Three Billboards is a dark but also funny and heart-felt story about one woman's quest to get justice for her daughter's rape and murder. After Mildred Haynes buys three billboards with words written on them accusing the town's well-liked sheriff of having not found her daughter's killer, it sets a series of events that turns the citizens and the cops against her.

The thing I can say about Three Billboards without going into spoilers is that it is wildly unpredictable. One moment you think things are going one direction as expected then it takes hard left turn that only adds to the dynamic between the characters. As the pressure within the town builds and anger is pointed towards Mildred, we see many of these characters evolve in order to deal with tragedy and grief and learn to find peace. And the movie goes through a roller-coaster of emotions. One moment you are laughing your butt off from the hilarious dialogue then you feel like someone just punched you in the gut. With every victory you think this story brings you feel like it was taken away from because of the world's unfairness and injustice. In lesser hands the mixture of dark and comedic tones would not work, but director and writer Martin McDonagh knows how to balance them to perfection.

The performances here just through the roof. Frances McDormand delivers a performance that will for sure get her into the Lead Actress awards race at the Oscars. As Mildred, McDormand just cuts loose with her performance with every line of hate, cynicism and cursing towards everyone she feels doesn't truly understand the internal pain she is going through. But McDormand does now and then show a soft side to Mildred. It shows that Mildred is just person like everyone who has her own way of dealing with the tragedy of loosing her own child. And Sam Rockwell also gives one of the best performances of his career as the flawed and very misguided cop Dixon. The character of Dixon is short-tempered, volatile, and not bright with some baggage of his own that the locals accuse him of. But Sam Rockwell brings his charm and sincerity to what could be a rather unlikable character. And in the latter half, you see Dixon go through a tremendous arc of learning to care about others rather then just being angry towards them. Other great performances that should be called out are Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawk and Caleb Landry Jones.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is easily one of the best movies this year and is worth seeing once it comes out in wide releases.

(9/10)

 

Review "Serial Mom"

Review "Serial Mom" (1994)

An uproariously witty satire on "petty" bourgeois American values, John Waters brings his own distinctive madness to the screen by focussing on cardboard cut-out caricatures of pop culture Americana.

Turning his outrageous gaze on an archetypally perfect housewife and mother from the Baltimore suburbs in Maryland, supportive to her loving husband and teenage kids and possessing a real tlent for cooking, it appears that she is everything a stable, hard-working business man could want. However, there is a slight catch. She is also a serial killer.

Mom's tendency to take bloody revenge on any poor neighbouring housewife who fails to observe her rigid socially acceptable guidelines, like not recycling rubbish or driving too fast, is so barmy you are sure to find it absurdly and darkly funny. Kathleen Turner, alternating between dizzy, unquestioning devotion to her family and clinically cool, yet psychotic anger to offending neighbours, either appears to possess a martyr's yellow halo above her head, denoting divine lightness and freshness, or a focussed smile as she carefully contemplates her next victim.

If you are on the lookout for some perfectly vibrant, yet malicious black comedy, subscribe to "Serial Mom", one of the most ruthless, patronising skits on good manners and nosey, voyeuristic neighbours ever to hit the screen. If you like Waters' latest irreverent venture into visceral, cutting black humour, then get all his other movies, because they are all even more extreme and grotesque - "Pink Flamingos", "Hairspray", "Cry Baby" - all kitschy, underrated classics in their own right.

 

(9/10)

Review "10 Cloverfield Lane"

Review "10 Cloverfield Lane" (2016)

The key to liking this film is to understand what you're watching. I did not go into this theater expecting a direct sequel to the original Cloverfield, just like I didn't watch Prometheus expecting an Alien prequel. You have to take it for what it is. When J.J. says that it's a "blood cousin" of Cloverfield, I interpreted that as meaning it's a part of a shared universe, or something along those lines; and that's really the best approach in my opinion to have.

One of the best things about this film is the trailer. It gives you nothing, and at the same time sucks you in. It sets up a mood instead of spoiling any scenes. During the trailer there is not dialogue, on the song "I think we're alone now" playing. It's the perfect song because it starts off on an upbeat; giving you sense of hope for a fun time, then the tone smoothly shifts in the opposite direction. In my opinion, the trailer is as well made as the film is.

What really made this film incredible for me was the tension it builds. The biggest key to that tension is John Goodman's portrayal of Howard. I spent the entire film trying to figure out "Is he insane; is he not insane; or is he a mixture of both?" I felt bad for him, and at the same time I feared him. His outbursts are almost immediately followed by a tender or quiet moment, which really screws with your mind.

Both Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. did amazing jobs as well. The chemistry between them is incredible, and because this film has very few characters in it, the character development is equally incredible. You don't quite know where they are going, but you do get an understanding of where they've been, and of what they've been through. Their characters are relatable, and because of that you fear along with them.

Thankfully there are very few jump scares. Instead, as I've mentioned above, they rely heavily on the fear of the unknown. The film let's your imagination wander, and when you think you may have started to figure something out they throw you a curve-ball and mess with your mind some more.

 

Go see this film with the understanding that it's NOT A DIRECT Sequel OF ANY KIND to Cloverfield. That needs to be completely out of anyone's head before seeing this because you will be disappointed. If you pay attention you can spot some connections.

I've seen it twice now and I loved every second of it both times. In my opinion it's not only a really fun film, it's also a very well made film.

 

(8/10)

Review "The Snowman"

Review "The Snowman" (2017)

The Snowman is a psychological thriller based upon Jo Nesbo's critically acclaimed novel of the same name. This film received mixed to negative critics but I have to disagree. Despite a few flaws, this film is overall above average in my book. Let's take a look at what several critics had to say and compare their points to my personal experience.

Many people complained that the movie didn't do the novel any justice and was missing several elements. I have to disagree because a movie can never be fully faithful to the original novel. That would also be quite unimaginative as you could simply stick to reading the novel if the movie had the very same characters, contents and dialogues. Overall, I think the movie portrayed the most important characters, events and locations and had a very appropriate length around two hours. If the movie had been longer, it would have overstayed its welcome and lost the audience's attention.

Several critics say that the movie has a confusing timeline and feels incoherent. This isn't the case at all. The movie starts with an obvious and important flashback that introduces us to the serial killer and why he has become such a monster. The only other flashback shows us a police officer and later on detective in Bergen who was investigating a case related to what would turn out to be the serial killer's crimes. The content of the flashback as well as the portrayed investigator are very important for the film and add some crucial depth to it. Aside of these two flashbacks, the film has a perfectly coherent chronological order with a strong exposition, an elaborate rising action, an intense climax, a gloomy falling action and a very short resolution that doesn't overstay its welcome.

