Movie NERD

Review "Mamma Mia ! Here We Go Again"

In 1979 young Donna, Tanya and Rosie graduate from Oxford University -- leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry, Bill and Sam -- the latter whom she falls in love with, but he's also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna's pregnant daughter, Sophie, dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother's old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.  

So, ten years after "Mamma Mia!", here we go again! I must say that I recognize that the first movie is not a great movie but I really like it. This time, after watching the trailers, my expectations were really high. I watched the movie yesterday and now I can say that I loved it. And it is way better than the first one. The movie shows a young Donna, played by the amazing Lily James - that looks great in this movie and, oh!, she is a great singer! It is really funny to watch how she met the "three fathers", Sam, Bill and Harry - and also must say that Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner are great too. At the same time, since all the scenes from the young Donna are only flashbacks, we see how is Sophie's life, after a tragedy in the family. Yes, we have another party here, so the plot is basically the same as the first movie. But this movie knew exactly what people like in "Mamma Mia!", so everything here looks fine and it's really enjoyable. This time everyone can sing properly, even Pierce Brosnan. And the choreographys are beautiful, especially the one for the song "Dancing Queen". Just to finish, I need to say that the end of the movie is a beautiful surprise. Everyone that liked "Mamma Mia!" will like this movie. And I think those who didn't like the first movie should give a chance to this one.  

(8/10) 

Review "The Burbs"

"The Burbs" (1989)

Settling in for some time off in his suburban home, Ray Peterson's (Tom Hanks) vacation becomes a horror when the Klopeks, a suspiciously odd family, move in down the block. Enlisting the aid of his paranoid buddy, Art (Rick Ducommun), and his militia-man neighbor, Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), Ray sends his son and wife (Carrie Fisher) away on a trip while he investigates the Klopeks. When a neighbor disappears, Ray and his cohorts risk their lives to save their cul-de-sac from the clutches of evil. 

This is a great example of what Tom Hanks was doing in his former career of a comedic actor, before he returned to serious acting. The story follows three incredibly nosey suburbanites, spying on their new neighbours the Klopek's as they expect them to be murderers. Winning performances all round, but especially from Hanks. He is well supported by the likes of Carrie Fisher, as his wife, and ex-army man Bruce Dern, with Henry Gibson giving his usual solid performance. A greatly funny movie which leaves you wondering why Hanks ever turned his back on comedy.  

(10/10) 

Review "Death Becomes Her"

"Death Becomes Her" (1992) 

When a novelist loses her man to a movie star and former friend, she winds up in a psychiatric hospital. Years later, she returns home to confront the now-married couple, looking radiant. Her ex-husband's new wife wants to know her secret, and discovers that she has been taking a mysterious drug which grants eternal life to the person who drinks it. The actress follows suit, but discovers that immortality has a price. 

There is so much greatness in this unexpected Hollywood comedy that the cheap shots are really cheap and, quite frankly, unbearable. Buried somewhere between the special effects (extraordinary by the way) is one the wittiest satires to come out of Hollywood in many, many moons. Meryl Streep is sensational and Bruce Willis is, I swear, unrecognizable in the best possible way. The movie hits the highest moments when, for instance, Meryl asks Isabella Rossellini how much the magic potion costs and Isabella replays: "Oh the sordid topic of coin" sublime, exquisite, funny but with enormous regard for its audience. But when Bruce calls Goldie Hawn to explain the "incident" at home he goes through a TV style monologue that seems to belong to a sit-com and not to the elegant vulgarity of this three sad, magnificent wannabees. The dialogue, for the most part, is the best in any American serious comedy since Billy Wilder. The structure of the script is flawless and inventive. The costumes are atrocious and certain scenes seem directed by a 3rd assistant. I don't know how to explain it. However, I have it, I own it and sometimes I put it on with my finger in the fast forward. What's good is so good that makes the whole thing really worth it. 

(9/10)   

Review "Just Friends"

"Just Friends" (2005)

We all come across that film that usually belongs to a very stale and processed genre, which promotion and poster and actor lineup seem tedious in and of themselves... but that is actually really good. Hidden gems, if you will. It's a matter of the actors establishing good chemistry on the set, a real feeling of coziness and cohesiveness among the crew like the director and entire cast had time to grow into a comfort zone and produce a fully matured product with caricatured but detailed characters, an original soundtrack, etc.

It's the sort of flick that wouldn't be anything without its very definite humor and gags though, despite the main narrative being actually quite original and a now cult classic theme (if not original, then one of the main "friendzone" concept films surely), and whether you like him or not, Ryan Reynolds brings his personal and unique touch to every movie set he enters. He and Anna Faris are hilarious here, some scenes genuinely some of the funniest stuff from that entire cinematic era I can think of and surely connected on a purely humorous level where they were completely comfortable around each other and managed some of the best onscreen one-two combo comedy. They'd also played together in "Waiting..." that same year, so, good chemistry and good complementary back and forth.

