Sunday, August 31, 2014

Afterwords 2008


     Nathan has experienced professional success as a New York lawyer but his personal life has a void since he recently divorced his wife.  Claire is his only love but the death of their infant son was more than they could handle.  A mysterious doctor comes to see Nathan and he introduces himself as a “Messenger.”  Doctor Kay claims he can sense when people are about to die because he can see an aura of light surrounding them.  His job is to help them to put their lives in order before they pass.  Nathan becomes furious and he doesn’t believe a word of this rot!!  He has many tests to determine his physical health and they all come back as normal.  When Nathan was a child, a car hit him and he had the chance to move on or come back.
     This movie is based on a book that may give clearer and more sequential information.  It seems the flashback scenes only increase confusion and Malkovich doesn’t fully explain himself from beginning to end.  The viewer is left to fill in the blanks and rearrange the scenes to figure out what is really going on.  There are still unexplained mysteries due to the initiations of human understanding of death.  There are just a few scenes in French so this is easier than having to read everything in subtitles.  3* (This movie is OK)

104 min, Drama directed by Gilles Bourdos with Romain Duris, John Malkovich, Evangeline Lilly, Pascale Bussieres, Sara Waisglass, Reece Thompson, Bruno Verdoni, Joan Gregson, Mark Camacho.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.7* out of 5 with 17 reviews.
Special Note:  The DVD cover picture is misleading about summarizing this film.  There isn’t a gun between Malkovich and Lilly in the plot.  Duris, the main actor, is shown only on the back cover.  It also states that this is a fast paced thriller and that is wrong.  Not a thriller and not fast paced?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pompeii 2014


     This story is based on the destruction of Pompeii but there is a lot of fill in to have more of a story.  Milo saw his family killed along with many others when he was captured by a Roman.  He is now a gladiator, he must do battle in the arena and he knows he will be lucky to stay alive.   Atticus is also a gladiator who has become a champion in the arena.  Since he is a champion, they have promised that he will be free after the next battle.  Atticus wants to believe that this will happen but Milo has told him that this will never happen.  When he goes into the area, he sees he must battle many men to be free.  Even after both Milo and Atticus win the battle, the Roman Senator Corvus wants them put to death.  Corvus was also the leader of the Roman battalion that killed Milo's family.  Only the chants from the crowd to set them free allow Atticus to go free.  Corvus sends in a Roman soldier to eliminate Milo and he is, of course, the man who murdered Milo's family.  The reason for his death is because Milo has become friends with Cassia and the Senator is forcing Cassia to become his wife.  Everything begins to unravel when Mount Vesuvius has a tremendous eruption in AD 79. 
     There is a lot of action in the film but the story is weak with nothing new.  The action may be even better in 3D?  It does cause you to become like one of the spectators in the viewing area and the feeling remains when the power of the eruption rises to it's full display.  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

105 min, action directed by Paul W.S. Anderson with Kit Harington, Carrie-Ann Moss, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Joe Pingue.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 29% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 1/2*.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Best Offer 2013

The Best Offer

     Virgil Oldman is an older, esteemed, eccentric and genius art expert.  He is known all over the world for his knowledge of antiques and his work with high value auctions.  He receives several calls from Claire Ibbetson, she would like to discuss a very large collection of art and antiques left to her by her parents.  Claire is an agoraphobic recluse and she has not stepped out of her villa since she was a teen.  She refuses to meet with Virgil in person but he comes to see her many times.  Virgil enlists the aide of Robert, he is a restorer of mechanical devices with a shop nearby.  Virgil asks him to help in assembling unusual mechanical parts from a much earlier period that Virgil found in the villa.  He also seeks Robert’s advice on how to help Claire and begin to meet with her in person.
     There is a lot going on in the background of this film.  Virgil has been known to cheat clients by stating something is not authentic when it really is.  He works with Billy, his sidekick, to con bidders during the auctions.  During the entire film, you have the feeling he is conning and cheating Claire.  She is afraid of everyone but she begins to trust him.  There are some surprises in this film that I didn’t see coming and there were warning signs but I didn’t begin to add them up until later.  3* (This movie is OK)