I have read in many reviews that the potential of the actresses and actors isn't fully exploited. I have to disagree once more. Michael Fassbender was convincing as desperate police officer who was struggling with his alcohol addiction, his complicated family situation and the complex case. He performed this character with its credible flaws and strengths in a very authentic way. Rebecca Ferguson was just as convincing as young, energetic and dynamic officer with a mysterious hidden agenda. This actress also portrayed a credible character with amazing strengths and complex weaknesses. The supporting actresses and actors also did an excellent job from the pervert businessman to the disillusioned teenager. I would even go as far to say that this psychological thriller had some of the greatest acting performance and most interesting characters in recent memory.

Add a constantly gloomy atmosphere, stunning landscapes in and around Bergen and Oslo and twisted finale and you have a very well- made genre movie.

The only reasons why this movie didn't get an even better rating are the fact that the first third of the movie overstays its welcome and takes too much time to introduce characters and get the actual story started and that the story itself isn't the most original one and at times quite predictable if you are familiar with other genre movies and novels. Obviously, the source material has to be blamed for the latter downside and not the script.

That being said, The Snowman is an overall enjoyable thriller with a gloomy atmosphere, stunning landscapes and great acting performances. While it might not be among this year's greatest film, one should ignore overtly harsh and biased critics and give this movie a fair chance. Genre fans should at least appreciate it.

 

(7/10)

Review "The Female Brain"

Review "The Female Brain" (2017)

What makes a woman swipe right for Mr. Wrong and left for Mr. Right? This is a look at the real-life science behind our (often regrettable) romantic impulses. Writer-director Whitney Cummings (2 Broke Girls) stars as no-nonsense neuroscientist Julia, whose research into the biochemistry of the female brain is illustrated by three couples: newlyweds Zoe (Cecily Strong) and Greg (Blake Griffin), whose career troubles seep into their relationship; Lisa (Sofia Vergara) and Steven (Deon Cole), who are looking to spice up their stuck-in-a-rut marriage; and Lexi (Lucy Punch) who can't help trying to change her boyfriend Adam (James Marsden). Meanwhile, the straight-laced Julia's own synapses start to fire when a handsome new subject (Toby Kebbell) joins her study.

WOW! What a complete waste of time. This movie is billed as a comedy it is however a "How to" of Neurosurgery. I didn't even finish it. I always finish watching movies. To say it was disappointing is a huge understatement. My prognosis? Truly brainless, go see Game Night.

 

(2/10)

Review "Lady Bird"

Review "Lady Bird" (2017)

In a revival year for movies, one with an abundance of notable gems, Lady Bird manages to stand out in the crowd. While taking on the coming-of-age angle, which has been done to death for 30something years, direct Greta Gerwig makes this one different. She brings freshness to a stale genre by releasing a steady stream of humor, heart, and honesty.

Gerwig's first solo directorial effort features the winning young actress who is also quickly becoming a veteran actress Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, Atonement). Ronan shines, playing a Gerwig surrogate of sorts and showcasing a flawless Sacramento accent. Named Christine McPherson by her parents, she decides to instead go by the name Lady Bird. As she calls it, her given name (she gave it to herself). Mom (Laurie Metcalf) and Dad (Tracy Letts) are both perfectly cast joys to watch. Mom and Lady Bird flip a switch between sharing joyful moments to clashing in heated ones. Sweet and supportive dad does his best to help them both, even while fighting his own depression. Best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) is delightful to viewers and loyal to Lady Bird.

In her search for her identity, Lady Bird tests out a new best friend and an ill-fitting musician boyfriend (Timothee Chalamet). She lies about herself to both of them, pretends to live in the rich neighborhood, lies about her parents, trying to seem cool. Classic high school move, one of the cliché moments. The movie isn't entirely original, but what makes it so special is that everything feels authentic, never crammed in to fit a template. The characters and problems could have come across as stale and vacuous, but they contain real depth and honesty, so they're always compelling.

Lady Bird meets another boyfriend, Danny (Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea), while rehearsing for the school play. He resists the temptation of sex with her, "out of respect." Their relationship comes to an abrupt end but not before he describes Lady Bird's mom as "warm and scary." While Lady Bird scoffs at this descriptor at the time, she later recognizes the truth in it. She spends so much effort preventing people from seeing her family for who they really are that she never truly sees them herself. There's something in this movie for everyone. We may not all be now, nor have ever been a pink-haired teenage girl in Sacramento, but we all know what it's like to feel unsure about who we are and who we want to be. Lady Bird covers familiar experiences, but not only the pleasant ones. It's not an "aww" fest. Gerwig's directs the way Lady Bird's mom parentswith toughness and care. She explores the humor and hurt with equal deft. Her movie is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you think. Gerwig delivers a story extremely personal to her in a way that makes it feel personal to all of us. Lady Bird is a wonderous success and truly one of the year's best movies.

(9/10)

Review "Clerks"

Retro-Review "Clerks" (1994)

Kevin Smith has delved into action ("Mallrats"), drama ("Chasing Amy") and philosophy ("Dogma") in his Askewniverse, but Clerks, the first film of the series, is still the best.

Shot on a ridiculously low budget, using mostly friends and relatives as the cast and crew (see the line in the credits where "Boom" is credited as "whoever happened to be holding the pole"), "Clerks" is such a great film just because it doesn't try to be more than it is. You get the sense that this movie is in black and white not to be pretentious, but just because it's a prosaic look at prosaic lives.

Kevin Smith's real gift is writing funny, witty dialogue, and that's what carries this film. From Star Wars debates (did the destruction of the second Death Star in "Jedi" cost innocent contractors their lives?) to perfectly serious debates about sex ("Thirty-seven???"), this is the ultimate movie for anyone who's ever been going nowhere and doing nothing. It's a day in the life of the guy working at the corner store, no more, no less. But it's absolutely brilliant.

People either love or hate Kevin Smith movies. Chances are, if you can appreciate the humor of low-brow jokes about pornography as high art, then you'll enjoy "Clerks". His brand of humor isn't for everyone. This is his first film and it's flawed, to be sure. But in my humble opinion, it's still Smith's best.

(8/10)

 

Review "Now You See Me"

Review "Now You See Me" (2013)

Charismatic magician Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) leads a team of talented illusionists called the Four Horsemen. Atlas and his comrades mesmerize audiences with a pair of amazing magic shows that drain the bank accounts of the corrupt and funnel the money to audience members. A federal agent (Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol detective (Mélanie Laurent) intend to rein in the Horsemen before their next caper, and they turn to Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), a famous debunker, for help.