Amy Smart does well also as the warm college crush/sweetheart many of us had growing up, but it's really the secondary characters that give this movie a major boost and fill in the blanks with comedic gusto when the protagonists aren't hogging up all the airtime: Chris Brander's mom (played by Julie Hagerty) is hilarious and hits so close to home as the overly naive and preoccupied mom ("well honey what on earth are you doing over at Joyce's ?!" -"be yourselllllffff !"), Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein): absolutely hilarious character. And you know the movie makers put in genuine heart and effort when the film has its own batch of original songs that depict a character's flaws: "When Jamie Smiles" as the "stalker's national anthem", or Samantha James' "Forgiveness". And then of course Reynolds in the intro (full version later during the ending credits) delivers the single most hilarious and comprehensively demolished singing-simulation cover I've ever seen of that deliciously putrid song "I swear" by..whatever boy's band at the time. The relationship Brander has with his most annoying and immature little brother also adds to the good fun and the relatable quality of the overall picture.

Whenever this film given its nature was supposed to run out of funny-steam, it kept going - whenever it was supposed to finally look like a cardboard Hollywood disposable comedy, it held up well enough - whenever the cheesiness was supposed to kick in hard, it managed to keep its composure and not sell out. It manages to tell the truest story, deliver a genuine moral that doesn't collapse or sell itself too fast, while being quite honestly very funny even hilarious in parts and never stutter with its pace.  

(9.5/10) 

 

Review "Book Club"

"Book Club" (2018)

Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage, Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached, Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through her decades-old divorce, and Carol's (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. The lives of these four lifelong friends are turned upside down after reading the infamous "50 Shades of Grey," catapulting them into a series of outrageous life choices. 

Producer/Writer ("A Walk in the Woods") Bill Hoderman leaps into the Directors chair, with this star packed ensemble piece. With some of our biggest female celebrity names associated with the film (Fonda, Keaton, Bergen, Steenburgen), it would be hard to miss with this one. Luckily, writers Hoderman, along with writer/actress Erin Simms, know the books premise, know their stars strengths and are capable of presenting realistic dialogue, thus enabling the gals to shine. In addition, none of the celebs have any behind the scenes credits here, freeing all up to just act and do what they do best! Add in several terrific male supporting roles by Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley Jr., and a great little role by Wallace Shawn ("Young Sheldon"), and this film has you smiling throughout. It was also great to see Alicia Silverstone ("Clueless") back on the big screen, along with Katie Aselton ("Legion" TV), as Keaton's uptight daughters. The book "Fifty Shades of Grey" is the backdrop for the "Book Club," giving each gal something to think about in their current and/or lack of current relationship(s). Hoderman/Simms were smart to only hint at the books erotism, without going into all the known detail, thus enabling the ladies and the film to run with the books premise. You know the actors, you've probably read one of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books, or scene one, two or all the movies. Now, sit back and watch as some of your favorite stars do what they do best - act!  

(9.5/10)   

Review "The Spy Who Dumped Me"

"The Spy Who Dumped Me" (2018)

After being dumped by an mysterious man with whom she fell in love at a bar, Audrey and her best friend end up in the middle of a large scale conspiracy, fighting for their lives and trying to help the good guys, whichever they might be.

It's a movie which, judging by its title, is supposed to be a laugh as it clearly doesn't take itself seriously. Thus, you'd expect it to have an average story with some average characters which one way or another, will make you laugh multiple times, or at least keep you entertained. Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, almost none of the above are met. It has a boring plot, which although seems to start in the right way, is rapidly falls into ridiculous and forgettable, throwing most interest out the window. It's also predictable, linear and although presents a twist towards the end, it fails to deliver something good. The characters portrayed are simply idiotic, especially the blonde friend which does everything in her power to prove her "intelligence" quickly becoming unpleasant and even easy to hate. And as they bring no sympathy, their actions bring little entertainment or even interest.

It tries to add some suspense through some intense action scenes but as they are extremely exaggerated and having the same characters in focus, they sort of miss their target. To make matters even worse than they already are, the comical part which is supposed to be the core of such a movie, also proves to be a huge let-down. It simply fails to make the viewer laugh, at least it failed miserably with me. I laughed only twice in the whole movie, while those times being due to character stupidity and not from some ingenious idea or a very good joke, pun or something.

It's a movie which from my point of view, misses to do what it tried to do. I can accept a mediocre story or some not very well described characters in such a movie, as far as it manages to be entertaining or even funny. This one did nothing of the above, thus its purpose was simply not reached. Kunis is better than this. Genuinely funny, just not in this.

(6.5/10) 

 

Review "Frankenweenie"

"Frankenweenie" (2012)

Greetings again from the darkness. Being a huge fan of Tim Burton's 1984 short of the same title, news of a feature length feature was very exciting. It's obvious from both films that director Tim Burton holds the story and project close to his heart. The obvious guess is that young Victor Frankenstein has much in common with the enigmatic director's childhood experience ... a social misfit who finds joy in less than popular outlets (science, sci-fi, filmmaking).