131 min, Drama directed by Giuseppe Tornatore with Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland, Philip Jackson, Dermot Crowley, Kiruna Stamell, Liya Kebede, Caterina Capodilista.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 56% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Frankie & Alice 2010

Frankie & Alice - Extended Preview

     This film is inspired by the true story of a woman with multiple personalities in the 1970’s.  Frankie works as a dancer and she has a psychotic episode that causes her to hit a man and walk out into a street full of traffic.  The police come, they think she is on drugs and they take her to the station.  She is admitted for a hospital evaluation, Dr. Oz begins to treat her and he is very surprised to learn that Frankie has three personalities.  There is Frankie, Alice and a seven-year-old child named Genius.  Frankie doesn’t know about the other personalities.  Alice is not African American like Frankie and she is a real southern belle and racist.  Genius knows both Frankie and Alice plus she knows that Alice hurts Frankie. 
     I wondered why Berry would take this type of role until more time goes by in the film and you see the complexity of the role.  I didn't originally know that the film was held up for release.  Chandra Wilson has a role on Grey's Anatomy but her part is small in this film.  3* (This movie is OK)  

101 min, Biography directed by Geoffrey Sax with Halle Berry, Stellan Skarsgard, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson, Alex Diakun, Joanne Baron, Brian Markinson, Matt Frewer, Roasalyn Coleman, Sean Tyson.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 21% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, 4.4* out of 5* on Amazon.
Special Note:  This film was completed in 2008, premièred at Cannes in May 2010, was shelved for three years and not released until 2013. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hail Mary 1985

Hail Mary

     The French title is Je vous salue, Marie.  This film is the retelling of the story of the Virgin birth with Mary and Joseph in a modern setting.  Mary is a student also working at her father’s gas station and she plays basketball.  Joseph has dropped out of school and he drives a cab for a living.  There is a side story about Eva and her boyfriend, their relationship and their discussions about philosophy. 
     There isn’t much about this film that isn’t ridiculous!!  Everything is unemotional and impassive.   There are many scenes of the earth, sun, moon, sky, water and vegetation.  The best actor is the dog.  2* (I didn’t like this movie) 

107 min, Drama directed by Jean-Luc Godard with Myriem Roussel, Thierry Rode, Phillippe Lacoste, Manon Andersen, Malachi Jara Kohan, Juliette Binoche.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 70% critic 62% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Evert 1 ½*.
Special Note:  There was a lot of controversy at the release of this film, it was determined to be blasphemy and denounced by the Catholic Church.  All of the films made by Godard in the 1980’s were innovative but not necessarily good in that they portrayed images as more important than the story.  Hail Mary, Detective, Passion, Prenon: Carmen and King Lear are all abstract and free-form.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Double 2011

The Double

     A US Senator with business ties to Russia is mysteriously murdered.  The manner of his death resembles the method used by a thought to be dead Russian assassin.  To try to solve this case, a retired CIA operative is teamed with a young FBI agent.  Paul Shepherdson spent a lot of his career chasing down Cassius.  This is a code name and they don’t know his real name.  Ben Geary has studied Cassius and written a Master’s thesis about the killer.
     There are two disclosures in this film, the first one happens in less than an hour into the film.  I was surprised at the reveal and also the short about of time into the movie.  The main focus is the young FBI agent versus the seasoned CIA operative.  Which one knows the truth?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

98 min, Action directed by Michael Brandt with Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Martin Sheen, Tamer Hassan, Stephen Moyer, Chris Marquette, Odette Annable, Stand Katic, Yuri Sardarov, Ivan Fedorov, Ed Kelly.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 20% critic 34% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note:  Michael Brandt the director and writer Derek Haas also worked together on 3:10 to Yuma.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Frances 1982