When it comes to summer movies, this is about as good as it gets. We got to the movies to be entertained and lose ourselves for 2 hours for a price of an admission ticket. I can say without flinching that this was totally worth it.

The film was so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be from watching the trailers. It has a lot of wit, clever plot, suspense, magic, humor, twists, and action. It has something for everybody. The acting was great overall and I really liked the characters. In my mind 3 people stuck out. Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Woody Harrelson. They were great.

Overall I was surprised at how good the story was. Sure it won't win any Oscars but it takes a road at the end that nobody would see coming. It makes you want to go back and see it twice to understand it better, and just like all magic tricks, some of it can't be explained and you are left with no answer but to believe that what you saw was true. And to me that's fun

(8/10)

Review "Blame It on Rio"

Review "Blame It on Rio" (1984)

Two friends who work for the same Brazilian company, Matthew (Michael Caine) and Victor (Joseph Bologna) decide to take a vacation together without their wives, since both men are having marital difficulties. Each brings his teenage daughter along, and there is trouble when Matthew begins an affair with Victor's daughter, Jennifer (Michelle Johnson). As Victor catches wind of the fling, Matthew tries to keep his involvement a secret, leading to plenty of uncomfortable situations.

This is a fun light-hearted comedy, with magnificent views of Brazil and subtle comic performances. It captures that early eighties feel well. And broaches the subject of a teenage temptress more honestly than the recent version of Lolita.

I can only think that this movie was out of time. probably from a gentler age, but it still hits the mark with me, even watching it now.

One of my absolute favorites. Had a huge crush on Michael Caine. Magic for a 16 year old girl.

 

(10/10)

Review "Jackie"

Review "Jackie" (2016)

 

After her husband's assassination, Jackie Kennedy's (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course of the next week she must confront the unimaginable: consoling their two young children, vacating the home she painstakingly restored, and planning her husband's funeral. Jackie quickly realizes that the next seven days will determine how history will define her husband's legacy - and how she herself will be remembered.

 

THIS IS AN ADULT MOVIE. It borders on tedium. It's raw, it's brutal, and often disturbing. But this shining moment in Camelot belongs solely to Natalie Portman. I have followed her career with great anticipation, from her auspicious opener as a precocious 14-year old in "The Professional" with Jean Reno, to a memorable performance as the young heroine in "V for Vendetta." But it seems that her later performances became frustratingly "spotty," culminating in her shockingly amateurish star turn in "Star Wars," with an equally bad Hayden Christensen. It seemed that Portman did not live up to the early potential of her blazing childhood debut. But in this biopic, she hit a home run with the bases loaded, in the bottom of the ninth. She was flat-out amazing. She didn't merely PLAY the role, she INHABITED IT. Many actors have tackled the role of this enduring American icon—many with a stronger physical similarity—but she owned the part, all of her past work leading to this singular performance. Kudos to a brief but brilliant John Hurt as the unnamed priest, and honorable mention to the Director of Photography's stark and bare camera work, managing to capture the incredible loneliness of a woman in utter disarray.

 

(8/10)

Review "Lovelace"

Review "Lovelace" (2013)

After the release of "Deep Throat" in 1972, porn star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) becomes an international sensation and spokeswoman for sexual freedom and hedonism; six years later, she presents a darker side to her story.

In LOVELACE, San Francisco-based filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman deliver a sympathetic portrayal of Linda Lovelace, asserting her innocence and good intentions. (It's based on her own 1980 biography, Ordeal.) But as far as biopics go, it's not great. It shies away from too much intense material, and it would have felt skimpy if not for the structure invented by screenwriter Andy Bellin. The first half of the movie is the typical rags-to-riches part, and the second half goes back to reveal the horrors going on behind the scenes.

This device has the effect of deepening the story and stripping away the façade. Seyfried is the perfect actress to play Linda; she's both charismatic and sexy but also squeaky clean -- she brings her own layers to the part. The rest of the cast is peopled with excellent character actors, but the real surprise is Sharon Stone as Linda's tormented mother, who realizes that her strictness did nothing to prevent Linda's fate and may, indeed, have contributed to it.

Well worth seeing/renting.

(8/10)

Review "Clerks II"

Review "Clerks II" (2006)

 

I was a fan of the original Clerks when I first saw it a few years back, although I was sceptical when I found out that Kevin Smith was to make a belated sequel to it. However, it turns out that I had nothing to fear - as Clerks II is an extremely entertaining little film that works for all the same reasons as the original Clerks did. Kevin Smith has recruited all the stars that made the original film so much fun, and despite this being twelve years on, they all take up their old roles with gusto and this helps to ensure that Clerks II has a great energy that blends well with Kevin Smith's offbeat yet strangely insightful writing style. The basic plot is that Dante, the star of the original film, has decided to move out of Jersey with his girlfriend, much to the dismay of his friend Randall. Dante and Randall are now working at a burger bar after their shop burns down. It's Dante's last day before he goes away to get married and his friends aren't going to let him leave without a send-off - and a certain someone also has him distracted.

As you would expect, Clerks II is extremely childish at times; but it's usually funny, and Kevin Smith also manages to implement several scenes of brilliance that manage to be funny at the same time as making a point; the whole 'porch monkey' sequence being a major highlight. The actors in this film are not the best you're ever likely to encounter, but it's not important as they all perform well and Smith's dialogue is always enough of a distraction anyway. The film is definitely aimed more at fans of the original than the general public, but this is only another feather in its cap if you ask me. Smith made this film for his fans. Aside from the silly humour, there is a really good little story here and it's all the better for the fact that you can actually care for the characters. Randall's speech at the end is actually one of the most rousing that I've seen in a film, and while that may just mean that I constantly watch the wrong films, it's a good speech and will appeal to slackers like myself. Overall, Clerks II is a good film in its own right and a must see for fans of the original.