The story begins simply enough, Victor - a socially inept boy, whose only friend is his loyal dog Sparky, quickly connects with the new science teacher, Mr. Rzykroski (who bears a striking resemblance to the late, great Vincent Price). Victor's parents try to get him more engaged and that leads to a tragic accident that kills Sparky. Victor is heart-broken but his scientific mind leads to a shocking development thanks to a local lightning storm. Soon enough, Sparky is back! Of course, the secret gets out and the Science Fair takes on quite a competitive nature.

Burton really treats the film as an homage to old monster, horror and sci-fi films. We get tributes to Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula (complete with Christopher Lee), Godzilla, Bride of Frankenstein, Gremlins, Jurrassic Park and others I certainly missed on first viewing. But this is so much more. Mr. Rzykroski gives a less than PC speech to the local townspeople, and though it is straight to the point, that point is lost on these fine folks. The importance of science and learning and accepting the differences of others is all touched upon, but not in a preachy way.

The voice work is stellar thanks to Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Charlie Tahan, Martin Landau and Atticus Shaffer (Brick on "The Middle"). The style and texture of the film is extraordinary. The shadows and lighting provide an atmosphere that adds just enough creepiness. The detail involved with the characters and setting is remarkable for stop-motion animation. Not just that, but how many movies have you seen recently that include a cat-bat, sea monkeys, and a giant turtle? The suburban setting is almost identical to the neighborhood seen in Burton's Edward Scissorhands, just without the 1960's color palette.

This is excellent movie entertainment for adults and children alike. Unfortunately, the black and white presentation has meant a lack of interest from today's kids. Sure it has some darkness to it, but the PG rating means nothing too heavy. This is Tim Burton at his finest ... and without Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter! Also, Danny Elfman's score perfectly compliments the story and characters, and stay for the credits to hear a very odd Karen O song. 

(8/10) 

Review "The Happytime Murders"

"The Happytime Murders" (2018)

Detective Phil Philips is a down-on-his-luck puppet who used to work for the Los Angeles Police Department. When two puppets from an old TV show wind up dead, Phil suspects something is afoot and rejoins the LAPD as a consultant. Reunited with Connie Edwards, his former human partner, the bickering duo soon find themselves in a race against time to protect other former cast members before the killer strikes again.

Unlike my recent guilty pleasure, Jigsaw, I am undeterred in admitting that I loved The Happytime Murders, because it directly caters to my love of puppets and depraved sense of humor. Also, if a movie puts Melissa McCarthy at the forefront, that is also an easy selling point. This is probably my favorite of her non-Paul Feig-helmed projects. And an adult-oriented puppet movie directed by Brian Henson, son of the Puppet King himself?

Depicting a world where humans and puppets coexist, but puppets are regarded as second-class citizens (race relations, much?), there once was a puppet cop, Phil Philips (Bill Barretta), whose mistake on a hostage situation a decade earlier ended his career, leaving him to become a grizzled private investigator. The select acquaintances he has are former stars-including his older brother-of a popular 90s Pee-Wee's Playhouse-looking expy called The Happytime Gang, of which its cast comprises of other puppets and one human character, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks).

Philips is brought on as a consultant to the LAPD when members of the cast start dying, and this brings him face-to-face with his ex-partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), who testified against him, thus costing him his tenure. In a hilarious supporting role is Philips' secretary, known only as Bubbles (Maya Rudolph), who subverts the ditzy cliché. The race to find the killer feels drawn out but there are plenty of laughs along the way.

It may feel like it's trying to cap onto a success like Team America: World Police, Happytime has its own charm, which is carried by McCarthy and Barretta in their constant back-and-forth banter, and a multitude of eccentric characters, although the latter really only applies to its fluffy cast. Joel McHale's FBI agent role merely exists as an antagonistic punching bag, and Leslie David Baker's lieutenant earns a few chuckles.

In the end, if you're looking for smart, go watch Mission: Impossible or something. This is for turning your brain off and finding humor in sex jokes and silly string ejaculating puppets. And if you're a parent who thinks 'Oh, look! Fluffy puppets must mean it's for children', you're either one of those people who got mad when you realized Sausage Party wasn't for children or you really don't care about the impending therapy bills.

(9.5/10) 

Review "Saw"

"Saw" (2004)

Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end of a filthy bathroom. As the two men realize they've been trapped by a sadistic serial killer nicknamed "Jigsaw" and must complete his perverse puzzle to live, flashbacks relate the fates of his previous victims. Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon's wife (Monica Potter) and young daughter (Makenzie Vega) are forced to watch his torture via closed-circuit video. 

Since "Nattevagten" I have not seen a thriller that has kept me on the edge of my seat as well as "Saw". Right from the beginning this original story sucks you in and doesn't let you go until the very end. Thrillers as gripping as this one have become extremely rare in times like these, where people have seen almost everything and can guess any twist during the first half of the movie. With "Saw" James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creative heads behind this project, set new standards. Think you're hard-boiled? Think again and watch "Saw", a movie that will creep you out and surprise you beyond your expectations.

