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HITCHCOCK

11 Apr

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“Although he never won an Academy Award, in 1979 the American film Institute awarded him their life time achievement award.”

SYNOPSIS: HITCHCOCK is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife and partner Alma Reville. The film takes place during the making of Hitchcock’s seminal movie Psycho.

CAST
Anthony Hopkins……………………..Alfred Hitchcock
Helen Mirren………………………………Alma Reville
Scarlett Johansson……………………………Janet Leigh
Toni Collette………………………………………Peggy
Danny Huston……………………..……..Whitfield Cook
Jessica Biel……………………………………Vera Miles
Michael Stuhlbarg………………………Lew Wasserman
James D’Arcy……………………………Anthony Perkins
Michael Wincott………………………………….Ed Gein
Kurtwood Smith……………………….Geoffrey Shurlock
Richard Portnow…………………………Barney Balaban

Review: Directed by Sacha Gervasi; written by John J. McLaughlin, and based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello, the film is a biopic that takes place during the filming of Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The story opens with Hitchcock narrating the events surrounding the arrest of Ed Gein, a real serial killer whom the book Psycho is written. When Hitchcock’s newest picture “North by Northwest” is released it becomes a major success for Paramount studios. Hitchcock is obligated to make one more film for Paramount, Hitchcock wants it to be Psycho. Barney Balaban head of Paramount protests as does Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville. From here on in the story surrounds itself with Hitchcock’s obsessions. The film looks at his loving yet sexless marriage with Alma, realistically played by Helen Mirren. She is delightful and droll and in life is also his writing partner. Alma puts up with Hitchcock’s obsessions with getting Psycho made, and his obsessions with the beautiful blonde leading ladies he has procured over the years as a filmmaker.

Anthony Hopkins is an interesting choice to play “Hitch”. It is easy for an actor to cross the line and make Hitchcock a cartoon; Hopkins captures the essence of Hitchcock’s public persona without going over the line into caricature. Hopkins navigates Hitchcock’s obsession such as his obsession with his blonde leading ladies, his almost paranoid suspicion about his wife Alma’s friendship with writer, Whitfield Cook, and the delusions he has of serial killer Ed Gein as he dreams day and night that Gein is controlling his every action. All his delusions come to a head when he is filming the famous shower scene with Janet Leigh. Hitch berates the stand-in for not stabbing Leigh in a realistic manner; her reactions are superficial not real. As the cameras are rolling, Hitch takes the knife and in a terrifying manner goes after Leigh. She is genuinely terrified as he goes at her with the knife. Hitch is having mental delusions about his wife cheating on him, his obsession with Vera Miles, and the dead bodies found in Ed Gein’s home before his arrest. When Hitch snaps out of it, he prints the take and everything is back to normal. Also quite amazing is a scene at the theater where Psycho premiers. Hitch is under enormous pressure for the film to be a success, he stands to lose everything. Hitch arranged with theater owners around the country not to let anyone in the theater after the movie starts and not to give away the ending. As the now famous eee,eee,eee, shower music is playing, Hitch is standing outside in the lobby conducting the screams he hears, like an orchestra conductor. Needless to say the movie was a huge success.

Helen Mirren plays Alma Reville, Hitch’s wife and writing partner. Alma both loves and reviles Hitch and his obsessions. She becomes close with the writer Whitfield Cook and agrees to help him write a screenplay based on a story he wrote. Hitch keeps ignoring Alma as she asks Hitch to read the story and make a movie out of it. As Alma and Whit get closer, Hitch obsesses with the notion that his wife has taken a lover, after all they sleep in separate beds, have a sexless marriage, and Alma to tune him out wears a mask over her eyes when she goes to bed. As time goes on Hitch becomes more paranoid about the relationship and eats and drinks obsessively. Mirron plays the part with patience, tolerance and understanding.

Scarlett Johansson takes on Janet Leigh. Although physically she is no Janet Leigh, Johansson captures Leigh in subtle ways, the way she walks, the way she speaks, her charm etc. Leigh and Vera Miles become friendly on the set, Miles warns Leigh about the falling out she had with Hitch. Alma is worried that Hitch will obsess about Leigh, Leigh proves her wrong and Alma appreciates Leigh’s professional behavior.