 

(8/10)

 

Review "The People vs Larry Flynt"

Review "The People vs Larry Flynt"

 

Idealized biography of Hustler magazine mogul Larry Flynt (played superbly by Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson) which finally ends up focusing on his legal battles to publish his pornography via the free speech laws of this land. Along the way he marries a bisexual wild woman (Courtney Love) who shares his unconventional views on free love, priced pornography and drug abuse. The character also survives an assassin's bullet, paralysis, imprisonment, endless court battles against the Reverend Jerry Falwell and even his own destructive nature. Edward Norton (a relative newcomer when this was released) shines as Harrelson's young attorney who tries to overlook and overcome his client's tirades. Director Milos Forman (Oscar-nominated) does a good job creating a cinematic story about a man who is hard for most in mainstream society to understand or relate to. Flynt is humanized and so are those who cross his path throughout the picture. The movie is not as wild and crazed as one would think. Instead Forman uses well-timed comedy with drama to get the major points across effectively. Overall one of the better films of 1996.

 

(9.5/10)

Review "Dangerous Liaisons"

Review "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988)

 

Continuing his incredibly diverse career, Stephen Frears made his first period piece (a genre he would return to several times) with Dangerous Liaisons, working from a script by Christopher Hampton adapted from his own play which was itself adapted from Choderlos de Laclos' novel. Set in France in the late 1700s, Liaisons is a delightfully wicked tale of the games of sex and power played by the upper-class. Glenn Close portrays the Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil, who recruits her ex-lover and notorious seducer Vicomte Sebastien de Valmont (John Malkovich) to get a little revenge by seducing the young Cecile de Volanges (Uma Thurman). But first, Valmont has another conquest on his mind, in the form of the married and well-mannered Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer).

The two of them embark on a twisty labyrinth of power moves and sexual conquests, destroying anyone who comes in their path before ultimately realizing that their true battle is with one another. Liaisons strikes a potent balance of comedy and drama, with plenty of incredible sharp and humorous scenes to go along with the extraordinarily emotional ones. Frears keeps the whole thing moving fluidly and is able to do very well at combining the many different aspects of it's tone. There's a modern quality to the writing that never falls into the stuffy banality that can often hinder films set in this time period; instead it all feels alive and exciting.

You can tell that Malkovich was having a ball with this character and his charisma is infectious, driving the whole picture with a kind of charm and energy that makes the time fly by. He isn't a particularly handsome man, but somehow he is able to exude this sexual charge that makes it easy to see how the man is so capable of bringing women to their knees around him, and he's matched by the icy power of Close's Merteuil.

 

This is Glenn Close doing what she does best, a performance built from the inside out, where the further we go along the more the layers start to unfold. Merteuil is one of the best characters of her long and illustrious career, a woman obsessed with having all of the cards, sworn to herself to conquer and never be conquered. She creates a character mysterious and fascinating, drawing you in but never quite revealing her true self and always leaving you guessing.

The contrast for her is Tourvel, played by Pfeiffer with such an honest sincerity, wearing her emotions firmly on her sleeve for the entire picture. Unlike Merteuil, with Tourvel you know exactly how she is feeling at all times and Pfeiffer excels at the emotional anguish the game between Valmont and Merteuil puts her through. After a delightful the first act, the film gets a little long-winded in the middle, but it's all more than worth it when it comes around to it's grand finale. The battle of sex and power between these two lovers comes to a head and the final result is explosive, dramatic and painfully realized. It's operatic in more ways than one.

I loved how the film opened and closed on shots of Merteuil. In the opening frame we see her in full makeup, completely in her disguise as the composed and detached woman she wants everyone to see her as. In the final shot though, she has been ravaged by this personal war and as she removes her makeup we finally see Merteuil for who she really is, a pitiful and broken woman who is forever alone. It's a powerhouse performance by Close in a very impressive film.

 

(10/10)

 

Review "One Hour Photo"

Review "One Hour Photo" (2002)

 

One Hour Photo is a film of supreme caliber. The film is powered by the haunting, chilling, silencing, and above all-genius performance by Robin Williams. But the rather extraordinary thing is that it is not Robin Williams on the screen, it's Sy Parish (the character's name). Robin Williams fades away from our senses and slips into the ever so sweet and innocent yet psychotic role of a supermarket's photo developer. The films script is only accented by Williams, at times, restrained performance. Williams ignites on the screen and burns till the last frame, and you are unable to take your eyes off him. As I mentioned the film is subliminily written as well as directed. Though being Romanek's first, I certainly don't think this is a bad start. Romanek's direction adds to the on-going tension throughout the film. More affecting is Williams' delightful calmness. Trying to hold himself in becomes more troublesome for both Williams and his character as the story develops. Yet through the calm eyes of an innocent blaze the fires of hatred and intensity, which could very well sum up Williams' performance. The film does have some disturbing images as well. Yet they are not really strong enough for you to get up from your seat and leave yet rather the opposite. Williams' contribution as well as guidance towards the actions and scenes of peril compell as well as amaze you towards both the performance and film itself. Williams' shocking contribution to the screen is enough to make you cry, scream, and yell in your seat.  It's as if watching our own funny and beloved Robin fail us. Though the truth could not be any further, Williams but succeeds in the art of acting, creating an achievement in the field. Creating a landmark. Writing his/its own chapter. I guarantee that this film will be required study material in acting classes for now on. In conclusion: definitely one of the best thrillers out there. I'll be sleeping with the lights on. Quite possibly the performance of Williams' career.

 

(9/10)

 

 

Review "How to lose a guy in 10 days"

My Valentines Day Review "How to lose a guy in 10 days"

 

This movie is very very funny. Period. I think that when you walk into a movie you have to walk-in with the correct expectations. If you want a scary movie, you should expect to be scared. If you want a drama, you should expect to be touched. If you want a comedy, you should expect to laugh. Whenever you read a comment on the movie from a critic that is negative, the reason is they are crtiqueing it for something it is not. Just go to this movie and you will laugh, I did for almost an hour straight. It is a good time, relax. If you are a guy, even though it is a chick flick, you will enjoy this. The movie is a parody of sorts because it portrays the way that girls treat guys sometimes. If you are a girl, well, you will like it too, because it is a chick flick. I saw Kate Hudson in Four Feathers and was not at all impressed with her, or the movie, so when I came to see this my expectations were not that high. Folks, both she and Mathew McConaghey were great. M. McConaghey has really mastered that masculine and funny dialogue much like Luke Wilson or Ben Stiller. Sure the movie is predictable in parts, and it does follow the typical romantic film recipe towards the end, but who cares. We don't go to movies to pick them apart. A movie theatre is not a classroom. Go. Relax. Enjoy. You will enjoy yourself.

 

(7/10)

Review "The Addams Family"

Review "The Addams Family" (1991)

 

The Addams Family are one of the more recognisable families in TV history. With that in mind, let's skip the introductions and get straight to the chase.