"Saw" has been advertised as the new "Se7en" and while both movies are definitely in the same tradition, "Saw" does a much better job at actually being creepy. Jigsaw is the most gruesome killer the cinema has seen in a loooong time. Wan and Whannel really came up with a monster that has no peer. Where many movies drift into ridiculousness trying to establish the villain as an almost superhuman evil being, "Saw" does never get anywhere near that trap. Sure, the cops are depicted way too stupid and the killer is unrealistically smart, outshining each and every opponent with his perfect plans, but hey, "Se7en" and "Silence Of The Lambs" didn't care too much about realism, either, did they?

"Saw" does have some flaws. Those sped-up tracking shots have just been used too many times by now, the structure of the script is weird and jumps from one period of time to another, some characters' lines are a bit clichéd. However, considering that this movie was made in only 18 days by two independent filmmakers with literally no budget at all, it's really inappropriate to be petty about technical subtleties, when Wan and Whannel came up with such an original and stirring movie.

I can't remember the last time I've been surprised by a movie's final twist, but "Saw" has an ending that I didn't see coming at all. This thriller is the most original piece of independent film-making since "Cube". I'm really looking forward to seeing how Wan and Whannell's career develops after this fine sleeper.  A Masterpiece.

(9/10) 

Review "Never Say Never Again"

"Never Say Never Again" (1983)

You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that make a Bond film a Bond film. And even though NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is not technically part of the official Bond filmography, the mere presence of Sean Connery returning as 007 makes it something more than merely an honorary member of the series. Anyway, here's how it rates on a scale of 1 to 10:

Title: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: The clever title has no apparent link to the actual storyline, but is instead an in-joke reference to Sean Connery's vow to never play OO7 again after having been lured back once before for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. Whatever the case, it is a catchy title. 8 points.

Pre-Credit Teaser: Perhaps trying to avoid any obvious parallels to the official EON series of Bond films, there is no Teaser; the opening scenes are just shown behind the credits. And even that is disappointing: yet another "oh-no, Bond has been killed" fakeout. 4 points.

Opening Credits: Other than a screen full of tiny 007's, they didn't even bother trying to jazz up the credits with graphics or split screens or interesting camera angles. 1 points.

Theme Song: As written by Michel LeGrand and sung by Lani Hall "Never Say Never Again" would make for a perfectly pleasant part of a particularly long elevator ride. As a Bond theme, it's merely okay. 6 points.

"Bond, James Bond": Appropriately, since this film sees Connery being lured back into service as Bond after a decade's hiatus, the story begins with 007 facing the question as to whether Bond/Connery is still up to the job. Happily, Connery more than proves himself ready for Bondage again. Though he is a bit grayer, sporting a bit more girth and wearing a slightly more obvious toupee, he seems to have no trouble slipping back into action. All in all, it is one of Connery's best, and most relaxed, turns as the character. 9 points.

Bond Babes: Even in the best of the Bond films, the female characters aren't given much dimension; they exist largely as necessary props for Bond's use. Future Oscar-winner Kim Basinger is granted a great deal of leeway in creating her character of Domino Petachi and the film benefits from this. She does a nice job -- and she's not bad to look at either. 8 points.

Bond Villain: The reports of his death being obviously exaggerated, Blofeld is back -- at least, for the moment -- showing he has more lives than his prized pussycat. One-time Jesus portrayer-turned-stereotypical villain, Max von Sydow isn't given a lot to do in the role, but is a silky presence nonetheless. But he is overshadowed by a wonderful performance by Klaus Maria Brandauer as Maximilian Largo. After a string of banal Bond villains, it is so refreshing for Brandauer to gave a performance that is both subtle, yet colorfully evil. Funny without being campy, ruthless without seeming cartoonish; his Largo ranks right up there with Auric Goldfinger as one of Bond's best villains. 10 points.

Bond Baddies: Fatima Blush! What can I say? As played with all the bold style of a particularly flamboyant drag queen, Barbara Carrera breezes through the film, displaying a mix of self-amused evil and more than a tad of pure psychotic insanity. Bond has crossed paths with a variety of femmes fatales, most of whom have been so easily disposed of that they existed more as amusing eye candy than as characters. But few dared to exhibit such a flare for the dramatic or such fierce determination. Even her untimely demise is spectacular, even by Bondian standards. 10 points.

Sinister Plot: As a remake of sorts of THUNDERBALL, the film does seem a bit been-there-done-that: nuclear missiles are stolen and major real estate will go kaboom if all the countries of the world don't pay a multi-kazillion dollar ransom. But at least producer Kevin McClory was lucky enough to find himself forced to remake one of the weakest Bond adventures. By comparisons, this effort blows THUNDERBALL out of the water. And despite the absence of many Bondian trademarks, the film succeeds on its own. 9 points.

Production values: The film starts out with an uneasy style, like a TV movie trying to be more than it can. But as the story progress, the film gains momentum and a sense of purpose, making it a superior adventure. 8 points.