Danny Huston plays the writer Whitfield “Whit” Cook, he befriends Alma, and hopes she will help his career by having Hitch make a movie from a story he wrote. Hitch will have none of it, although Hitch at times tries to placate Alma. Whit in truth is a scoundrel and although he flirts with Alma, she manages to keep him at bay. Their friendship ends when she catches Whit, who is married, fooling around with a young lady when he was supposed to be working on the script. Alma would retreat into working with Whit as an escape from Hitch. Huston does a good job although he has little to do.

James D’Arcy brings Anthony Perkins to life with all his nuance and neurosis. Although the role is small D’Arcy’s Perkins is right on the money.

There are many homage’s to Hitch, such as the device of him narrating the story like he did on his television show, or at the end when he tells us he looking for his next film to direct, a big black crow, ala The Birds, lands on his shoulders. The film was well done with a great cast. Ivan (Animal House) Reitman produced, so you know there was a little tongue in cheek throughout.

The movie is available on Netflix, Amazon and Redbox

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The Intouchables (Gamount) (DVD)

3 Apr

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“Every so often a film is written that pulls at your heartstrings and brings both a smile and tears to your eyes as we watch the human condition unfold.”

Synopsis:  The Intouchables’ tells the true story of a wealthy, physically disabled risk taker, Phillipe, the picture of established French nobility, who lost his wife in an accident and whose world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humored, black Muslim ex-con, Driss as his caretaker. Their bond proves the power and omniscience that love and friendship can hold over all social and economic differences. The Intouchables depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humor between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.

CAST

Francois Cluzet………………………………………Phillipe

Omar Sy……………………………………………………Driss

Alba Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi…………………………..Elisa

Audrey Fleurot……………………………………..Magalie

Clotilde Mollet……………………………………….Marcelle

Cyril Mendy…………………………………………….Adama

Anna Le Ny……………………………………………..Yvonne

Alba Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi……………………………..Elisa

Christian Ameri………………………………………… Albert

Grégoire Oestermann…………………………………Antoine

Marie-Laure Descoureaux……………………………Chantal

Absa Dialou Toure……………………………………….. Mina

Salimata Kamate………………………………………….Fatou

Review: Released in the U.K. as Untouchable, the film since its’ initial release has become one of the highest grossing films ever in France. Written and directed by, Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano the film tells the true story of  two people whose lives intertwine in an unlikely way.

The story  told entirely in flashback, starts At night in Paris, Driss is driving Philippe’s Maserati Quattroporte at high speed. They are soon chased by the police: when they are caught, Driss, unfazed, doubles his bet with Philippe, convinced they can get an escort. In order to get away with his speeding, Driss claims the quadriplegic Philippe must be urgently driven to the emergency room; Philippe pretends to have a stroke and the fooled police officers eventually escort them to the hospital. As the police leave them at the hospital, Philippe asks what will they do now, to which Driss answers: “Now let me take care of it.” as they drive off.

Through friendship, humor and respect the two, Phillipe a French millionaire, quadriplegic, who through tragic circumstances loses his wife. and Driss, black, Muslim,  ex-con, form a life-long bond. Phillipe, with the help of his assistant Magalie, looking for a  live-in caretaker, meets Driss, a candidate, has no ambitions to get hired. He is just there to get a signature showing he was interviewed and rejected in order to continue to receive his welfare benefits. He is extremely casual and shamelessly flirts with Magalie. He is told to come back the next morning to get his signed letter. Driss goes back to the tiny flat that he shares with his extended family in a bleak Parisian suburb. His aunt, exasperated from not hearing from him for six months, orders him to leave the flat. when Driss comes back to the next day Phillipe for his paper, he finds he has been hired on a trial basis.

He learns the extent of Philippe’s disability and then accompanies Philippe in every moment of his life, discovering with astonishment a completely different lifestyle. A friend of Philippe’s reveals Driss’s criminal record which includes six months in jail for robbery. Philippe states he does not care about Driss’s past because he is the only one that does not treat him with pity or compassion, but as an equal. He says he will not fire him as long as he does his current job properly.