The performances in this movie are superb. It's a black, black comedy, and as such, it requires a certain kind of actor. The kind who has the right look, the perfect comedic timing, and the ability to deliver lines so deadpan it almost hurts.

Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and a young Christina Ricci somehow ALL manage to deliver. They're truly a delight to watch, delivering the most macabre lines without even coming close to cracking a smile, yet having me in stitches every time. Even Christopher Lloyd, playing a far more energetic character, manages to bring in a maniacal edge to the performance. I don't think there's an actor in the movie who doesn't understand the role they play.

The script is great material for them to work with too, extremely witty, rarely if ever falling on it's face, and complemented with some fantastic sets. And let's not forget the music. From the legendary theme tune, to the harpsichord jingles accompanying the visual gags, to the booming organs during the heavier moments, it's spot-on. The whole movie works as one to capture *THE* Addams atmosphere, macabre as it's ever been.

Sure, there's a plot too, but while it drives the movie on, you'd watch this movie for the wonderful theme, not for an intriguing plotline.

It's a classic, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you haven't seen it, or if you think you're too sensible for this kind of movie.

 

(10/10)

Review "Munich"

Review "Munich" (2005)

 

Steven Spielberg’s tough and tangy political thriller “Munich” unfolds in a fog of amorality, a cold-blooded murk where murderers and assassins nest like reptiles, skulking into daylight for deeds of spectacular nastiness. “Inspired” by real events, it captures the taut plotting, byzantine intrigue and textured character studies of the best thrillers from the 1970s — “The French Connection,” “All the President’s Men” and “Serpico” spring to mind — as it roots through old political issues that rage on today.

 

There are no small historical events for Spielberg’s ravenous ambitions. With spotty judgment, he’s grappled with the Holocaust, the American slave trade and World War II. He is working on an Abraham Lincoln film.

“Munich,” adapted from George Jonas’ book “Vengeance,” follows a quintet of Israeli secret agents as they hopscotch Europe assassinating, one by one, the organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics disaster, in which the Palestinian terrorist group Black September kidnapped and killed 11 Israeli athletes. It perhaps lacks the gut-punch of larger history-book moments, yet, as a character says, “What happened in Munich changes everything.”

 

Spielberg could have soft-pedaled this strange chapter in the Middle East’s stormy saga. But for once the dewy optimist seems undaunted by historical heft and not obliged to remove his hat and bow to the specious majesty of actual events.

 

The school-boy nobility Spielberg so often accords his characters gives way to a morally complex, question-posing fuzziness. The drama initially pounds forth at a clip that deflects moral and political discussion, but ambiguity starts seeping in. As the assassins pick off their quarry in a series of rippingly staged action climaxes, the hard ideological ground — i.e., Israel’s implacable stance, demanding an eye-for-an-eye —cracks and shifts.

 

Our point man through the film’s welter of political intrigue, basement bomb-making and sleazy payoffs is Avner (Eric Bana, supremely poised and charismatic), a young bodyguard tapped by Israeli prime minister Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen) to lead a motley gang of hitmen.

Played by a faultless ensemble, including a fierce Daniel Craig (the  blond James Bond), the group comes off as a dynamic band of character actors, defined not only by their discrete expertise in death but vivid, human personalities the actors etch with swift, precision strokes. Films made in the New Hollywood of the ’70s lived or died by acting like this.

 

As does “Munich,” which brims with nimble performances. Geoffrey Rush, always a delightful spectacle, exudes an amusing prickly authority as Avner’s case officer, and Michael Lonsdale and Mathieu Amalric are fascinatingly shady as the Paris-based, father-son fences for the Mossad, the Israel intelligence agency.

 

Screenwriters Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) and Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”) hew a sharp character study amid the explosions, foot chases and explicit carnage. Avner straddles the bloodthirsty monomania certain strains of nationalism incite and the personal obligations of a beautiful wife and infant daughter. Like a blooming rose, livid and thorny, his conscience opens as the corpses mount and he mulls the legality and morality of his task. He’s a tragic figure, Avner is told, because he has a “butcher’s hands and a gentle soul.” He wonders what “home” and loyalty really mean, and that, at heart, is the film’s unresolved question and prevailing theme.

 

Heavy as it is, “Munich” is also a dazzling and witty action picture. Spielberg’s instinct for surgically staged set pieces gets a workout. An unmistakable snap and efficiency marks the scenes, as well as a sense of frightening fun. They swing.

 

Beyond the period sideburns and ghastly polyester, “Munich” looks like it was made in 1973. Spielberg and longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski have given the film the tawny, faded, grainy look of gritty ’70s thrillers. This is fitting given the narrative and moral sophistication of “Munich,” which harks back to bolder days of American film. That was when movies could unpack messy ideas without pat answers, riveting audiences all the way. People on both sides of the aisle — pro-Israel, pro-Palestine — have been arguing on which side “Munich” perches. No clear response has emerged, a sign the movie’s done something right.

 

(10/10)

 

Review "The Last Jedi"

Review "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017)

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the middle chapter of Lucasfilm’s latest trilogy set within the Star Wars universe, though this is the first trilogy since Disney acquired the studio – and the first without original creator George Lucas at the creative helm. Instead, writer/director Rian Johnson takes the reins from J.J. Abrams, who kicked off this new installment of the Skywalker Saga in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi is tasked with continuing the story of The Force Awakens‘ heroes, and bridging the gap to the concluding installment, Star Wars: Episode IX. Star Wars: The Last Jedi builds upon Star Wars history for a more expansive, high-stakes adventure with plenty of fresh – and classic – elements.

The Last Jedi returns to a galaxy far, far away where, though the Resistance was able to take out the First Order’s Starkiller Base, the rebels must flee their own base in order to survive. In an effort to restore hope to the dwindling Resistance forces, the young, Force-sensitive hero Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeks out Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While Rey needs a master Jedi to teach her in the ways of the Force, she also attempts to convince the legendary Jedi to return to the fight. However, it becomes apparent that after Rey’s showdown with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) on Starkiller Base, their fates are intertwined, especially in regards to their allegiances to either the Dark Side or the Light.

 

Unfortunately, The Last Jedi doesn’t use the entirety of its cast to their best advantages, and a number of characters feel short-changed for the sake of not overstuffing what’s already a two and a half hour movie. The Last Jedi is undoubtedly the most ambitious Star Wars movie in terms of scope, cast, and sheer length, but the different storylines – while linked thematically – can feel disjointed at times. Still, The Last Jedi is tightly woven, with a breakneck pacing that helps to propel viewers forward. Plus, with characters and a rebellion to which viewers are already attached, and The Last Jedi setting up major stakes, it’s easy to remain invested even when jumping from one corner of the galaxy to another.