     This film is based on a true story.  Frances Farmer could not help being a rebel.  She became an actress between the 1930’s-1940’s and she turned her back on what the studio wanted her to do.  She didn’t want to participate in publicity stunts and she wants to have a say in her roles.  She marries because the studio said not to and that doesn’t work out.  She leaves Hollywood for Broadway and she feels this is where she belongs until she learns they want to exploit her popularity with fans to bring in customers.  She tries to restart her movie career but the studio would like to punish her for turning her back on them.  She becomes dependent on alcohol, drugs and buckles under the pressure of her mother to resume her career.  She is placed in a mental hospital and everything starts to go downhill.
     It is surprising how much Frances endured in her life and most of it is because of her mother.  Wasn’t her mother supposed to love her daughter and take care of her instead of trying to live vicariously through her success?   A lot of tough scenes!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

140 min, Drama directed by Graeme Clifford with Jessica Lange, Kim Stanley, Sam Shepard, Bart Burns, Jonathan Banks, Bonnie Bartlett, Jordan Charney, Donald Craig.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 93% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight 2014

     Wei Ling Soo is a Chinese magician and he is the most famous conjuror of his time, which is 1928.  Few people know that Stanley Crawford is the man behind the stage persona.  Howard Burkan is Stanley’s friend and he is also a magician.  He persuades Stanley to come to the South of France to disprove the work of a young spiritualist.  He arrives at the mansion of the wealthy American Carledge family situated in Cote d'Azur.  Stanley claims to be British businessman Taplinger ready to fully inspect the methods of Sophie Baker and her mother.  Grace, her son Brice and daughter Caroline Carledge are anxiously awaiting a séance that will attempt to contact their late husband/father.
     I really liked the cars and the costumes of the period for both the men and the women.  The scenery of the area is very inviting.  Everyone is impeccably dressed with beautifully styled hair, jewelry and fully embracing the flapper style.  There is a dilemma for Sophie Baker and a choice to make, should she follow the money?  4* (I really liked this movie)

97 min, Comedy directed by Woody Allen with Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Catherine McCormack, Eileen Atkins, Erica Leehsen, Jeremy Shamos, Hamish Linklater.
Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 48% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 1947

Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (1947)

     This film was adapted from a 1939 short story by James Thurber.  It takes place in New York and Walter Mitty is a proofreader for pulp fiction at the Pierce Publishing House.  His lives with his mother, she has many things she wants Walter to do for her and he’s continually making lists.  He usually does not get anything done correctly.  His fiancée and her mother plus his best friend Tubby Wadsworth have little respect for Walter.  Daydreaming is a continual pastime for Walter and this causes him a lot of problems.  He becomes involved in a real mystery when he meets Rosalind von Hoorn.  She is being followed and they become involved with a dangerous ring of international spies.
     The cars from this period are beautiful.  Everything was build to be the size of a small whale.  There are many taxicabs painted different colors for each company.  Some of the antics in the day dreaming sequences are overlong.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

110 min, Comedy directed by Norman Z. McLeod with Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, Virginia Mayo, Fay Bainter, Ann Rutherford, Thurston Hall, Gordon Jones, Florence Bates, Regenalt Denny.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 83% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4* with 1,793 reviews.
Special Note:  There is a 2013 movie with the same name starring Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig.  This film involves a daydreamer but also a global journey.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gambit 2012


     Harry Deane works in London for a very abusive and rude boss.  Harry is an expert in fine art and he’s thought up a scheme for revenge against his boss.  His friend the Major will paint a fake Monet painting, they will recruit a woman from Texas to claim the painting has been hanging in her trailer since she was a small girl.  She is supposed to be related to American Sgt. Brian “Bulldog” Puznowski who recovered the painting from German Officer Hermann Goring at the end of WWII in 1945.
      There are a lot of twists in this film.  Firth, Diaz and Courtenay do a good job in their roles and Rickman could not get much more annoying.  Circumstances cause changes in their plan as they go along but there is a bigger change at the end.  3* (This movie is OK)

89 min, Comedy directed by Michael Hoffman with Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Mike Noble, Alex Macqueen, Cloris Leachman, Stanley Tucci, Pip Torrens.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 18% critic 23% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3* with 54 reviews.
Special Note:  Joel and Ethan Coen wrote the screenplay for this film which is a remake of the 1966 film of the same name with Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