Over time, Driss and Philippe become closer. Driss dutifully takes care of his boss, who frequently suffers from phantom pain. Philippe discloses to Driss that he became disabled following a paragliding accident and that his wife died without bearing children. Gradually, Philippe is led by Driss to put some order in his private life, including being more strict with his adopted daughter Elisa, who behaves like a spoiled child with the staff. Driss discovers art, opera, and even takes up painting. For Philippe’s birthday, a private concert of classical music is performed in his living room. At first very reluctant, Driss is led by Philippe to listen more carefully to the music and opens up to Philippe’s music. Driss then plays the music he likes to Philippe (Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire), which opens up everybody in the room to dance.

Driss discovers that Philippe has a purely letter writting relationship with a woman called Eléonore, who lives in Dunkirk. Driss encourages him to meet her but Philippe fears her reaction when she discovers his disability. Driss eventually convinces Philippe to talk to Eléonore on the phone. Philippe agrees with Driss to send a photo of him in a wheelchair to her, but he hesitates and asks his aide, Yvonne, to send a picture of him as he was before his accident. A date between Eléonore and Philippe is agreed. At the last minute Philippe is too scared to meet Eléonore and leaves with Yvonne before Eléonore arrives. Philippe then calls Driss and invites him to travel with him in his private jet for a paragliding weekend. Philippe gives Driss an envelope containing 11,000 euros, the amount he was able to get for Driss’s painting, which he sold to one of his friends by saying it was from an up-and-coming artist.

Adama, Driss’s younger cousin, who is in trouble with a gang, takes refuge in Philippe’s mansion. Driss opens up to Philippe about his family and his past in Senegal, where his then-childless aunt and uncle adopted him from his real parents, and brought him back to France. His adoptive parents later began having children of their own, his uncle died and his aunt bore still more children. Philippe recognizes Driss’s need to be supportive to his family and releases him from his job, suggesting he “may not want to push a wheelchair all his life”.

Driss returns to his suburbs, joining his friends, and manages to help his younger cousin. Due to his new professional experience, he lands a job in a transport company. In the meantime Philippe has hired caregivers to replace Driss, but he isn’t happy with any of them. His morale is very low and he stops taking care of himself. Yvonne becomes worried and contacts Driss, who arrives and decides to drive Philippe in the Maserati, which brings the story back to the first scene of the film, the police chase. After they have eluded the police, Driss takes Philippe straight to the seaside. Upon shaving and dressing elegantly, Philippe and Driss arrive at a Cabourg, restaurant with a great ocean view. Driss suddenly leaves the table and says good luck to Philippe for his lunch date. Philippe does not understand, but a few seconds later, Eléonore arrives. Emotionally touched, Philippe looks through the window and sees Driss outside, smiling at him. Driss bids Philippe farewell and walks away.

Every so often a film is written that pulls at your heartstrings and brings both a smile and tears to your eyes as we watch the human condition unfold. This is such a film. The performances by Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy register in their faces the love and respect they have for each other. Cluzet can only emote through his face due to his character’s condition, for any actor this is difficult enough, Cluzet is brilliant. Omar Sy gives us a sense of humanity through his humor and light touch, you become drawn to these two likeable characters and get taken along for the ride.

There are some who feel that there is in fact an American Buddy Movie formula going on here, I didn’t feel that as the film progressed. Some have compared the racial differences to Driving Miss Daisy , I find in both cases this is not the case. You can become too critical at times and not just enjoy the story which is based on real events. The film is uplifting and soars with human connection.  The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2012.

The film is available on DVD, at Netflix, Amazon and Red-Box.

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Quartet

23 Feb

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Synopsis: Directed by Dustin Hoffman in his directorial debut, set at a retirement home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.

Cast

Maggie Smith……………………………………………Jean Horton

Tom Courtenay………………………………………Reginald Paget

Billy Connelly……………………………………………..Wilf Bond

Pauline Collins……………………………………….Cissy Robson

Michael Gambon………………………………Cedric Livingston.

