Friday, April 17, 2020

Room (2015) R - 4½ Stars

Here is a little movie that sounded interesting to watch. Its the story of a woman who has been trapped in a small one room shed for over 7 years. In this time she's had a child, a young boy she named Jack, who has never experienced anything outside of the 4 walls. His mother, has created their entire universe inside consisting of games, exercise, stories to tell all while confined to their small captive room. But things cant stay this way forever, Jack is growing up and as mom decides to enlighten his world with the tales of outside which just might be the scariest part of all.

The acting is superb and Brie Larson won the academy award in 2016 for her role along with a numerous list of other awards too long to list. Young Jacob Tremblay was excellent and so believable for such a tiny tot. I was amazed at just how well he adapted to this role. The movie will tug at your heartstrings watching the bond between mother and child in such a horrific situation.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay), wakes up each morning in a 10x10 room saying hello to everything inside of it. The sink, the refrigerator, the plant, even the toilet. His mother, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) has spent the last seven years locked in this shed raising her small son to the best of her ability. The shed consists of a TV with poor reception and when Jack and she watch it, she explains that everything in the box is make believe and not real as it's the only way to keep this inquisitive boy to his confinements. The two spend their endless days and nights drawing, telling stories and home schooling. The only other person Jack knows of is Old Nick (Sean Bridges), an old man that brings them food and other necessities. Old Nick comes at a specific time some Jack knows he must hide in the wardrobe cabinet until he leaves, never making contact with him.

Joy turns Jack's entire world on end when she decides he is old enough to help her escape from these walls. Now she must convince hi that everything he has taught him up to this point was a lie and there really is a world outside of the four walls. But the enormous outside world is just too scary for Jack
and Joy and with the help of grandma Nancy (Joan Allen) and grandpa Robert (William H. Macy) who can't even look at his innocent face, they must find a way to come together.

Element Pictures, Film 4
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Producers: David Gross, Ed Guiney
Writers: Emma Donoghue

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lost Girls (2020) R- 3 Stars

When it seems like police aren't doing nothing regarding the disappearance of Mari Gilbert's (Amy Ryan) daughter Shannan, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Based on a true story, "Lost Girls" enlightens viewers to the 12 murdered sex for hire hookers that went missing and no one seemed to care. The murderer became known as "LISK", the Long Island Serial Killer, but was't enough to keep these women off the streets.

Mari files a missing person report on the daughter she gave up at birth, but she feels Detective Richard Dormer (Gabriel Byrne), is not doing nearly enough to find her. Along with her other daughter, Sherre Gilbert (Thomasin McKenzie), Mari starts her own investigation learning of Shannan's last known whereabouts.  Joseph Brewer, living in a gated community of Long Island, was the last person to see her alive and Mari vows to not give up on her daughter for a second time, uncovering the field where the bodies were eventually discovered.

Langley Park Pictures Netflix
Director: Liz Garbus
Producer: Archer Gray
Writers: Robert Kolker, Michael Werwie

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Fall From Grace (2020) TVMA - 4 Stars

Gosh a lot of people didn't like this movie at all but I found myself wrapped up in it. Yes there are flaws like - Sarah and Grace are friends for 6 years but the new love relationship takes 42 days to set up - The baseball bat to the head and fall from stairs surely must have caused more damage - Jasmine's cop husband witnessed the woman jump from the roof but never makes any association while watching his wife prep for the case. However, the movie has enough strong acting for me to overlook the obvious flaws and get lost in the story line instead. The film focuses on the vulnerability of an older woman's yearning for love and attention.

Grace Waters (Crystal Fox), sits in jail for the murder of her husband Shannon (Mehcad Brooks). She will sign a plea bargain to save her from death row while keeping her son Malcom (Walter Fauntleroy), to take the stand in a trial or be involved with anything to do with her case.

DA Jasmine Bryant (Bresha Webb), shows up to have Grace sign the paperwork and be over and done with it. But after meeting Grace, Jasmine feels compelled to dig deeper into the case to free Grace of the charges against her. But when Jasmine calls Grace's best friends Sarah (Phylicia Rashad), to the stand, things take a turn for the worse.

Director: Tyler Perry
Writer: Tyler Perry

Friday, April 3, 2020

Rainman Sisters (2008) NR - 3½ Stars

You'll fall in love with this incredible set of identical twins who just happen to worship Dick Clark. Flo and Kay at age 52, are the worlds only set of identical autistic savant twins. Savant meaning "A person affected with autism who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music), unusual cognitive abilities, such as a photographic memory and excellent spatial skills." (Webster)

Flo and Kay are special with their extraordinary memories where they can name the day of the week for any date past or future. They can tell you what the weather was that particular day and what their favorite game show hosts we wearing. The girls has documented, in crayon, 30 plus years of color schemes their favorite stars were wearing on a particular day.
The girls have established routines in their brains that deviating anything upsets their world.Their lives are disrupted when the Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid was abruptly taken off the air. Flo and Kay would watch every night to keep track of how many buzzers and bells sounded as well as the archiving every questions and answers that was used. Brain scans show almost identical normal brain activity for both left and right parts of the brain.

