Archive for the ‘MOVIES’ Category

“The Commuter”–movie review   Leave a comment

In ‘the good old days’ when they had double bills in the movie theatres consisting of 2 movies, a cartoon, a newsreel, coming attractions among other things “The Commuter” would be the B feature on the double bill.

“The Commuter” is a ‘popcorn film’ where you check your logic at the door, sit back in the auditorium chair, eat your popcorn or whatever you buy, enjoy and forget as you walk out the theatre.

Liam Nesson is our hero who can do no wrong and even lies for no reason by saying, in the movie, that he is 60 when in real life he is 65! Guess what? He is a commuter, which is shown in the first few minutes, married, has a kid and gets married after 10 years on a job and at one time had been a police officer.

When the movie settles down he is on his way home and after sitting in his chair and opening a book to read he is approached by Vera Farmiga with an offer he can’t refuse, as only happens in a movie. The logic goes out the air with the proposition just as we see Neeson in fights that would kill normal men while he just gets up and fights the next guy or does minor, compared to other, deeds like falling off a train and jumping back on!

Just recently Liam Neeson said he is too old to keep on making action movies but keep on he does and makes it look easy. I, personally, wish he would make a ‘serious drama’ like he used to now and then.

The cast has the usual suspects but anyone with crime movies will guess the villain before it hits the halfway mark. I have yet to see Vera Farmiga give a bad performance and though she is seen briefly on screen just hearing her voice for a lot of the screen time is intriguing. With a fine supporting cast on the train, Adam Nagaitis as conductor Jimmy offers needed humor.

Director of photography, Paul Cameron, along with director Jaume Collet-Serra, offers some dazzling camera work including a fight on the train that uses everything on hand along with arms, legs, train seats, windows, an ax, a gun, etc., constantly moving from train car to train car.

“The Commuter” is for Liam Nesson fans, crime/thriller fans, train fans, B movie fans and a film to see on a rainy day to forget whatever troubles you might have and giving your brain a rest!

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDshY43Ol2U

 

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Posted January 30, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

“The Post”–a movie review   Leave a comment

Steven Spielberg is such a fine director that he can make you sit on the edge of your seat for the answer to a question you already know. You lived through the exposure of the Pentagon Papers and the ruling of the Supreme Court—as most of the members in the audience did—yet as it comes closer and closer to the outcome you question yourself as to whether you remembered it right!

“The Post” shows that our current President wants to curtail what and which news reports on him, including what reporters, just as President Nixon did when, at first, the New York Times exposed the massive report on the Vietnam War and was challenged by him and brought to the court.

“The Post” tells the story of the Washington Post, whose owner Katherine Graham inherited the paper left to her husband by her father and she became the owner after the former committed suicide. The company is talking about going public and her decision to print the Pentagon Papers, started by the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a good friend of hers, could bring disgrace to him for continuing the indefensible war, she and her editor played by Tom Hanks could go to prison and the new shares of the company could be worthless.

There is a lot of exposition to be told but Spielberg, along with writers Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, keeps the movie going until the story takes over with the decisions Graham must make, the actual showing how a newspaper is put together from setting the type to getting the paper in bundles and delivered. There is very little time wasted in this 1 hour and 55-minute movie that doesn’t seem even that long!

From Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara, Bob Odenkirk as the Post’s managing editor Ben Bagdikian, Matthew Rhys as Daniel Ellsberg who  leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times  reporter, along with other actors like Tracy Letts, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Whitford, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon among others get their time/moments to shine.

Tom Hanks, as good as he is, fights the memorable Oscar-winning performance of Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in “All The President’s Men”. I am not particularly a fan of Meryl Streep as I always see her ‘acting’ but in this movie, she becomes Katherine Graham.

“The Post”, in spite of the story, the actors and writers, is a Steven Spielberg movie from beginning to end, who at 70 seems to still have not reached his height yet!

 

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlNDKG0CNQw

“Molly’s Game”–movie review   Leave a comment

(Possible spoilers.)

Watching “Molly’s Game” seems to be the same as listening to a ‘Talking Book’ with its almost wall to wall narration by Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom.

In Aaron Sorkin’s director’s debut, he makes the mistake of many first-timers not following sometimes less means more with this 2 hours and 20 minutes film. As the writer of the screenplay, as he is known for his rat-a-tat dialogue in his television scripts, the talk is fast but in film his characters are more stationary.

Jessica Chastain does a good job of showing how Molly Bloom became a tough, mostly unfeeling, woman when as a child her demanding father, played by Kevin Costner, training her for the U.S. Olympic Ski team, constantly tells her she isn’t good enough. Her two brothers are overachievers, just as her father is, so when she has a freak accident skiing in competition, ending her career, she looks to do something else, entertaining the idea of law school but, instead goes to Los Angeles. Taking jobs to support herself while living on a friend’s couch she eventually becomes an assistant to a man who runs an exclusive poker game for high rollers.