Bonus Points: There are several odd changes that sets this Bond film apart from the official series. Miss Moneypenny is hardly acknowledged; as played by Edward Fox, "M" is a cranky old grouch with no respect for the "Double Os," a foreshadowing of how Judi Dench would later play the part; and "Q" suddenly has a cockney accent and is all buddy-buddy with Bond. And there is a curious sense of nostalgia throughout the film, such as replacing Bond's Astin-Martin with a vintage Packard and a tango dance number that is cleverly inserted into the story. And a big rescue near the end is on horseback, an homage to THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, which was itself a tribute to the Bond films. 5 points.

Summary: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is a mixed bag. In the really important areas, it more than holds it own thanks to hero Connery, villain Brandauer, assassin Carrera and damsel-in-distress Basinger. But the devil is in the details; as seemingly unimportant as the opening credits, theme song and such seem, the film is lacking because of their absence. It all comes off as a faux Bond film; a very good substitute, but a substitute nonetheless.

(9/10) Overall

Review "The Libertine"

"The Libertine" (2004)

John Wilmot (Johnny Depp), the egotistical second Earl of Rochester, leads an entirely debauched life. When not writing bawdy verse, Wilmot spends his time imbibing massive amounts of alcohol and bedding myriad women, including Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton). When King Charles II (John Malkovich) commissions him to write a play, he happily agrees. But after Wilmot foolishly uses his big break to skewer the crown, he must face a furious Charles -- and the real possibility of exile.

Stunning acting all round in this wonderful tale of conflict, passion, sex and the power of the royal hierarchy. Johnny Depp is on top of his game and from the opening scene we ironically love him. His performance is closely followed by a powerful stone-like King Charles II, portrayed by John Malkovich.

As we all know, Johnny Depp is renowned for his perfection when using an accent or voice in a role. He brings to life Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he added a new different and interesting aspect with his performance as Willy Wonka, he added an inspiring and heart-throbbing performance as the innocent Edward Scissorhands. He does the same and more in this film, with a strong immaculate upper-middle class Englishman accent that doesn't drop below perfection at any point through out the entire gripping movie.

This Film follows the life and gruesome death of Earl Rochester- a man wanting sex, passion and danger at all times.

This film is stunning, and i imagine all the actors (minus a frustrating Johnny Vegas) and directors involved with this film will feel proud of their magnificent performances.

i was gripped by this movie from the very beginning, being intrigued by Rochester from the very opening scene to feeling emotional by the end scenes. Like i said this film is stunning, those who love it love it for an reason, those who hate it will learn to appreciate it. I loved this film, I hope you do as well.

(10/10)

Review "Skyfall"

"Skyfall" (2012)

When James Bond's (Daniel Craig) latest assignment goes terribly wrong, it leads to a calamitous turn of events: Undercover agents around the world are exposed, and MI6 is attacked, forcing M (Judi Dench) to relocate the agency. With MI6 now compromised inside and out, M turns to the one man she can trust: Bond. Aided only by a field agent (Naomie Harris), Bond takes to the shadows and follows a trail to Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M's past who wants to settle an old score.

It's the Bond film we've all been waiting for. After the stunning reinvention of Casino Royale and the misstep that followed with Quantum of Solace, Skyfall feels like a true resurrection of the character and the Bond universe, and an incredible addition to the storied franchise. From its spectacular opening scene in Istanbul to its sensational climax in the Scottish Highlands, the film grabs hold of the audience and never lets go.

With the great Sam Mendes at the helm, Skyfall is propelled by a veritable narrative purpose. Mendes values story and character over anything, and he gets Bond. His action sequences are thrilling, artfully directed, and a joy to watch. He directs with finesse and nuance the powerful character-driven scenes. He understands the soul and essence of Bond and respects the spirit of the franchise but also breaks new ground with the treatment of the story.

Speaking of which, the script tells a moving, thematically resonant and intelligent story, and features superbly written scenes. It is more focused than Quantum of Solace, which felt oddly disjointed at times. Writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan elegantly balance humorous moments with truly dramatic ones while never straying from the emotional heart of the film. Best of all, they further develop Casino Royale's brilliant idea of delving into Bond's vulnerability and the result is a fascinating and flawed character. The human and moral stakes are high and much more personal this time around. The audience feels emotionally invested in the story. In the end, the film is a reflection on aging and on not only why the world needs Bond but also why he must and will endure.

Visually, Skyfall is a true wonder. Roger Deakins' cinematography is aesthetically magnificent and serves the story well. Deakins shoots Istanbul, London, Macau, Shanghai and the Scottish Highlands in a tasteful, artistic and original manner. It is by far the most beautifully shot Bond I have ever seen. Thomas Newman's score is terrific and rich, cleverly using the classic Bond theme in new and interesting ways and incorporating Adele's already-classic theme to create a memorable piece of music.