3 Days to Kill 2014

3 Days to Kill

     Ethan Renner works for the CIA and he has been involved in many international missions.  He has kept distance from his wife and daughter to keep them safe but he’s ready to let this job go.  He goes to Paris to visit with Christine and Zooey but he is recruited by Vivi to finish what he started with a ruthless terrorist and his companions.
     There is a lot of “over kill” in this film but plenty of action.  There are many car chases, explosions, broken glass, shootings, and torture.  Some comedy is also thrown in with torture taking place at the same time as advice on parenting teenage daughters?  Costner deserves better but he rises above all the excess and turns his character into someone believable.  It's nice to see the scenery in Paris.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

117 min, Action directed by McG with Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, Tomas Lemarquid, Richard Sammel, Marc Andreoni, Bruno Ricci, Jonas Bloquet, Eriq Ebouaney, Joakhim Sigue.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 29% critic 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Capital 2012


      The CEO of Phenix Bank, one the largest French financial institutions, collapses while playing golf.  Everyone is very worried about him and also who will replace him.  The selection of Marc Tourneuil is made, some are for and some are against this choice.  Many feel he will just be a stand in and the original CEO will guide the bank from the sidelines.  A maze of ambition, power struggles, greed, deception, distractions and adversaries become a constant threat to the bank.  Marc’s wife would like for him to quit this job, teach instead and how much money do they really need?  They have a teenage son more interested in video games than family.  Everyone wants something from Marc. 
     I kept wondering if this was really a farce and not the financial thriller it claims to be?  It seems only the music knows this is a thriller?  What doesn’t help this idea is that Elmaleh usually does comedies?  Many times I wanted to turn this off because the money talk is dry, boring and when is the comedy coming?  2* (I didn’t like this movie, everything seems fake and it’s not worth the time to read the subtitles)
114 min, Drama directed by Costa-Gavras with Gad Elmaleh, Gabriel Byrne, Liya Kebede, Celine Sallette, Natacha Regnier, Hippolyte Girardot.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 55% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rob the Mob 2014

Rob the Mob

     This film is based on a true story.  The setting is New York City in 1991.  Tommy and Rosie rob a florist on Valentine’s Day and they receive prison sentences.  Rosie gets out first and she gets a job at a debt collection company.  She gets Tommy a job when he gets out.  Their boss specializes in hiring people who have made mistakes.  Tommy isn’t as happy in the job as Rosie is.  He starts skipping the work to sit in on the trial of Mafia hit man Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.  What he learns in the trial starts to give Tommy ideas.  When they get their paychecks, they don’t have enough money for their bills and Tommy tells Rosie his idea.  They are going to a private club owned by the Mafia and they are going to rob the men.  They leave with a pillowcase of money and jewelry.  Their plan seems like a good one except for the group they are dealing with.  The mob can’t contact the police but they have other ways to take care of problems. 
     Rosie and Tommy are treated like Bonnie and Clyde in this film.  I didn’t think this would be worth watching but it is better than I thought.  There is one thing you can count on, if you become involved with the FBI or the CIA, they have a tendency to throw you under the bus.  It’s just part of doing business!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

104 min, Crime directed by Raymond De Felitta with Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, Griffin Dunne, Michael Rispoli.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 83% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Deep Blue Sea 2011

The Deep Blue Sea

     This film is based on a 1952 play written by Terence Rattigan.  Hester Collyer is the wife of a judge in post-War England.  Her mother-in-law doesn’t miss a chance to dig at Hester on their every visit to her home.  Sir William Collyer doesn’t stand up to his mother over her ridicule of Hester but he coddles his mother instead.  Hester meets Freddie Page, he is a former Royal Air Force pilot and they fall in love.  William accidently hears Hester talking to Freddie on the phone and she leaves William to live with Freddie. 
     There is still a lot of damage to the buildings from the wartime bombs but people in England still hold to their principles of civilized living.  Hester has chosen to live outside of their norm and she doesn’t have a safety net since she doesn’t have money or a job.  The time span for this drama is just one day and it is 10 months after she begins her life with Freddie.  When a person throws aside their sense of self and all of their pride, it makes it easier for other people to treat them badly.  Hester becomes so needy that Freddie would rather play golf and drink than see her sad face.  Hester needs to find out who she really is and what she wants out of her life without depending on anyone else.  This is the second time I've seen this film and I think it seemed much better this time.  3* (This movie is OK)