Guber-Peters Company
Producer: Mark Johnson

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Spenser Confidential (2020) R - 3½ Stars

While this is not your typical comedy, it does offer up enough sarcasm and wit to keep you entertained. Action packed with a touch of violence, Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-cop that's been in prison for attempting to take a dirty cop down. Once released hell take on the Boston Police dept to confirm his hunch regarding corrupt cops. He vows to make things right and bring down the bad guys.

The day Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) gets out of prison, he's already been warned about what's waiting on the outside for him. He's just done time for assault on a Boston police officer. As it turns out Spenser, also an ex-officer himself, is not liked by a small handful of Boston's finest. His only friend is his ex trainer, Henry (Alan Arkin), who gives him a ride and offers him a place to stay. Along with a another boxer in the house, Hawk (Winston Duke), Spenser vows to not let the cops get away with it again.

Director: Peter Berg
Producers: Bill Bannerman,Eric Heffron,John Logan Pierson
Writers: Sean O'Keefe, Brian Helgeland

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Platform (2019) TVMA - 3½ Stars

This movie originally titled "El Hoyo", starts out like a train wreck, so very weird and wrong but you just can't look away. I instantly felt a familiarity to a similar style of filming like with the first Saw movie. Your first glimpse into this prison is watching a man wake in a poorly lit room where you can almost smelling the stench. There is no rhythm or reason as to why you are which sets up a psychological journey into your own mind of understanding the visual. "There are three kind of people in here. The ones above, the ones below, and the ones who fall." With not a large budget for special effects, the movie sends a huge message. You're instantly drawn in to feeling screwed as you watch human greed and selfishness at it's primeval finest.

Goreng, (Ivan Massagué) wakes up in a tiny small cement room known as "the pit." A vertical prison with two inmates per floor, and a slab of food is lowered per floor giving inmates a two minute window to grab food to eat. As the platform gets lower, less and less food is available for the starving people below. What will this do to Goreng's mind.

Director: Warner Bros Pictures
Writers: David Desola, Pedro Rivero
Producers: Raquel Perea, Carlos Juárez, David Matamoros, Elena Gozalo, Ángeles Hernández

Monday, March 9, 2020

Hot Fuzz (2007) R - 3½ Stars

If you are in need a of British comedy, try this one by the makers of Shaun of the Dead. It's an action packed cute comedy drama that stimulates a few of your senses. While it ridicules plots found in big budget action films, Hot Fuzz is a delight.

A London cop, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), is too good at what he does and he's making the other cops on the force look bad. He gets transferred to the small town of Sandford, Gloucestershire in hopes he can teach proper law technique here. His new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), has fantasized about what it would be like to see action in his town. Danny has watched way too many action packed movies and would like to get in on that action. Be careful for what you wish for Danny as this quiet town starts to see way too much action that even Danny are ready.

StudioCanal Rogue Pictures Working Title Films
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Natascha Wharton, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Producers: Tim Bevan, Nira Park, Eric Fellner

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007) R - 1½ Stars

I don't think this movie did a very good job of explaining why Lowe came back as dysfunctional as he did. Even though he keeps having flashbacks, I dunno, he just wasn't very convincing to me of someone who gave a crap about much.

Ted Cogan (Rob Lowe), is a captain in the National Guard who has just returned home from his duty in Iraq. He has trouble putting his life back in order, as he is continually haunted by visions of Iraq. These visions dramatically interrupt his life when he keeps replaying faces of the innocent bystanders accidentally killed by him in Iraq. After his son takes it out on an Arab looking local boy, Ted seeks the help of a psychic to try to regain control of his life.

Lions Gate Films
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Ernie Barbarash
Producers: Philip Stilman, Claire Welland

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Be Cool (2005) PG13 - 2½ Stars

This is definitely not one of Travolta's best. Though performances are solid from Travolta and Thurman, I just didn't feel connected with them or that they were trying to do the right thing. I connected with Linda Moon the most as she was the innocent victim and really all that mattered.

When close mobster friend Tommy Athens (James Woods), is murdered by the Russian mafia, Chili Palmer (John Travolta) takes over his business at a record label company. Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), was Tommy's girlfriend and the quickly warms up to Chili. Edie knows the business and between the two, the take a serious look at Linda Moon (Christina Milian). This young pretty singer has a voice and even though she is under contract with another record company, Chili wants to have her. Raji (Vince Vaughn), the owner of the other label is not willing to let her go. That doesn't stop Chili and she starts to preform for his company. But now Chili has everyone after him trying to keep him out of the business.