Finally, the cast all deliver fine performances. Daniel Craig gives a thoughtful, moving and nuanced performance, which constitutes his strongest interpretation of the character to date. Judi Dench offers a much more intimate and personal take on M. Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe are memorable. And what to say of Javier Bardem, who steals every scene he appears in? He is funny, unpredictable, frightening and most interestingly, tragic. A fantastic Bond villain.

If you had any reservation about seeing this film after the lacklustre Quantum of Solace, fear no more. Skyfall redeems faults of the past and is one of the best films of the year. It hits all the right notes. Sam Mendes has infused Bond with a deft sense of fun, pathos and class.

It's a great time at the movies. Pure Gold. 

(10/10)

Review "Action Point"

"Action Point" (2018)

D.C. is the crackpot owner of Action Point -- a low-rent, out-of-control amusement park where the rides are designed with minimum safety for maximum fun. Just as his estranged daughter Boogie comes to visit, a corporate mega-park opens nearby and jeopardizes the future of Action Point. To save his beloved park and his relationship with Boogie, D.C. and his loony crew of misfits must risk everything to pull out all the stops and save the day.

I feel like Johnny Knoxville has lost a step. I don't know how true that is, because thinking about how much I loved Bad Grandpa contradicts that, but he looks old in this (not just because he is old but I'm sure years of stunt work will do that for you), he looks worn out old.

In what looks like a homage to Action Park, Knoxville plays a park owner literally keeping the rides together using duck tape when a rival park plans to put him out of the biz, so he ups his game by turning down the safety measurements, which allows Knoxville to do what he does best.

I think this movie could have used the support of the entire Jackass crew and not just Chris Pontus, although Pontus totally proves if you are going to do this with only one member, he's got to be that member. Absolutely Hilarious

Realistically, if you are a fan of Knoxville and Jackass you'll love this picture, but I do feel they could have used more slap stick stunts and less story.

(6.5/10)

Review "The Sting"

"The Sting" (1973)

Johnny Hooker and Luther Coleman are `grifters' or confidence tricksters in 1930s Chicago. Unknown to them, however, one of their victims works for a vicious local gangster named Doyle Lonnegan, and when Lonnegan finds out what has happened he has Luther murdered. Hooker is not a violent man by nature and admits that he does not know much about killing, but nevertheless wishes to take revenge for his partner's death. He decides that the best way is to hurt Lonnegan's pride by relieving him of some of his wealth. He joins forces with another con man named Henry Gondorff, and together they come up with an elaborate plan, not only to cheat Lonnegan, but also to do it in such a way that he never realises that he has been cheated. The plot unfolds with great ingenuity; until the final denouement the audience are never quite sure which developments are for real and which are part of the elaborate scheme.

Crime thrillers set during this period are normally associated with the classic `film noir' style, with its dark, brooding, cynical atmosphere. In `The Sting', however, George Roy Hill deliberately sets out to create a very different mood. The style is almost the exact opposite of film noir. The acting is heavily stylised (as is the scenery), and the division of the film into sections with titles such as `The Hook' or `The Line' is reminiscent of the formal division of a stage play into acts and scenes. The film is not in black-and-white but in bright colour, and the mood, far from being heavy and brooding, is light and cheerful. Scott Joplin's music, although written slightly earlier than the period in which the film is set, fits this mood perfectly. The major actors all play their parts perfectly- Robert Shaw as the glowering, menacing Lonnegan, Robert Redford as the young, idealistic Hooker (insofar as a con-man can be said to be an idealist), and Paul Newman as the older, more experienced and laid-back Gondorff. There are also good contributions from Charles Durning as the corrupt policement Lieutenant Snyder and Robert Earl Jones as Luther.

Despite the cheerful mood, the film has serious undertones in keeping with its themes of revenge and murder. I am not usually a great admirer of what are known as `heist' or `caper' movies, as I feel that too often they glamourise crime and dishonesty. `The Sting', however, is different. Hooker and Gondorff live in a world where the moral order has broken down. The police are hopelessly corrupt- Snyder, the one representative we see of the forces of law and order, is on Lonnegan's payroll. There is no chance of Hooker getting justice for his friend's murder through the normal channels; the only way in which this can be achieved is to go outside the law. Where the police are crooked, only the criminals can execute justice. The emotional satisfaction we feel at the end of the film is because a sort of moral order has finally been restored and, moreover, because this has been done without anyone getting injured except Lonnegan's wallet. An excellent film, which well deserved its Academy Award.

(10/10)

Review "The Virgin Suicides"

"The Virgin Suicides" (1999)

In an ordinary suburban house, on a lovely tree-lined street, in the middle of 1970s America, lived the five beautiful, dreamy Lisbon sisters, whose doomed fates indelibly marked the neighborhood boys who to this day continue to obsess over them. A story of love and repression, fantasy and terror, sex and death, memory and longing. It is at its core a mystery story: a heart-rending investigation into the impenetrable, life-altering secrets of American adolescence.