Sheridan Smith……………………………………..Dr. Lucy Cogan

Andrew Sachs………………………………………Bobby Swanson

Gwyneth Jones………………………………………..Anne Langley

Review: Quartet is a story that is set in an retirement home for aging musicians, on the English country side. The story revolves around two central plot points, one being the annual retirement home fund raising concert, the other being the arrival of Opera star Jean Horton played deliciously by Maggie Smith.

 The cast is rounded out by brilliant English actors, each bring their own eccentricities to the roles they play. As Jean Horton arrives Cedric, played by Michael Gambon, an actor remembered as Dumbledore in most of the Harry Potter movies, is directing the gala event. He decides, she and Reginald, (Tom Courtney), Wilf, (Billy Connelly), and Cissy, (Pauline Collins), should recreate their famous Quartet from Rigoletto.

 Complications set in when we find out that Jean and Reginald where once married. Reginald wants nothing to do with Jean and retreats. Wilf plays mediator between the two, and has all the crass and funny lines. Maggie Smith has all the droll understated lines and her comebacks (see Downton Abbey) are swift and deadly. Smith is an international treasure, she shines in everything she does.

 Pauline Collins has the task of making her character Cissy, a little dotty in the head, obviously very forgetful, perhaps early Alzheimer’s, and she navigates through it all with a sense of irony and comedy. Collins remains indelible as the main character in the film Shirley Valentine, here she is just as delightful.

 Comedian Billy Connelly as Wilf, is a crass womanizing retired Opera star. His comic timing plays counterpoint to Smith’s dry wit. He delivers a multi-layered performance and brings a sparkle to an otherwise dry screenplay. If you are unfamiliar with Connelly, their is plenty of  him and his stand-up on You-Tube. In Scotland, his home of origin. he is known as the Big Yen. There is more on him at http://www.billyconnelly.com.

 Tom Courtney, who first appeared in Dr. Zhivago so many years ago, plays Reginald as a deeply wounded individual. Jane had left him when they were married and hardly said goodbye. The two together Smith and Courtenay, play against each other with compassion. Reginald’s distrust of Jane is juxtaposed with his feelings of love for her, this is where Cortnenay shines.

Michael Gambon as Cedric, puts up with all the backstage drama so that he ultimately gets what he wants. His transition from lack of patience to restraint is apparent. It appears that everyone but the the four leads bend over backwards to make Cedric happy. He delights in the gala more than anyone else involved. Gambon is fun to watch, especially at the times when his plans seem to get foiled.

 The film is is light and plays like a classic chamber comedy. Hoffman chose wisely his directorial debut. The film might appeal to the older demographic and certainly to the those who enjoyed The Marigold Hotel.

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Moonrise Kingdom (DVD)

2 Jan

Synopsis: In this Golden Globe Nominated quirky comedy, set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore — and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl.

Cast:

Jared Gilman………………..Sam Shakusky

Kara Hayward….………………Suzy Bishop

Bruce Willis………………….Captain Sharp

Edward Norton…Scout Master Randy Ward

Bill Murray……………………..Walt Bishop

Frances McDormand…………..Laura Bishop

Tilda Swinton….……………..Social Services

Jason Schwartzman………………Cousin Ben

Harvey Keitel…………….Commander Pierce

Bob Balaban…………………………Narrator

Seamus Dave Fitzpatrick…………..Roosevelt

Review:  Wes Anderson has dreamed up a ficticious Island that is inhabited by a quirkey bunch of offbeat characters. It is 1965, a twelve year old Khaki Scout Sam Shakusky, (Jared Gilman) leaves his scout camp and wonders off to find his true love Suzy Bishop, (Kara Hayward). The two of them go AWOL and this leaves the entire Island in an uproar. Captain Sharp, (Bruce Willis) and Scout Master Randy Ward, (Edward Norton) go on a search to find them. Everyone is worried about Suzy because Sam is an orphan so therefore he is mentaly disturbed. This is a given in the small minds of the community. Sam has trouble making friends as does Suzy and that is there bond.