MGM Distribution
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Peter Steinfeld
Producers: Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Danny DeVito

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Mongol (2007) R - 4 Stars

I always grew up thinking Genghis Khan was an evil bad ruler of ancient Mongolia. Perhaps it was his name or my own lack of knowledge as to who he really was. He would go on to conquer Russia and good part of the world, in 1206. I'm not sure how much liberty the movie takes in actuality of events, but the film is visually stunning and captivating and why I am giving it such a high rating. It's also a great romantic epic. I don't think anyone can be completely accurate in recreating something from 1162, but perhaps it's changed my impression of how this ruler really was.

Filmed in China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan, the imagery is breathtaking. My only complaint of the movie is the way it cuts off and changes scenes and years so quickly before you realize what happened. Since the film is in Mongolian with English subtitles, at first it was hard for me to keep track of who was who. With all the horse back riding getaways, I almost wanted to label it a western. The acting is fantastic and it's based on the controversial writings of Russian historian Lev Gumilyov.

Born Chinggis Khaan in 1162, Temudgin was taken by his father to find a bride at age 9. Borte is a young girl of the village eyes Temudgin who will return to make her his bride at age 16. But life for Temudgin would be tragic when his father is killed in front of him and the Merkit's vow to return for Temudgin when he grows up. The family, now very poor, has no status in the valley and eventually they return for him.

Jamukha (Sun Hong-Lei), saves Temudgin from certain death and while he hides him, they two pledge with their blood to be brothers for ever. As the two grow older, they talk about becoming the next Khan of the people and both have different ideas of who that will be. Years later, Temudgin's (Esugei Tadanobu Asano), most important goal is to make his way back to the village to retrieve his bride Borte (Khulan Chuluun), who has been anxiously awaiting his arrival. The two return back to his village and mother, to be married.

Jamukha, now a Mongol chieftain and quickly obtaining the status of Khan will have to choose between his status, and his brother, while Temudgen quickly gains support of the Mongols who elevate him to greatness.

Director: Sergei Bodrov
Writers: Sergei Bodrov, Arif Aliyev
Producers: Anton Melnik, Sergei Bodrov, Sergei Selyanov

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Tropic Thunder (2008) R - 4 Stars

At first I didn't think I was really going to enjoy this movie as I thought it would turn out at yet another lamb attempt at laughter. However, the story line really took me by surprise and I thought it was not only a good comedy, but a good action / adventure film and everyone fit their roles. Great cast of names and RD Jr. is great in his role, Stiller made up for my let down of "Night at the Museum" and Cruise was funnier than I've usually seen him. Movie starts out great but fizzles out and gets a little cheesy towards the end Some pretty funny lines like RD Jr's, "I'm a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude." I recommend this funny poke at Hollywood and some of it's pompous actors.

It's been called a racist movie due to Robert Downey Jr.'s character. What about the movie, White Chicks, which I didn't think was near as funny, but I don't recall any mention of racism with that film... lighten up. I think we need to stop labeling things so precisely as it aids in keeping racial tension active. It's just a funny flick for EVERYONE, white, black and all alike.

Producer, Les Grossman (Tom Cruise), and director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), are making a film taking place in the jungles of the Vietnam war. Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), is a self proclaimed Vietnam vet and offers advice on where the direction of the movie should head. Production has slowed way down as the actors are too busy pampering their gi-normous egos, and don't take the filming seriously. Four Leaf suggests to Cockburn, the actors be taken to the middle of the jungle and filmed fighting their way back out. Cameras could be hidden throughout the trees, to give the film a more realistic "Gorilla style" look.

Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), is just a little to full of himself. As he constantly tries to direct the film, he extends the movie way past it's budget. Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), has gone to the controversial extent of dying his skin dark, in order to play the role of an African American soldier. Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), is the overweight comedian of the group, only thinking about where he will get his next fix, out in the middle of nowhere. Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson), great name btw, is the African American soldier that has to deal with Lazarus trying to think he's his "bro"and Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) is the slower one that everyone seems to pick on or look to as the man with any military training. Along with Damien and Four Leaf, the group are dropped off in the jungles of Vietnam, not knowing a secret drug production operation is lurking right next door.

As they all start to whine over their predicament, they realise, the sooner they continue through their scenes, the sooner they can get back to the set and go home. As they move along, with exaggerated Rambo techniques, each new trail leads them to a new scene of the movie. Even when the find stumble upon a heron production plant, thinking it's part of the movie, they ad lib through their lines. Next, the group of ego baring, misfitted, irritating actors must keep themselves from being killed by the bad guys so the can bring the film to it's end.

Red Hour Films, DreamWorks
Director: Ben Stiller
Writers: Etan Cohen, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller
Producers: Eric McLeod, Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld