Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Past Movie Review: An Innocent Man

Back in the mid 80's the actor Tom Selleck was just about the hottest celebrity on Television with the success of the TV Series Magnum PI . Everybody thought that he should easily be able to parlay that success into being a huge movie star, even after he supposedly turned down the starring role in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" which came out in 1981. After some failed attempts at being a movie actor with movie such as Lasiter and Runaway Selleck finally got the movie role of a lifetime with An Innocent Man , which came out in 1989. This great movie is a story about an innocent man who works as a repairman for Jet Aircraft and one day inside his own house he is mistaken for a drug dealer and then shot because he is holding a hair dryer. After this, the criminal and corrupt police officers frame him and stage a shooting, making it look like he shot at the police officers with an illegal gun he had in his possession as he lay wounded on the floor of his bathroom unconscious . What follows is years in prison and the attempts of his wife, played by Laila Robbins to get him out and dealing with the corrupt two cops who framed her husband.

In all my years of movie going I have never seen a movie more realistic in terms of the nightmare of being in prison  with animals when you have done nothing wrong. This movie also depicts the very harsh reality of the rules of prison which include the drugs, gang rape and murder which as commonplace as getting coffee in the outside world.  Selleck's character in this movie, Jimmie Rainwood soon finds out that survival and the laws of the outside world do not apply inside a low level prison.  Within the first few weeks of Rainwood's illegal incarceration, he finds out that he has to "stand up and take care of business", which means murdering the head of a black gang in order to avoid being as they all called it "someones kid". Rainwood is schooled on what to do and how to take care of business in prison by a prisoner who befriends him named Virgil Cane played expertly by F. Murray Abraham in what I consider one of this best roles. Their friendship and interaction during this movie is the best part of the whole story and they both were incarcerated by the same two corrupt police officers. After Cane instructs Rainwood and expertly organizes the plan to take care of business and kill the head of the black gang and what follows is an incredible scene in a large bathroom and a shiv with about as much drama and tension as I have ever seen in any movie. This one scene and the events leading up to it maintain a level of tension that is similar and maybe even exeeds the movie Heat which came out in 1995. This is what movies are all about and when they work this well they should be recognized. In my opinion, this movie with this gritty realism, tension, injustice and revenge is one of the best movies ever made and is largely unrecognized.

The last part of this movie is about Rainwood getting out of prison and then revenge against the two police officers who ruined his life that is one of the best conclusions to a movie I have ever seen. Revenge is always sweet and in the case of these two dirty criminal lowlife police officers, the revenge in this movie is one of the best final scenes of "getting even" ever produced. Many people would rather die than go to prison for any length of time, most especially if they are innocent and after seeing this movie you would definitely rather die than go through what Rainwood went through in this story. This movie also makes you think about all the people in this country unjustly imprisoned perhaps even for the same reason of corrupt police officers and this fact just adds to the believably of this story. There are several lines in this movie that stand up and are still memorable to this day; "you ain't got to stand tall in here but you sure better stand up!" and F. Murray Abraham's line when he started to teach Rainwood the way of the world in prison "Its simple in here, anybody fucks with me and its their life" and his final line at the very end of this movie, "Aint life a motherfucker".

If you have never seen An Innocent Man, you owe it to yourself to see it as it is quite simply a great movie.



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An Innocent Man - IMDB

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Movie Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

The first Big Fat Greek Wedding came out in 2002, and when it was released it was funny and unusual and provided some insight into Greek culture. During the last 14 years there has always been talk of a sequel to this movie and now its finally been released. With this much time to think of ideas and write a script you would think that the sequel to the original would consist of a better story, ideas and perhaps something that was close to as funny as the first movie. After sitting through these latest 2 hours of my movie going career, this version seemed like it was better as a TV soap opera rather than a widely released movie. I for one was surprised at both the number of people in the audience and the fact that nobody laughed even once during this entire movie. 14 years of time to think of some good idea and there is no good script here and nothing really funny or memorable. Some bean counter at a production company in Hollywood calculated what it would cost to put this movie out at the lowest possible cost against the guaranteed audience based on the first movie and as a result we have 2 hours of boredom and overall a pretty bad experience.

Miss this movie unless you are a huge fan of the first one and if you are, you will still be rather disappointed.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Friday, March 25, 2016

Movie Review: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

The concept of Superman started in 1938 and was published by DC comics. Perhaps its acceptable within a comic strip to have a character wearing a cape and a woman's red underwear who can fly in the air because he is an alien from another planet, but when this story was told with real life human characters then the story has to be upgraded and improved. First of all, the idiotic idea of a human being or alien who looks like a human being - putting on a pair of glasses and from the glasses alone totally disguising himself is absurd and always has been absurd. Why do we all buy into something this stupid? With all the movie special effects we have had for over 30 years and given that Superman is alien with special powers why cant his glasses disguise be more sophisticated and when he puts on the glasses his face and body mutates into making him look completely different? This improvement in the story would greatly improve the believably of the entire concept and is just plain common sense, but it will probably never be done.

The other absurdity is the cape, which is completely unnecessary. Bernoulli's principle has to do with lift and the shape of an airfoil and the presence of a flapping fabric cape would give no additional flying ability to Superman or for that matter any flying superhero including Batman who has no need for a cape because Batman cannot even fly.

As far as the red woman's underpants issue, this has been fixed in this latest Superman movie and the new outfit is one-piece, blue and looks far more masculine than some of the previous ridiculous superman outfits of the past. The Batman outfit is also far better now as well and much better than the Batman TV series where the actor wore black underpants and tights, which was another ridiculous and embarrassing outfit.

As far as this movie, "Batman vs Superman", overall if your a big fan of Marvel action movies there are some very good special effects. If you are fan of a great story and screenwriting then this movie falls short on many levels. This movie is very much like other huge action movies recently; as they are almost as if there are totally different directors involved, or perhaps too many hands on the pot and as an end result there is no flow to the story and the plot seems disconnected and at certain points hard to follow. The entire idea of Lex Luthor pitting Superman and Batman against each other within this twisted elaborate and overly complicated plot is somewhat ridiculous and one had to think while sitting through this over 2 hour movie that there just had to be a much easier way of getting these two superhero's to fight. The idea of Batman ever having any chance of defeating superman in any fair fight is also very absurd even with the use of Kryptonite which was used in this movie. The end of this movie was impressive with Wonder Woman joining in the fight against a Lex Luthor generated Krypton alien but these final action scenes are nothing more than what we have all seen before many times.

Both Ben Afleck and Henry Cavill are effective as Batman and Superman and the fight scene in this movie was well done as far as the special effects even though it was not believable.

See this movie if you are a fan of Marvel action superhero movies, but do not see it if you appreciate a well told and interesting story that makes sense.

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Batman vs Superman - IMDB

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Movie Review: The Divergent Series: Alegiant

This is the 3rd movie in the series of tween books written by Veronica Roth, the first two being Divergent and Insurgent. For the life of me I will never understand why this boring futuristic end of the world series of bad movies is so popular among young people. There is a 4th movie, hopefully the last of this series is coming out in 2017 and is called Ascendant although there does not seem to be a corresponding book written by Roth by that title that I was able to find on Amazon.The cast of this movie is about the same as the previous 2 movies with the excellent actress Shailene Woodley as the star.

I assume that the entire message of this series of books is that categorizing people into certain types is both not fair and wrong for everybody. Nobody would disagree with the message here but you just wish that the story and the movies that have been created from this idea were a whole lot better. For me once these two wasteful hours of your life begins you cannot wait until its all over. The story is all over the place, the concepts are stupid and the special effects are at best average, so once again I asked myself during this ordeal, why is all this so popular? I have heard the real idea about this series of movies is about bullying which as we all know is a very big problem with young people today. Given this premise I wished once again than a better idea than this one would have gained popularity.

As with the previous two movies in this series, I do not recommend this movie.

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The Divergent Series Alliegiant - IMDB

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Movie Review: Hello My Name is Doris

This really is the first movie that Sally Field has made as an old woman, with the possible exception of the movie Lincoln where she played Mary Todd Lincoln some years ago. Sally will be 70 this year and she looks good for her age overall and has had a career to be very proud of, including 2 academy Awards for Norma Ray in 1979 and Places in the Heart in 1984.

Like most women in Hollywood over age 40 or 50, the great parts are few and far between which is an unfortunate reality of choosing a life in Show Business. This movie was made for only around 1 million dollars and I was overall pretty impressed with the quality of this very low budget story. Some of this movie was pretty funny and other parts about a 70 year old woman infatuated by a man who was 35 years younger were pretty sad because as it turns out it was all mostly just a series of misunderstandings on her part. Doris also loses her mother at the start of the movie, was never married and is a hoarder living in a disastrous house. We also find out that she probably never got married because she had to take care of her mother.

As always Field's acting was outstanding and the remaining cast, which included Tyne Daly was also quite impressive as well.

This is a good and entertaining movie and I do recommend it.

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Hello, My Name is Doris - IMDB

Movie Review: Miracles From Heaven

If this were not a true story then this movie would not have been believable at all and would seem more like a Disney Wizard of OZ type of a movie.

One could argue that the trailers for this movie tell the viewer all he/she needs to know about the whole story which is about a girl who is terminally ill and then falls out of a tree and somehow by some miracle is cured. What the trailer does not tell you is the great acting of Jennifer Garner and the story of what a family already in financial trouble has to go through to pay for the insane medical bills that can ruin lives and are in many cases medical tragedies that can be completely futile attempts to save the life of a child. Despite knowing the happy ending in advance, this story was told very well and was tragically effective at depicting the insanity of the medical world in present day United States. An additional side story in this movie was about another girl with terminal cancer and her situation was equally as tragic as the main character in this movie.

One part of this that really stood out was that the parents of the young girl played extremely well by Kylie Rogers would have had to wait a full 9 months to even see a specialist for the rare intestinal disease their daughter had were it not for the persistence of her mother. Clearly the child would never have lived long enough to see this specialist were it not for another miracle of a helpful medical receptionist who begged the doctor to see this child before it was too late. What also brings great emotion in this movie are the adorable face and eyes of the young girl who plays the main role in this movie during some of the medical procedures which at times are hard to watch.

The additional story with Queen Latifah befriending the mother and young girl during their trip to see the specialist in Boston seemed more like an afterthought and overall I thought did not fit well in this movie. One had to think that the story as it probably stood originally did not create a movie that was close to 2 hours long so this extra side story was added.

This movie challenges the existence of God in several scenes in this movie, especially by the girls mother played by Garner and the scenes that stands out the most are the stupid comments by some of the neighbors of the family with the ill child, actually questioning the sins of the parents and even the young girl in their attempt to understand why the young girl got this horrible medical affliction in the first place and was not yet healed. I for one was hoping for a more extreme reaction from the mother after hearing the cruel comments from her fellow parishioners in the church they all attend.

Other scenes that stand out are the callous and egomaniacal attitudes of the doctors who for a long period of time could not figure out and correctly diagnose the illness of the young girl, constantly thinking that her problems were minor and would go away on their own. One young doctor in an emergency room was particularly rude to the girls mother requiring the mother to take extreme action to figure out what was wrong with her daughter.

Of course the financial nightmare of going through something like this are unfortunately a major part of the story, and one has to wonder why the father of 3 daughters would put his family in great financial jeopardy by taking a huge second mortgage on their house for his business before the discovery of his middle daughter's illness.

Miracles from Heaven may be another tearjerker, but it was an extremely well made one and a very good family picture as well. I highly recommend this movie.

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Miracles from Heaven - IMDB

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Past Movie Review: Raging Bull

When Raging Bull came out in 1980, I remember it was one of the first films I had ever seen that was purposely made in black and white other than Woody Allen's Manhattan which came out in 1979.

You realize very early on while watching this classic movie that due to the gritty depressing nature of the film, making it in black and white was definitely the right choice. After seeing this movie we all learned what Robert De Niro went through to make it, which included gaining and losing 60 pounds and getting into the shape of a world class middle weight boxer. There was no way De Niro was not going to win for best actor in 1980 and one could argue that his performance in this movie might be considered the greatest of all time, given his acting and the physical and athletic achievement in making this movie. This is a must see for anyone who appreciates a great movie and an outstanding acting performance.






Raging Bull IMDB

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Past Movie Review: The Imitation Game

I was reminded recently of how great a movie "The Imitation Game" was when it came out in January 2015. This is the story of Alan Turing who is considered to be the inventor of the modern day computer. Turing's incredible genius saved 2 years of the World War 2 and 14 million lives when he invented a machine that broke what was called ENIGMA, which was the machine that encrypted the German communication codes. The number of combinations this machine created was 159,000,000,000,000,000,000 and decoding it was considered at the time almost impossible. This movie is great because of how well the process of building this decoding machine was explained and the breakthroughs that eventually lead to the best way to figure out every single German code and the combination changes that happened every day. Its incredible to realize that Germany and all their evil and murdering of so many innocent people during World War 2 would possess scientists so brilliant to invent a machine like this and so many of the best weapons of war including almost the Atom Bomb. More amazing to realize is that in order to save lives during a horrible war the most important invention in human history, the computer was invented. The insanity of war most unbelievably has created many of the greatest inventions in human history, including the science of medicine. This could be the greatest irony of all.

Another great story within this great movie is that once you have broken the code using this decoding machine, how often can you use it as to not alert the Germans that you have figured out their ENIGMA machine? This one idea creates the best scene in this movie where they all the scientists working on the decoding machine realize that the machine cannot be used that often and only by using mathematical formulas and statistics can they win the war while at the same time not alerting the Germans that the British had broken the code.

The downside of this story is how Alan Turing was treated after the war by England because he was gay and for many years because of this he never received the credit for his invaluable accomplishments during World War 2. I will not spoil the movie by elaborating more on this issue. Only until the year 2013 did the Queen of England finally give Alan Turing the credit he deserved for his incredible accomplishments during World War 2. For me for something like this to take so long is the biggest tragedy of this movie.

Both Keira Knightly and Bennedict Cumberbatch were outstanding in their roles in this movie as was the entire rest of the cast.


I highly recommend The Imitation Game.




Saturday, March 12, 2016

Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

This movie is very loosely based on the movie Cloverfield which came out in 2008. Unlike the original Cloverfield which was a science fiction movie involving aliens, 90% of this movie takes place in a bomb shelter where the owner of the shelter played by John Goodman has taken in a young woman played by Mary Winstead whom he was in a car accident with at the start of the movie. After this, almost the entire movie was scene after scene of her trying to escape from the shelter, talking with another young man who is in the shelter with them, playing board games and finding out that the character played by Goodman may have killed another young woman in the shelter some time earlier. Why this other woman was killed or the circumstances of this possible murder was never explained in the movie which I considered to be another flaw amount several during the 2 hours.

The payoff of this movie is to finally find out if they are in fact in a shelter for a real reason, trying to avoid the aliens who have attacked the earth or protect themselves from the poison air which supposedly the aliens have used to kill humanity or if the Goodman character is just insane and kidnapping two young people for his own insane enjoyment. Unfortunately these are not compelling enough reasons including the special effects in the last 10% of the movie to recommend it. For these reasons I cannot recommend this movie.

10 Cloverfield Lane - IMDB

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Movie Review: The Brothers Grimsby

Is being extremely disgusting and raunchy ever funny? In my experience this is rare in terms of something that could be considered comedy or generally funny to most people. A possible exception to this rule would be perhaps a great comedian like the late Sam Kineson who was frequently raunchy and at times disgusting, but his delivery, timing and comedic genius was normally enough to create something that at first might shock you, but later you would realize that what he said or did was so outrageous that all you can do is laugh.

On the other end of the scale, one has to wonder how or why Sacha Baron Cohen is able to make a new disgusting movie every 3 or so years. The theme of every movie that he creates is always the same: "do something so shocking and disgusting that people will talk about it, be curious and go see the movie". This is essentially the only reason why I saw this amazing piece of garbage today, because I was curious about what he would do next and I was also curious about this one very shocking and disgusting scene involving Elephants. While you are sitting through the horrible 90 minutes of this movie you start feeling like a real idiot that you spent the money to see something so stupid and bad and then you wonder about the Hollywood movie making process and how something this bad could ever be green-lighted in the first place by any producer. Perhaps Cohen has his own production company like Adam Sandler because its hard to imagine that any outside production company would ever approve of financing a movie this bad.

The saving grace of any comedy is if there are enough scenes with big enough laughs then perhaps the whole thing can somehow be salvaged, but in this movie nobody laughed in the audience, not even in the big payoff scene involving Elephants. So why was this movie made? How can a movie this bad be made in the first place? This reason should be studied by anyone who would ever be interested in writing or producing any movie in Hollywood. There is a level of insanity there, a level of craziness and outrage that none of us who would love to sell a screenplay will ever comprehend.

This movie is horrible, disgusting and about as bad or worse than all of the other movies Sacha Baron Cohen has made in the past. Do yourself and save your money and save 90 minutes of your life and miss this horrible mess, which will rank as one of the worst movies ever made.

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IMDB - The Brothers Grimsby

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Movie Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Anyone going to see this movie should know in advance that this is not a comedy just because Tina Fey is in it. This is Fey's first dramatic role and as an actor she does a good job overall. The problem is that this movie does not really have a story but just a series of events that happen to a reporter in Afghanistan. This movie reminds me of the recent Sandra Bullock movie "Our Brand is Crisis", which also co-stars Billy Bob Thornton about a political operative in a South American country who is trying to get some politician elected. This movie also had no real story and only a series of disconnected and mostly boring scenes that lead nowhere. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is slightly better than Our Brand is Crisis but certainly not good enough to recommend. The dialogue in this movie was highly unusual in certain areas and seemed to jump around at times and make no sense. I was also very disappointed to see another very unnecessary smoking scene and the only good news there was there was only stupid smoking scene in this movie. Once again the producers of movies in Hollywood take money from tobacco companies to finance the production and this practice should be banned immediately.

This movie should have been about one thing. The insanity of allowing any reporter/civilian into any dangerous war zone just to report on a war. This stupid practice has killed hundreds of members of the press over the years and if any common sense existed within either the military or the press over the decades then this would have stopped probably after World War I. Members of the press have no business being in a war zone, putting themselves in harms way with no weapon and no training of any kind. With modern technology all we need is some cameras on some military equipment, a tank or an SUV and an email from a soldier out in the field and that would be more than enough "press coverage". In this movie Tina Fey's character jumps of SUV under attack just to make a video of some firefight with the enemy even though she was ordered to stay in the truck. One remembers the NBC reporter David Bloom who was killed in 2003 because he insisted on being on the front lines. The insanity of putting civilians in any war situation is ridiculous and should be stopped, but it probably never will be. Reporters out in the field not only put themselves in grave danger but also the soldiers that are trying to protect them. I for one do not need a reporter standing by a tank as bombs go off to understand or appreciate a story more. Ultimately this movie does show some of this danger and insanity but not nearly enough to recommend it as a significant movie.

I cannot recommend this movie because when your finished watching it, you wonder what was the point of the whole two hours in the first place.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - IMDB

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Movie Review: London Has Fallen

This is the first action movie that I can remember that reunites the entire cast from a previous version. Obviously the movie series "Pitch Perfect" is another example of an entire cast reuniting for another movie but "London is Falling" is unique in that this is an action movie and a very good one at that.

The prequel to this movie is Olympus has Fallen which came out in 2013 and was an outstanding story about a North Korean gang invading and taking over the White House. What is always not good about terrorist movies, and there have been many of them over the years, is that the last thing we ever want to do is to give any ideas to terrorist organizations in the world. London Has Fallen was very good, but both not as good as Olympus is Fallen and also not as good as I expected it would be. Too much of this movie is about the President trying to run away and hide from Terrorists who have invaded London and not enough of other more interesting action, which would have included the terrorists themselves or more of a story line which was too much of two men running for their lives. Gerard Butler is once again great at his role as a highly trained and very impressive secret service agent working directly for the President. Arron Eckart is also back as the President and he is also very good as reprising his role as the President of the Unites States. All the other minor characters are back as well as well as Morgan Freeman who is now the Vice President this time around.

This movie was very well done and worth seeing, I do recommend it but I was hoping it would be better.

London Has Fallen - IMDB



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