 

As far as really really good movies I've had the fortune of seeing recently the one that really stands out is a overlooked movie that came out in 1999 "The Virgin Suicides." The movie while one of the more depressing movies in recent memories is just brilliantly directed by first time director Sofia Coppola (it was also her first screenplay - quite impressive indeed). I thought you know going into this movie depressing movies just sometimes make it really really tough for me to like the movie they have those endings where its like you emotionally feel like you have just fallen off a cliff... yet  I was very moved by this movie... the directing, cinematography, acting, music - all work extremely well hand in hand complementing each other. This movie will make you even more so want to enjoy every second and moment with those rare & special people you meet on the roads of life.

Josh Hartnett as Trip Fontaine turns in a very cool performance. Kathleen Turner turns in a performance that is so good you wonder how she got overlooked when it came Oscar time... and of course James Woods is incredible as are all the Lisbon sisters. Kirsten Dunst is intoxicatingly beautiful in this movie and really proves she is going to be an amazing actress to watch in the years ahead.

Probably my favorite sequence in the movie is the telephone sequence towards the end... the scene starts out and your not quite sure where it's going to go... but once the needle on the record strikes and the Todd Rundgren song "Hello It's Me" starts to play it transports you into a genuinely touching movie moment (and a great use of split screens) as you watch the boys and Lisbon sisters phone each other back playing music that perfectly fits. Another favorite scene is where Josh Hartnett leaves the Lisbon house... and you know he is sorta on this "not-really a date - date. The montages throughout the movie and their interludes with the music by the band "Air" combined with the beautiful cinematography by Edward Lachman are just pure movie magic.

All in all a movie that draws you in despite its slow moments, depressing moments, and haunting moments... a movie full of life, quite moments, passion, imagination, reaching out, and those moments in life not usually seen in movies that are beautifully captured in a very passionate way. Going back over the movie I find that when the movie works you become much like the boys in the movie fully enthralled with the Lisbon sisters and searching for clues and answers as to "why... why... why"... as key and subtle moments pass by... its very hard not to fall in love with the Lisbon sisters... and though they exist solely in the realm of this movie... you feel that they are real as if they were someone you know in your life either as sister or a friend that you care about deeply and you feel their ups and downs... yet at the same time you can't reach out to help... though you desperately want to...

(9/10)

Review "Mission Impossible- Fallout"

"Mission Impossible- Fallout" (2018)

'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' burst onto the scene this weekend, rejuvenating what had been a mostly baron summer of action-blockbusters. Sure, we had 'Equalizer 2' and 'Skyscraper,' but those were both meh. Thankfully, this film is far better than meh. Actually, it's excellent.

Its excellence comes from a commitment to the craft. Normally, three months of intensive training are required for someone to qualify for a helicopter pilot's license. Tom Cruise, in preparation for this film, did it in half that time. How? By training 16 hours a day, seven days a week. He did all this for one action sequence. That's the level of commitment to the craft that went into this movie.

Each grand set piece (all of which are glorious) fills the frame just right. Very little CGI is used, which makes everything look real because it is real. We aren't watching a contrived creation of what is supposed to look like Tom Cruise zipping through town on a motorcycle-he's actually zipping through town on a motorcycle. And that helicopter pilot training? That paid off in a big way. It delivered what is one of the best, most intense action sequences in years.

Each scene flows smoothly into the next, rarely pausing to catch its breath. It brings to mind memories of 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' which featured a similarly breakneck pace and continuous propulsion. Fallout's action doesn't quite reach that level, but the feel is certainly similar.

I've waited this long to mention the plot because I hardly considered it essential, which might sound weird or as though it's a detriment (it's not). There is a lot to know and also very little know. Early scenes feature some rather extensive exposition. The density and length of these conversations may cause some viewers' minds to wander-that's okay.

While the dialogue is crisp and the details are helpful for better understanding the plot, all viewers really need to understand is that a group of terrorists called The Apostles want to wreak havoc, and it's Ethan Hunt's mission to stop them. Basically, he and his team need to save the world.

There's nothing wrong with action taking center stage over the story in this case. After all, this is an action movie. The minute reasons why something is happening become less important when what is happening is so masterfully executed and thrilling to watch.

The camera whirls majestically around each chase sequence, and the fight scenes pop off the screen. They're brutal, well-shot and coherent, which is not always the case with big budget action films. The violence feels real, as do the consequences. I know jaw-dropping is a bit of a cliché description to use, but these fight scenes (and a few additional action sequences) literally made my jaw drop.

And of course, in between the fights, we receive a hefty dose of Tom Cruise running really fast. He's one of the all-time best movie runners. Tremendous intensity. Beautiful form.

Cruise is exceptional. This franchise would crumble without him. Ving Rhames, who has been at Cruise's side for all six 'M:I' films, is a steadying presence once again. Simon Pegg provides his usual comic relief, and Henry Cavill steps in as a younger, stronger super-spy, to remind us that Cruise can't do this forever.

Overall, this is an exceptionally satisfying movie-going experience. It's one of the best films of the year and one that will stick with you well after leaving the theater.