Molly soon moves to New York where she outsmarts her former boss and starts her own high stakes poker games having the rich and famous as her clients. She runs everything by the books legally besides offering the players more than other operations ever did in the way of luxurious snacks, drinks and comfort. Again there is nothing illegal about her operation such as though she has beautiful women working for her attending bar, being dealers, making the men as comfortable as they can they never exchange sex for money or anything else.

At one point, due to pressures of running 2-3 all-nighters a week, she starts taking drugs to get sleep and to stay awake which makes her sloppy and inadvertently gets mixed up with the Russian mob and gets caught by the FBI.

She seeks out Charlie Jaffey, played by Idris Elba, a sharp lawyer, to defend her and though he can get her a great deal with the Feds he isn’t able to convince her to name names. As she points out to him she didn’t name names in the book she had published for which, if she had, she could have gotten an advance of a million dollars instead of the thirty-five thousand she did get and she wouldn’t now.

The film is based on that book, “Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker.” In the film Molly comes across as a smart, forceful, sharp, hard as nails woman but, in only one scene, shows that she has any feelings and that is in a talk with her father who relates an incident that is never even hinted at before that talk. Men fall in love with her but she rebuffs them though she will offer help to men she sees ‘drowning’, in over their heads, becoming gambling addicts, giving cash and/or credit when needed but her feelings belong to only her.

 

Aaron Sorkin does keep the picture moving but too many times, talking/showing the poker games, has Molly saying too much, so rapidly that not only does it get monotonous it also becomes incomprehensible at times. There are one too many skiing scenes and, though touching, an unnecessary storyline regarding the lawyer and his daughter.

Jessica Chastain is being talked up as a Best Actress Oscar nominee, deservedly, as she really is the main reason to see “Molly’s Game” plus, if you are a fan of Sorkin’s writing, as I am.

 

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu4UPet8Nyc

“I, Tonya”–movie review   Leave a comment

Up to today I was all for Holly Hunter to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “The Big Sick” but now, hands down, Allison Janney owns it for her mean mother of all mothers in “I, Tonya”.

“I, Tonya” could have been an excellent movie but there are too many brutal shots of first Tonya Harding being abused physically and mentally by her mother and then too many of her husband physically abusing her. Two to three scenes would have gotten the message across but director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Steven Rogers not only have too many abusive scenes but spend too much time on a lot of scenes.

The movie is told from 4 different points of view and one is not sure who is telling the truth or lying. Though the main story revolves around Tonya Harding’s (Margot Robbie) training from the age of 3 to be an ice skater and then how much involved she was with the kneecapping of her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, to what made her become—to quote Tonya—‘the most hated woman in the world’ we also hear from the others who were part of her life.

LaVona Golden (Allison Janney), as Tonya’s mother, is really a despicable woman who, for the right or wrong reasons, spent every penny she made to make her daughter a star. LaVonna defends herself as trying to make her daughter tough and tries to warn her daughter against the man she will marry.

Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) as Tonya’s first boyfriend and then her husband and finally her ex has his own version of the story just as Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) her bodyguard thinks he masterminded the whole, what has become known as ‘the incident’, thing and, yet, is as dumb as they come!

At the beginning we meet Al Harding (Jason Davis), Tonya’s father, who teaches her how to kill and skin rabbits setting up the first half of the film leading to ‘the incident’. He leaves shortly after and we don’t see him anymore.

The only one who seems ‘normal’, who cares for Tonya, is her skating coach, Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson) who knows the American skating world wants a princess, who dresses right, has the right kind of family, isn’t assertive off the court and is wholesome in every way which certainly doesn’t describe Tonya.

Whether it is the screenwriter, director or Margot Robbie, by the end of the film we see this vilified woman who was really punished more than anyone else involved, as someone who may not deserve what happened to her.

Oddly, among all this violence, all these mostly nasty, some dumb, really dumb people there are a lot of laughs and one doesn’t feel guilty while they are laughing but after the movie is over you wonder if these people, the mother, husband, bodyguard and Tonya are people you should laugh at or sympathize with.

“I, Tonya” has some fine acting, especially Margot Robbie in the title role, and Allison Janney as her mother, but you wonder if this woman, who had few moments of joy and success in her life, deserved to be stripped of everything including the one thing she excelled at and lived for, and if she was guilty as many people thought? 

And, oh, just to have 20 minutes cut from this version.

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuDQOMICfr0

“Darkest Hour”–movie review   Leave a comment

This is a hard review to write because though Gary Oldman might give ‘the performance of the year’ along with winning an Oscar for his role in “Darkest Hour”, the movie itself is boring, too soon after the “Dunkirk” movie which this also deals with. “Dunkirk” deals with what went on in front of the camera and “Darkest Hour” concentrates on behind the scenes. Sort of remembering the outcome and having seen it just a few months ago are two different things.