The color of the film is reminiscent of old 1960’s home movie color, this gives the film its’ character and other-worldy appearance. Narrator, (Bob Balaban) is the Island’s historian and cartoghrapher. He tells the story as a flashback, including an inside reference to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters. Balaban is standing in front of the police station as Suzy’s parents, Khaki Scouts and Master are arguing over where the children ran off to. Balaban interupts them by saying, “Excuse me, excuse me!”  They all turn around, ‘I teach cartography and Sam was in my class, I know exactly where they went.” Shades of Close Encounters.

Tilda Swinton plays “Social Sevices” and wants to take Sam to an institution, Harvey Keitel plays Khaki Scout Commander Pierce and his portrayal of self importance is hilarious. Bill Murry plays Walt Bishop, Suzy’s dad. Murry has a sadness in the way he approaches his characters, it his perhaps his weariness that his wife Laura, (Frances McDormand) is unhappy and has been having secret meetings with Captain Sharp, (Willis).  He is understated and empathetic, his performance is the direct opposite of his manic characters he played on SNL. He has without a doubt matured as a actor. He was always brilliant this portrayal is no exception. Edward Norton as the scout Master is played with tongue firmly impanted in cheek. Norton, in short, was terrific in the role.

The best cinema takes you away into flights of fancy, interesting story telling, compelling images and most of all human emotion. This film does all those things and makes you laugh along the way. I enjoyed its’ sense of humor and style. Thank you Wes Anderson for this delightful adventure with a nod to childhood.

The film now nominated for the Golden Globe’s  Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical, is available on Netflix, at the RedBox or for purchase on Amazon.

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Robot and Frank

12 Oct

Synopsis: Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.

Cast

Frank Langella……………………………………Frank

Susan Sarandon………………………………Jennifer

Liv Tyler………………………………………..Madison

James Marsden…………………………………Hunter

Peter Saarsgard………………………..Robot (voice)

Jeremy Sisto……………………………………..Sheriff

Jeremy Strong………………………………………Jake

Review: Jake Schieier directed this charming film using speculative fiction as his story telling device. For those uninitiated, speculative fiction takes what we already know exists in science and speculates what it would be like in the near future. Sort of not quite sci-fi but closer to scientific reality when applied.

The story centers around ex-cat burglar Frank, (Langella) who lives alone in his house, in a small suburban community. It is apparent he is beginning to lose his short term memory. His daily routine consists of going to the local library where he has a friendship with the librarian, Jennifer (Sarandon) then going to a local nick-knack store and swiping small things like soap shaped like a cat.

His son Hunter (Marsden) tolerates his father’s behavior but can’t let his father live alone. Hunter is particularly alarmed when Frank doesn’t remember him or his daughter Madison (Tyler). To remedy the situation Hunter, against his father’s wishes brings him a companion Robot. The Robot is specifically designed to challenge Frank’s mental abilities, keep Frank active in a positive way and cook Frank’s meals.  In short Hunter had the robot programmed to keep Frank out of trouble. The Robot even starts a vegetable garden in the backyard of the house.

We learn along the way Frank was indeed a convicted and did jail time on burglary charges. When Frank finds out a wealthy entrepreneur, Jake wants to convert the library into an interactive community space with no books just computers, he decides to start cat-burgling once again. He trains the Robot to help him case the rich Jake’s house in hopes of stealing a valuable diamond necklace owned by Jake’s wife. The Robot at first won’t comply, but sly Frank convinces the Robot that a burglary will be good to stimulate his mental faculties. The Robot acquiesces and the two of them go on a caper. The Robot/Frank bonding begins when Frank trains the Robot how to pick locks and avoid alarms.

We watch with a knowing smile as the relationship between Frank and the Robot turns to respect and friendship. When Frank’s daughter Madison suddenly appears to take care of Frank, she is against Robot technology, her shutting down the Robot causes Frank to freak-out as the heist date draws near.  When after some sly outmaneuvering by Frank, Robot gets turned back on and the heist goes as planned.

You wonder how far gone Frank really is when Jake and the town sheriff come to question him about the heist and the goods can’t be found in the house. The Robot shows the human sign of self-sacrifice when he suggests that Frank erases his memory so the police can’t access his memory of the heist.

The story is funny, heartwarming, quirky and a winner. Speculative fiction aside this is a fun movie with a great cast. Langella really knows how to maneuver between loss of memory and slyness. His performance was wonderful to watch.