98 min, Drama directed by Terence Davies with Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Ann Mitchell, Karl Johnson, Simon Russell Beale, Harry Hadden-Paton, Sarah Kants, Jolyon Coy, Barbara Jefford.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 79% critic 52% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  Tim Hiddleston played Loki in Thor: The Dark World.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Woman in the Fifth 2011

The Woman in the Fifth

     The French title is La femme du Verme .  Tom Ricks is an American writer arriving in Paris to try to reenter the lives of his wife and daughter.  His wife slams the door in his face and calls the police.  He quickly gets on a bus and he falls asleep.  At the end of the bus line, the driver wakes him up, he discovers his suitcase and most of his money are stolen.  He is in a barren industrial area of Paris but he finds a bar where he can order coffee with the last of his change.  He talks to the owner about staying in one of the rooms but he can’t pay right now.  The owner agrees and later gives him a strange job with an eight-hour shift.  He locks himself in a small room and determines if a visitor should be let in to see Mr. Monde.  He meets Ania at the bar and he meets Margit at a gathering for writers.
     There is a lot going on here that and we have questions but there are no answers?  Who is Mr. Monde, who are his visitors, is this an illegal or dangerous situation, Tom has a published novel but has no money or support system, what happened between Tom and his wife, why is he not allowed to see his daughter, Tom has a chance to write during his job shift but instead of working on a novel he writes long letters to his daughter.  Maybe the questions are more intriguing than the answers could ever be.  This film has a different conclusion than I expected which asks the viewer to set aside questions of impossibility?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

85 min, Drama directed by Pawel Pawlikowski with Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas, Joanna Kulig, Samir Guesmi, Delphine Chuillot, Julie Papillon.

Note:  Imdb 5.1 out of 10, 63% critic 22% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  There is a wide variance in the review numbers for this film.  It must be a matter of taste or belief in the ending?  I don’t want to spoil watching this film by offering too much information.  Also, the neighborhoods of Paris are designated by numbers and in French they are called arondissements.  As indicated by the title, the woman lives in the fifth which would be the cinquieme arondissement. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Burn 2012


     This film portrays one year on the front Lines of the battle to save Detroit.  Detroit Michigan has seen a dramatic rise in building fires because there many abandoned properties.  Many people have left the city due to the scarcity of jobs.  The Detroit Fire Department Engine Company 50 on the east side is facing a multitude of problems.  Their equipment is old needing repair, they don’t have the new equipment they need, the firefighters haven’t had a raise in years, there hasn’t been any new hiring and they are over their budget.  A new plan is established that any burning building that is not occupied will be left to burn.  Why risk lives fighting something derelict?  First they determine that no one is inside the building and then they look at the surroundings to see if any other property is in danger.  Then they let it burn.  The Detroit firefighters have a different strategy in place for fighting fires too.  They go inside the structure and fight from the inside out.
     The starting salary for a firefighter is $30,000 and many of the firefighters take on other jobs to be able to take care of their families.  A new fire engine can cost about $700,000 that the city doesn’t have.  The population has declined from 1.85 million in 1950 to 700,000 in 2012.  There are over 80,000 vacant structures and the schedule for tearing them down is 3,000 per year.  There is an average of 30 fires a day with more fires in the summer.  This film could’ve been dark and depressing but it’s filled with interesting information and insight into the lives of the men.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

86 min, Doc directed by Tom Putnam, Brenna Sanchez with Donald Austin, Brendan Doogie Milewski, Craig Dougherty, Terrell Hardaway, Dennis Hunter, Dave Miller, Chris Palm, Dave Parnell, Jeff Shea, Jeff Urbas.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 100% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 93 reviews)