Oldman’s makeup as Prime Minister Winston Churchill is masterful as he doesn’t resemble the man at all but he becomes the heavy drinking, heavy cigar smoking, and orator of the first order. He is faced not only with having to make a decision that will affect his country and its citizens but he is also facing the other powerful men in his government who are talking of making a peace deal with Hitler.

Oldman is surrounded by excellent actors like Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain, the previous Prime Minister, Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, Stephen Dillane as Foreign Secretary Halifax along with Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife and Lily James as his new secretary.

There is one scene of Churchill riding the tube, being recognized and talking to the people whose fate he must decide which is fun and moving from the beginning to the end. It, also, leads up to one of his most famous speeches “We shall fight” that, after all these years, is as moving as delivered by Oldman as it was delivered by Churchill himself.

The directing, screenwriting, photography and music are a little slipshod taking away from many of the scenes but the performance by Gary Oldman holds the film together and makes “Darkest Hour” worth seeing.

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtJ60u7SUSw

My Pick Best Movies/Actors 2017 & some bad movies   Leave a comment

Movies and actors best 2017 collage

I saw 92 movies—in theatres—during 2017 and while most aren’t worth the time and money the few that are worth both make up for them. To me a ‘good’ movie is one that I enjoyed while an excellent one is a film that I would want to see again. Some films move me and that is easy to do, some have excellent performances and the ones that do both are the ones that I will see again.

I believe movies should be seen for the first time on a theatre screen for which they are made for, not on a television screen whether it be on network or cable stations or streaming or from a DVD. There is a big difference between a 30 to 80-foot wide screen and a 70-inch television set!

For those who are movie fans like I am I suggest you look into moviepass.com as for the next 11 months (I hope they last that long) I will be seeing 1-2 movies a week every week completely free.

Here, in no particular order, are the films that I rated good and/or excellent in 2017:

Big Sick

3 Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water

Coco

Elle

A United Kingdom

Paris Can Wait

BPM

Maudie

Detroit

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Only the Brave

Wonder

The Greatest Show

The Mountain Between Us

Wonderstruck

 

Best performances—again in no order—of 2017:

Jacob Tremblay & Julia Roberts  in Wonder

Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde

Sam Elliot in The Hero

Harry Dean Stanton in Lucky

Michael Stuhlbarg in “Call Me By Your Name”

Sally Hawkins in both Maudie and The Shape of Water

Michael Shannon & Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water

Francis McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell in 3 Billboards outside  Ebbing, Missouri

Holly Hunter in The Big Sick

Laurie Metcalf in LadyBird

Melissa Leo in Novitiate

Michelle Pfeiffer in Mother!

Hong Chau in Downsizing

Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip

 

Worse—ranging from UGH! to boring to awful to bad to blah. If I was capable (that’s another post) of walking out of a movie before the end I would have walked out of these.  Once again in no particular order:

Toni Erdmann—Their Finest—Matilda—A Very Sordid Wedding—My Cousin Rachael—The Beguiled—The Little Hours—From The Land of the Moon—Wind River—Logan Lucky—Good Time—Mother!—Beach Rats—The Florida Project—The Disaster Artist–Wonderstruck

Posted January 2, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES, Uncategorized

“Call Me by Your Name”–movie review   Leave a comment

This is a very hard review for me to write as I am a pushover, a sucker, an incurable romantic for love stories especially one that may be about a gay couple so I was looking forward to “Call Me by Your Name”. I’ve read nothing but raves about the film when in film festivals and it has been nominated for the Golden Globe and sure to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Film.

The acting, as reported, is very good with a few minor quibbles but that mainly has to do with the story, the scenery in Northern Italy is at times breathtaking and at other times quiet, serene while the musical soundtrack at times can be jarring here and there.

While there is good chemistry between Armie Hammer, playing 24-year-old Oliver, and Timothee Chalamet as 17-year-old Elio the much-needed passion that is written and hinted about isn’t there in the writing. The former has been hired as a summer intern to the latter’s father, an archaeology professor, Mr. Perlman played by Michael Stuhlbarg.

While the main story is about Elio, a very well rounded educated, piano playing, multilingual youngster, coming of age that is experiencing sexual confusion, Oliver is the very handsome, sexy, sexual, amiable stranger who Elio is attracted to.

The main failure of the movie, surprisingly enough, is James Ivory who has written and directed movies that showed sexiness and sex in more rounded, physical, explicit and meaningfulness, such as “Maurice”, than in the screenplay he has written for this film. To a certain extent he is aided and abetted by the director Luca Guadannino.

In a 131 minute film there are, maybe, about 30 moving minutes, one that is funny involving a peach, another of Timothee Chalamant in a silent, moving, several minutes in length headshot and one startling, emotionally involving monologue by Michael Stuhlbarg along with maybe 30 minutes of scenery.

“Call Me by Your Name” is rated R for some hinted at sex, some language and except for Stuhlbarg’s moving, brilliant monologue it was mainly a big disappointment to me.

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAYeaXFb9w4

Posted December 22, 2017 by greatmartin in FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

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