All in all, there is plenty that does work in The Last Jedi. Johnson has helped usher this latest Star Wars trilogy into new territory that not only brings plenty of fresh ideas to the table, but honors the original movies as well. And the writer-director has done so with such breathtaking visuals and a deft hand that it’s not hard to see why Lucasfilm would give him his own Star Wars trilogy. Johnson has not only met what were undeniably high expectations with his installment in one of the biggest movie franchises in history, he’s exceeded them. As The Force Awakens proved with its success in 2015, Star Wars is a massively beloved franchise, and The Last Jedi elevates what was already a storied sci-fi/fantasy saga – and sets expectations even impossibly higher for Abrams’ return to the trilogy with Episode IX.

 

(8/10)

Review "Daddy's Home 2"

Review "Daddy's Home 2" (2017)

 

A sequel to the 2015 hit comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, as two rival fathers competing for the same children's love. In this follow-up they're now friends, and they have to deal with their own fathers visiting for the holidays, who are also complete opposites as well of course. Mel Gibson and John Lithgow join the cast, as the elder dads, while Linda Cardellini and John Cena also reprise their roles from the original movie. The film was once again directed by Sean Anders, and it was written by Anders and John Morris (the same duo also co-wrote the original, as well as 'HOT TUB TIME MACHINE', 'SEX DRIVE', 'SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE', 'WE'RE THE MILLERS', 'HORRIBLE BOSSES 2', and other hit comedies). This film has received nearly unanimous negative reviews from critics, but it's done really well at the Box Office (and with viewers there). I thought it was pretty funny too actually.

Brad and Dusty (Ferrell and Wahlberg) now get along perfectly, and our doing a really effective job co-parenting their kids together. Then both of their fathers, Kurt (Gibson) and Don (Lithgow), decide to visit them for the holidays. Kurt is extremely egotistical, obsessively masculine, and a bit of a sexist asshole. Don is really sweet, kind and friendly. More family drama occurs because of their visit, which causes conflict between Brad and Dusty again as well. Especially when Brad invites the biological father (Cena) of Dusty's stepdaughter over.

The movie is frequently very funny. It definitely has some bad jokes in it too, and it's a pretty routine family Christmas comedy, but it's still mostly funny. Adding Gibson to the cast, as the womanizing chauvinistic pig, was brilliant casting in my opinion as well, and he's hilarious in the role. Lithgow is also good in his part too, and Ferrell and Wahlberg are both effective once again too. I actually enjoyed this sequel more than it's predecessor; it seems more packed with quality humor to me, at least in my opinion. It's also more fun that it's set at Christmas (in my opinion as well).

 

(7/10)

Review "Goodfellas"

Review "Goodfellas" (1990)

 

"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." -- Henry Hill, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1955.

Gangsters are all around us. Everyone knows it, not everyone wants to accept it. "Goodfellas"--based on true events--explores the lives of gangsters, chronicling the events through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who gets involved with the Mafia at a young age and continues his "career" throughout the film.

As he gets older, he marries and has children, but still works for the organized crime family, under mob boss Paulie (Paul Sorvino); and he is friends with Jimmy (Robert De Niro), a calm, steady gangster; and Tommy (Joe Pesci), a wild man with serious mental problems.

Eventually Henry's life goes down the gutter, leading to drug abuse and paranoia, that leads to other unfortunate incidents that will be ruined if I type any more about them.

"Goodfellas" is one of the best films I have ever seen. It's a tour de force of breathtaking images, witty scriptwriting, superb acting and realistic violence.

Robert De Niro gives one of his best performances -- ever -- as Jimmy, even if he's not in the film as much as you might be lead to believe from the front cover.

Joe Pesci is in this movie about as much as De Niro, maybe a bit more or less. But when he's on screen there's no doubting he's on screen--he's very hard to miss. A short, deranged, loud-mouthed man with something wrong in his head. Someone makes an insult toward him and he shoots them, and then laughs. It's quite disturbing. I am a huge fan of Pesci, and I tend to love his characters, but he really makes you feel sick towards his character in "Goodfellas," while at the same time taking a strange liking to him. That just goes to show how good of an actor Pesci is.

 

Ray Liotta is perfect as Henry Hill. I can't think of a better actor to play him. He captures a sense of innocence yet at the same time a feeling of violence. I love the scene where he walks over to a man's house with a regular expression on his face. "What do you want, f&*^&?" the man asks. Liotta continues walking, takes out a gun, and starts to continually beat the man in the skull with the butt of his gun. As Henry walks back to his car, his face is disturbing and his expression stays with you for a long, long time.

Martin Scorsese is a brilliant director and his work here is fabulous; it's been recreated by other directors (namely Paul Thomas Anderson in "Boogie Nights") and there's a reason: it's great stuff. He totally deserved to receive Best Director in 1990, but of course he didn't. (Rumor has it the Academy frowns on Scorsese's use of racial slurs in his work. Oh boo hoo, get over it.)

The movie is based on the true-crime memoirs of the real-life Henry Hill, whose novel with Nicholas Pileggi -- "Wiseguys" -- was adapted into a screenplay by Pileggi and Scorsese. The book itself was fantastic and insightful; the screenplay is even better. The dialogue is incredible.

Anyway, "Goodfellas" has to be one of the best films I've ever seen--a true modern classic that will be remembered for what it is: One of the greatest tales told on screen. It's an offer you can't refuse!

 

(10/10)

Review "Milk"

Review "Milk" (2008)

 

Let's get one thing out of the way. Is it entertaining? And how! Sean Penn's best performance to date – Oscar quality; Emile Hirsch riotously perfect ; James Franco heartbreaking; Diego Luna, devastating; Josh Brolin, flawless. Not one false note in any of the actors – a very complicated story unfolds with absolute clarity. I will be seeing this one again just for the screenplay. I was very gratified that no attempt is made to be "delicate" about Harvey Milk's personality, either his sex life or his out-sized ego, which perhaps ironically for some, makes him all the more heroic. The finest "political" film I think I've ever seen. It does more than dramatize a strong true story, it captures convincingly the truth about a whole political movement. (One that's as freshly active as today's headlines: Prop 6 or Prop 8 — does it ever end?) There is an ease and familiarity to the "scene" — to the historical period and place — with very few, small anachronisms, as far as I could tell. This is also the most assured work of Gus Van Sant, a genuine film artist, who here delivers a complete drama with real visual style and brazen wit. The blending of documentary footage is the most seamless I can remember seeing anywhere. The crowd scenes are remarkable, and all of the location shooting miraculously right. For a couple of fast, fast hours, I felt as though I had spent a couple of days — hilarious, intense, inspiring days — immersed in 1970s San Francisco. This movie does what all movies should do. See it.
 