(10/10)

Review "Stand Up Guys"

"Stand Up Guys" (2012)

After serving 28 years in prison for accidentally killing the son of a crime boss, newly paroled gangster Val (Al Pacino) reunites with his former partners in crime, Doc (Christopher Walken) and Hirsch (Alan Arkin), for a night on the town. As the three men revisit old haunts, reflect on their glory days and try to make up for lost time, one wrestles with a terrible quandary: Doc has orders to kill Val, and time is running out for him to figure out a way out of his dilemma.

One the best of 2012.

The three main leads are reprising their stereotypes in this heart wrenching film.

Walken and Pacino break into a pharmacy and we can see Walken move as if to a rhythm as he searches the shelves for his fix. In another scene, he actually pulls off a move that is so subtle and beautiful that you want to hug this guy and tell him he's still the man.

Speaking of dancing, Pacino - who has been released from the cooler after twenty eight years - first overdoses on Viagra, wants to 'party' and eventually refreshes our memories from 'Scent of a Woman (1992)' as he sweet talks a lady (young enough to be his granddaughter) into dancing with him. That scene alone has the power to throw you off balance. It is ethereal to watch a man in need of a woman's touch relishing every moment of the little tango.

Arkin gets little screen presence but man, is it presence or what. I'm not revealing anything, just that it is a pretty cool scene with an end that symbolizes the dearth of good actors in Hollywood these days.

Walken and Pacino reminisce about old times and the plot (not saying a thing again), and these scenes are the heart of the movie. Two double- talking jive, east-enders from Brooklyn intentionally do not put in any tough guy macho talk. They're retired, they just wanna go home, have a drink and sleep.

It is a movie about Hollywood and its actors and how they age and eventually have to come to terms with the 'has been' tag.

It's a lovely movie with great acting and humor. The action set-pieces are blatantly tongue-in-cheek; showing the boss's henchmen what the real wise guys used to be like, back in the day.

When Pacino overdoses on Viagra and when the effect kicks in, this is what he says, 'Hoo ha! Mount Everest just moved into my pants.' Remember the 'hoo ha'?

I'll end this review with an exchange of dialogue that says it all about the movie:

Hirsch (Arkin): Hey, Val, it's like the old days, isn't it? Val (Pacino): No! It's better. Hirsch: Yeah! Why? Val: Because this time we can appreciate it. Hirsch: Yeah, that's why.

(9/10)

Review "The Village"

"The Village" (2004)

When the movie first came out, 'The Village' had a very misleading marketing campaign. A lot of people who were expecting it to be a horror movie, instead saw a suspenseful, romantic, beautiful, and a quiet character study about the fear of a community and trying to get rid of it. That's the reason why the majority didn't end up liking 'The Village' when it first came out. However, the other people (myself included) watched the movie with an open mind, and ended up enjoying it and call it as one of M. Night Shyamalan's most underrated movies to date.

Taking place in a small, quiet village in Pennsylvania in the 1890s, the village people had made a long-time pact about the creature that lives in the woods surrounding the village. The pact is: the village people stay out of the woods, while the creatures stay out of the village. Suddenly, the pact breaks when one of the villagers named Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), who requests to leave the village to get some medicine. One day, when he heads into and out of the woods for a little while, the entire community is faced with the challenge from the creature.

Joaquin Phoenix does a great performance as Lucius Hunt, the villager who requests to go through the woods to get some medicine. For her first movie she has acted in, Bryce Dallas Howard did amazing work as Ivy, the blind girl who has feelings for Lucius and having the ability to see colors around the people she's with. I hope Shyamalan will cast Bryce Dallas Howard in more of his future films because she's a great actress. Adrien Brody did quite well as Noah, the mentally challenged villager. William Hurt was good as one of the Elders of the village, who, along with the other Elders, has his own secret about the village.

Although this movie has a great supporting cast, the performances from Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson, and even Jesse Eisenburg, were either good or decent, but they didn't do that bad of performances.

I quite admired what Shyamalan did with 'The Village'. He makes it as sort of an artsy, atmospheric type-of movie, where every shot is like a painting. I liked some of the tension and the suspense (especially during the final act), and the atmosphere is quite haunting and eerie as well. I also enjoyed some of the symbolism scattered out and about. The music by James Newton Howard; not only is it some of the best music I'd ever heard in a movie, it's also one of my all-time favorite scores.

You must be thinking that I completely love 'The Village'. I do love it, right until the twist ending came. I'm not saying that this is the worst ending to a movie that I'd ever seen, but it didn't make me feel satisfied as it should have, and it wasn't even that shocking either. That's a real shame because M. Night Shyamalan had made three great movies and two of them having great twist endings that had the shock factor. While 'Signs' didn't necessarily had a twist at the end, but rather having it pay the suspense off, 'The Village' had a twist ending that didn't had the shock factor, but rather the "it-didn't-make-me-feel-all-that-satisfied" factor. Despite that, I love 'The Village'.

(8/10)