Recommended:  

Hope Springs

9 Aug

Synopsis:  After 30 years of marriage housewife Kay, (Meryl Streep) pays for a marriage counseling retreat  in Maine to save her mundane marriage with her emotionally detached husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).

Cast

Meryl Streep………………………………………………………………………………..Kay

Tommy Lee Jones…………………………………………………………………….Arnold

Steve Carell……………………………………………………………………………Dr. Feld

Jean Smart……………………………………………………………..Eileen, Kay’s friend

Ben Rappaport……………………………………………………………….Brad, their son

Marin Ireland……………………………………………………….Molly, their daughter

Brett Rice……………………………………………………………Vince, Arnold’s friend

Becky Ann Baker……………………………………………………….Cora, the waitress

Review: Hope Springs, the name of a small town in Maine, is really a metaphor for the famous quote “Hope Springs Eternal”. In the town is a therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) who helps married couples rekindled their marriages after the flame has long burned out in their relationships.

Kay, a housewife, and husband Arnold have been married for thirty years, for years now they have slept in separate bedrooms, have the same daily routine of Kay devotedly cooking bacon and fried eggs for Arnold’s breakfast before he commutes to work and watches Arnold fall asleep while watching golf tips on ESPN. This is Tommy Lee Jones’ movie and he gives a remarkable performance as an emotionally detached husband who is comfortable with his detachment and mundane routine in his life.  Arnold is so out of touch he really doesn’t acknowledge how hard Kay is working to make him find her attractive again. When he does acknowledge her he usually talks about himself, golf or his day at the office.  Kay, so devoted,  just listens or agrees with any decision Arnold makes.

Streep, who is a national treasure, plays Kay as a woman whose dogged devotion turns to desperation until she finally takes matters into her own hands. She finds a self help book written by Dr. Feld about how to save your marriage and decides to book a week of intensive marriage counseling with the doctor in Hope Springs, Maine. Needless to say Arnold does not want to go at all but finally gives in when he realizes Kay will go anyway with or without him.

Steve Carell plays the soft spoken doctor with patience and becomes the perfect straight-man to Tommy Lee Jones’ comical yet sometimes angry remarks and self realizations. It is here the character study of the emotionless Arnold takes off and we begin to wonder how much is he really trying to understand his wife or how much he is just placating her. Jones brilliantly navigates from being self conscious and angry to trying to resolve his true feelings for Kay. The sexual innuendo and  comic sensibilities of the story ring true as  does the depiction of long term relationships. This is truly a film aimed at the rest of us who are not in the typical teen to twenties demographic.

If you enjoy well told small stories about people, relationships and life go see this film. Like the film, Marigold Hotel, it is a story about people who seek to improve or change their current circumstances making this an interesting, fun and satisfying movie going experience. I highly recommend you and your “significant other”  take a visit to Hope Springs especially to see Tommy Lee Jones give this outstanding Oscar worthy performance.

Recommended: 

Men In Black 3

31 May

Synopsis: Agent J (Will Smith) travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K(Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin) and changing history.

Cast:

Will Smith ….. Agent J

Tommy Lee Jones …… Agent K

Josh Brolin ……..Young Agent K

Jemaine Clement …… ‘Boris the Animal’

Michael Stuhlbarg …… ‘Griffin’

Emma Thompson …… ‘Agent O’

Mike Colter …… ‘Colonel’

Nicole Scherzinger  …… ‘Boris’ Girlfriend’

Alice Eve …… ‘Young Agent O’

David Rasche  …… ‘Agent X’

Michael Chernus  …… ‘Jeffrey Price’

Bill Hader  …… ‘Andy Warhol’

Review:  Right off the bat I will tell you MIB3 is as good if not better than MIB1. The time traveling sub-plot, Josh Brolin’s outstanding spot on version of a young Tommy Lee Jones coupled with Will Smith’s off the cuff Agent J make this an enjoyable entertainment.  Barry Sonnenfeld is also back aboard as director and he vindicated himself with this one after the disastrous MIB2. In case you forgot MIB2 the first sequel, don’t feel bad it was a forgettable film. I am also happy that Rip Torn is not involved in this project, he wore out his cantankerous one note acting in  the last one.