(9/10)

 

 

 

Review "Steal This Movie"

Review "Steal This Movie" (2000)

 

"Steal This Movie" charts the rise and fall of Abbie Hoffman -- activist, radical, fugitive, lover -- and leads us through the maze of music, politics and personal struggle of the late sixties and seventies. Abbie's story reflects a culture that abandoned comfort for freedom, money for passion, complacency for instinct. He recognized an enlightened breed of renegade soldiers in this hippie generation. They were young, bold, defiant, reactive.

I truly love this movie. It teaches a younger generation about a time, not too long ago, when people were able to give up everything because of a cause. It is inspiring and I recommended this to all who are a fan of history and will be entertained by an interesting life. Vincent D'Onofrio is a very talented actor and if you only know him from Law & Order, you may be surprised by his role in this movie. He brings a sense of innocence and humor to the role of Abbie Hoffman that allows the uninitiated to develop compassion for a great leader and complicated man. I felt that having watched this movie I have learned a lot. How the government behaved towards all progressive movements during the 60s and 70s. How an individual can come "undone", even while trying to bring about social change and that it is important to speak out against injustice no matter the cost.

 

(9/10)

Review "Goosebumps"

Review "Goosebumps" (2015)

 

Goosebumps tells the story of a teenager named, Zach(Dylan Minnette). Zach moves to a small town called Madison, Delaware with his mom, Gale(Amy Ryan). Here, he meets his next door neighbors. The famous young adult horror author, R. L. Stine(Jack Black) & his daughter, Hannah(Odeya Rush). One fateful night, the monsters from Stine's famous Goosebumps novels get accidentally released into the town of Madison, Delaware. Now, it is up to R. L. Stine, with the help of Zach & Hannah, to stop the monsters he created, from wreaking havoc in the small town of Madison, Delaware.

Goosebumps is a good film. The 3D & special effects are superb. All the famous monsters from R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series look as realistic as possible, thanks to the efforts of the folks at Sony Pictures Animation. The Ferris wheel set piece during the climax, is the highlight of the movie. The kids will definitely enjoy this film more than the adults. This movie is basically just a homage to the original Goosebumps novels. It doesn't retain the creepy element of the books or the TV show, which is based on the books. This movie is mainly a comedy thanks to the presence of stars like, Jack Black. So, don't go for the movie expecting to watch, what you loved reading & watching as a kid. Just think of this film, more as a tribute. However, if you don't like movies that try to make the audience laugh, with childish & slapstick gags then, this movie isn't for you. Jack Black is brilliant as R. L. Stine/Slappy/The Invisible Boy. Black's voice is perfect for the creepy living dummy, Slappy. Dylan Minnette is awesome as Zach. Odeya Rush is great as Hannah. Ryan Lee is hilarious as Champ. Amy Ryan is impressive as Gale. Jillian Bell is amazing as Lorraine. The supporting characters are effective too. Look out for R. L. Stine's cameo in the film. Goosebumps is not a must watch. However, if you want to watch an entertaining & family friendly movie this Halloween, make it Goosebumps.

 

(7/10)

Review "Boogie Nights"

Review "Boogie Nights" (1997)

It takes genius to make a believable film about the porn industry that makes us care about its characters, and for me, this movie accomplishes that nearly-impossible task. "Boogie Nights" is a film about the adult film industry in the 70's and early 80's, and even though the "sleaze" is there--it is done with style, humor, and taste. Eddie Adams aka Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) is a charming but not-very-bright 17-year old dishwasher who is "discovered" by Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a fatherly adult filmmaker in 1977. The movie tracks his career and life over the next 8 years, as well as the other members of Jack's "family." The camera follows its many characters from scene to scene with a certain joyfulness, and we come to care about all of them deeply, no matter how small their roles. There is a perfect balance of the hilarious and the tragic, and the fast pace never lets up. The end of the '70s' ends with a literal *bang*, which is totally appropriate and marks not only the end of a decade, but the shift in mood from a party-atmosphere to one of growing tension. The soundtrack is wonderful, with the songs not only appropriate for the time period, but also to underscore the feeling of each scene. There is a scene, late in the film, that must be seen to be believed. In it, Dirk Diggler and two of his druggie friends go to the home of a drug-dealer to try to rip him off. The interplay of hilarity and tension is almost unbearable. A little Chinese boy walks around the room setting off firecrackers as a crack-addled bathrobe-clad Alfred Molina (as the drug lord) rants and raves and sings along with "Sister Christian" and "Jesse's Girl" which blast on the stereo. We can feel the characters' uneasiness and sense of danger each time another firecracker goes off. Everyone should see this movie. There's never been another like it.

(9/10)

Review "The Breakfast Club"

Review "The Breakfast Club" (1985)

How does one review "The Breakfast Club"? Let me give it a try.
John Hughes is in my opinions the "king of teens." Each of his teen films is great, from "Sixteen Candles", "Pretty in Pink" (which he co-wrote and produced), and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." They all have funny and serious moments and are classics. By the same token, "The Breakfast Club" is no exception. However, it stands out as doing the best job of the above films at portraying 80s teen life (and perhaps even teen life today) as it really was (is). Hence the familiar plot: Five high school students from different crowds in school (a nerd, a jock, a prom queen, a delinquent, and a loner) are thrown together for a Saturday detention in their school library for various reasons. Detention is supervised by the gruff and demeaning principal Richard Vernon, believably portrayed by Paul Gleason. As the day progresses, each member tells the story of why they are in detention, and by day's end they realize they have more in common than they ever imagined.

What makes the film unique is that each character tells his or her own story with credibility and persistence. Jock Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) is under pressure from his father to perform up to high standards, which Mr. Clark believes will add to his (dad's) lost youth. Nerd Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) excels academically, but is failing shop class. Neither he nor his family can accept an F. Delinquent John Bender (Judd Nelson), while tough on the exterior, masks a difficult home life. Prom queen Claire(Molly Ringwald) has pressure to conform from her friends, as well as issues with her parental unit. Loner Allison (Ally Sheedy) has few if any friends, wears all black, and has similar problems at home. Can the emotional bonding they share in detention hold true beyond the library, and can stereotypes be broken?

"The Breakfast Club" presents no-doubt stereotypical characters, and every member represents countless real-life examples. But what makes it so enjoyable is that applies a variety of themes to its context: prejudice/discrimination, acceptance/tolerance, diversity, class/status differences, family matters, group dynamics, etc. It also encourages us to look at others and ourselves beyond surface-level appearances. Finally, "The Breakfast Club" has great 1980s pop culture and societal integrations, from the soundtrack with Simple Minds "Don't You (Forget about Me), to wealthy, surburban American life (haves and have nots), and superficial values of the "me" decade. It reminds us that there truly is diversity in all of us. We are different, but we are all "the same" in one way or another.

(10/10)

 

Review "Suburbicon"

Review "Suburbicon" (2017)

Suburbicon is a very dark comedy from the mind of director George Clooney. Clooney has a very twisted sense of humor. The gags about murder and death run rampant in the movie, yet some how we can't help but laugh at the misfortune that occurs to the characters in Suburbicon.

Suburbicon is a fictitious suburban town in the late 1950's where things are slow and the worries about the traffic and the hustle of the big city are far away. Then the unthinkable happens to the members of the small community; a black family moves to town!

We soon see the "true colors" of the people in the small community as they ban together to "over come" and run the professional black family out of town. Meanwhile, next door to the protesting mob, a home invasion takes place at the Gardner house (Matt Damon and Julianne Moore). Damon's wife is killed by the burglars and he and his sister-in-law pick up the pieces after the crime, along with his young son Nicky (Noah Jupe), and start a new life. But things take a twist and we find out that Damon's character is not what he appears to be to everyone in the community of Suburbicon.

The movie is written by Clooney, along with the Cohen Brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou) and is about as satirical as you can get. It drips with irony and is a social commentary film about this country, both in the 1950's and still even today.

Damon is TRULY chilling in this film.It almost made me angry watching it. Moore always plays these interesting characters and was at the top of her game.Go see Suburbicon, it's a beauty.

(7/10)

Review "Orphan"

You can replace this image with one of your own.

Retro-Review "Orphan" (2009)

Finally, a horror film about adults. Adults with complex issues and children that act like children and not hyper precocious sex models. The reason to see this film isn't to find out the over advertised " Esther's secret" of the film (a MAJOR misstep in marketing. Too many people now enter the film trying to figure out the "secret" before they normally would have been surprised), but rather to see a well-acted (extremely well acted by Vera F.)slow-building suspense story with excellent direction and cinematography. John Ottman's score also serves the film well, without becoming overpowering in signaling this is a "creepy" film. The actress who plays Esther shows a skill in performance that makes one think we may actually have another Jodie Foster to keep an eye on. This film works because we LIKE the characters (Rob Zombie please take note!) and fear for them and their survival. Dark Castle's best film, and it gives one hope that the horror/suspense genre still can be presented with intelligence and depth. Hollywood take note: we don't want a xerox of this film, but we do want more films that share this films strenghts: good script, likable real characters, excellent acting and nice, tension building direction.

(9/10)

 

Review "Happy Death Day"

Review "Happy Death Day" (2017)

Tree Gelbman is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named Carter. As the morning goes on, Tree gets the eerie feeling that she's experienced the events of this day before. When a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter's dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.

I'm starting to see a trend develop in modern horror movies (the good ones at least) and I really like it. Film makers are beginning to realise that for horror to work there has to be some different levels to the film. 90 minutes of watching people get killed isn't going to be able to cut it anymore. You have to be able to make the audience laugh, think and even move them emotionally. If you can do that then your film will be a success. Earlier this year 'Get Out' pulled it off and now 'Happy Death Day' has nailed it too.

When the opening logos featured a joke (literally in the first few seconds of the film) I thought I may have misread the tone of the film in the trailers. Turns out I had, but in a good way. It wasn't an indication that the film was to be a laugh-fest, simply that it had that layer to it. And the thing about the layers that the film possesses it that every one of them works. Whatever it tries to pull off it manages.

The twists and turns and how crafty it is about concealing them truly blew me away. At least three times I thought to myself such and such element would be better if they'd done so and so, only to later find out they did indeed have that up their sleeve the whole time. The film is incredibly smart.

I can't say enough good things about this film. The trailers won't give a fair indication to people of what this film is truly capable of, and so sadly I fear many who would love it will not get around to seeing it. If you get the chance though please do see it. It's a fantastic film and you won't be disappointed. A sweet treat.

(9/10)

Review "Dallas Buyers Club"

Review "Dallas Buyers Club" (2013)

Matthew McConaughey is barely recognizable as Ron Woodroof, an electrician/womanizer who ends up finding out he's contracted HIV/AIDS and has 30 days left to live. After searching deeper for information on a relatively unknown disease (at the time), he finds out that there is existing medication that is not yet approved in the U.S.A. that could help him survive longer.

However, after running into red tape when trying to obtain medication, he decides to smuggle massive amounts of pharmaceutical products and starts selling them to other HIV/AIDS infected patients, creating the "Dallas Buyers Club".

First of all, what a film. Jean-Marc Vallée's "C.R.A.Z.Y." was quite something to watch, but "Dallas Buyers Club" is a tremendous achievement. Vallée's directing is stellar, the script is top notch, and features a palette of characters that makes this story truly engaging and human.

Homophobia, illness, lust, being incapable of receiving proper treatment, smuggling, death, friendship, the limitations of the legal system, these are all themes that would lead one to think that this film is a depressing drama. It is not. And that's where the success of "Dallas Buyers Club" lies. All these themes would make the perfect recipe for a melodrama, wrap it up in a small package with a big star (McConaughey), and put the "Based on a true Story" stamp. But it's so much, much more.

"Dallas Buyers Club" avoids all the traps of melodrama by being whole-heartedly hilarious at times, with just the proper dose of raw emotion, and performances that will be remembered for ages. Half-way through the film, my friends and I looked at each other, in a bit of disbelief, unanimously agreeing that McConaughey deserved hisOscar for this. Jared Leto is also wonderful as Rayon, an AIDS-infected transvestite patient that will become a great friend and business partner, and that will trigger Woodroof's change of vision towards homosexuality. And it is not drastic. It comes in all kinds of subtleties and heart-warming moments. Hats off to Jennifer Garner as well, she is flawless.

Without ever offering a heavy-hearted tone, this is a story of perseverance and positivity with an interesting setting that sheds some light on an often forgotten page of history. Engaging social drama, well-written comedy, and wonderful cinematic experience altogether.

(9.5/10)