One of the joys of watching actors having fun was watching Emma Thompson as O the head of the super secret MIB organization. She did a wonderful job up against Will Smith’s, agent J. Notably the time traveling method used by Agent J involves jumping off the ledge of the Chrysler building, as he attempts to save the life of his partner Agent K from being assassinated by an alien in the 1960’s. Another great stunt involves the first Apollo moon attempt, a machine that will save mankind must be placed on the capsule before take-off and then escaping through an emergency exit before anyone gets caught. They also kept the memory eraser device from the previous 2 films, an arsenal of fancy laser guns and of course this time Rick Baker out did himself with the myriad of aliens he designed.

The script is polished, funny and ironic, so do you need to see the 3D version? No, the film stands up fine without it. So for a fun entertaining outing at the cinema I say go for it.

Recommended

The Dictator

25 May

Synopsis: The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.  This fish out of water story tells the tale of Haffaz Alladeen who has been the dictator of the oil-rich African nation of Wadiya for 40 years. Alladeen is as egotistical and ruthless as dictators come, executing anyone who disagrees with him by using his signature “head chop” signal. Alladeen is summoned by the UN to address their concerns about his nuclear program. A subplot involves him being kidnapped by Clayton  a hitman hired by his traitorous uncle Tamir . Tamir then replaces Aladeen with a decoy named Efawadh, who he can manipulate into signing a document democratizing Wadiya and opening the oil rich country for business. Aladeen escapes, but his beard has been shaved off by Clayton, making him practically unrecognizable. He encounters activist Zoey who offers him a job at her alternative lifestyle co-op. Aladeen refuses the offer and travels to New York’s “Little Wadiya”, populated by refugees from his country, where he encounters Nadal , the former chief of Wadiya’s nuclear weapons program, whom Aladeen thought he had previously had executed. Peppered with caustic and controversial humor the film follows Aladeen as he tries to regain power.

Cast:

Sasha Baron Cohen: as Admiral General Aladeen and his impostor Efawadh

Ben Kingsley: as Tamir, Aladeen’s uncle

Jason Manzoukas: as nadal

Ann Faris: as Zoey

John C. Reilly:  as Clayton

B.J. Novack

Chris Elliot as Mr. Ogden

Fred Armisen as Death to Aladeen Restaurant waiter

Cameos:

Megan Fox: as herself

Edward Norton: as himself

J.B. Smoove: as Funeral Usher

Chris Parnell: as ABN News anchor

Asif Mandvi: as Wadiyan doctor

Rizwan Manji: as Wadiyan patient

Horatio Sanz: as aide on balcony.

Review: Sacha Baron Cohen has once again teamed up with director Larry Charles (Borat/Bruno) and both have delivered a funny and controversial albeit more mainstream story to tell. Inspired by the book Zabibah and the King by Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein, Cohen takes on a journey through the world of a narcissistic, mad Islamic dictator, Admiral, General Aladeen of the pseudo middle eastern country of  Wadiya. He does things like have sex with Megan Fox, who sleeps with him as a booty call but won’t commit to a real relationship, crowns himself best actor/film-star in the country and wins all the country’s sporting events by shooting the competition, what a guy. It is Cohen’s commitment to character that makes this movie so hilarious. Cohen tends to find his characters from the inside out and makes them so real you believe this chameleon is the genuine article. Cohen is so committed to his character in fact you might remember the stunt he pulled at the 2012 Academy awards spilling the ashes of Dictator Kim Jong ii onto Ryan Seacrest.

Ben Kingsley portrays his Uncle Tamir who wants to democratize Wadiya and sell its’ oil for profit. He does a wonderful job as does a terrific supporting cast. Ann Faris plays Zoey the love interest and holds up well as the foil for all the anti-women slurs Aladeen throws at her. The entire film is a reflection of the world situation and Cohen who also wrote the screenplay deserves kudos for having the nerve to dish up this Islamic, Terrorist Dictator with humor and intelligence.

The cameos are well done and add an element of who will show up next. This is certainly worthy of Sacha Baron Cohen’s inspired lunacy.

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