Spy Games with The Rock

Central Intelligence  (B-)

My time while I was living in France was valuable.  I went to the movies only when a movie deemed it necessary (ID: Resurgence is the only exception, and yes crazy me, I liked most of it).  In France, most major movies, not just “tent pole” ones come out the same day or lucky us, before they do in America.   Sadly there are what one would consider a big film and it comes out weeks or months after.  Central Intelligence was one of these.  So either I was too busy or didn’t care enough to see it in the theater.  I am glad though because even the trailers I had stayed away from this movie.  I read no other reviews and Collider had not said it was truly awful and I usually value their staff’s opinion.

So the other drawback of not seeing this right away is Kevin Hart.  I am not a fan.  I have and will likely never see the Ride a Long movies, nor many of the other lame looking comedies he has been in.  The two prior to this movie though were, Get Hard, ugh I know…and the boxing movie (forgot the actual name) with Stalone and Dinero.  That movie was actually not all crap and Hart was one of the best parts.

So CI.  Rock is now the funny guy and Hart is the sarcastic but serious guy.  The role reversal works.  Yes each at times ham it up a little bit but it never takes me out of the movie, even the slapstick stuff like Hart failing on his back flips.  I love, even if fake, people smashing their faces.  So Hart is playing Calvin.  He is the cool guy from high school.  Mr. Popular, all scholastic, all awards, and etc;  He isn’t a jerk though.  The Rock plays Robbie Weirdicht (pronounced as is while you laugh), when back in high school is fat, a geek, and constantly harassed.

With the upcoming 20 year reunion, Hart is at a crossroads in his life.  He has married his high school sweetheart and is healthy, has a home and all that, but he is not some super rich guy with “the life” as was predicted by his school.  As he sits in his office at work, just learning he was passed over by a younger go getter, he receives a friend request on Facebook.  He doesn’t recognize the name but accepts anyways.  This person, Bob Stone quickly tells Calvin that he is Weirdicht and that he is in town and so they decide to grab drinks that night.  After some talking and a quick bar fight, Calvin is sensing something is amiss with Bob.  When they get back to Calvin’s home, Bob asks about a financial matter and uses his computer to try to access files that show a black market arms deal.  The next the CIA arrives and informs Calvin that Bob is a traitor, believe to be the actual person trying to acquire the illegal arms.  For the next 40 minutes the action plays out with one section cut into all that action with a very funny scene that takes place at couples therapy, set up by Calvin’s wife.

From there the duo travel from D.C. to Boston and track down the buyers and hope to resolve the out of hand situation.  The ending offers some revealing insights at how Bob sees things with people he gets close to and we will say they are not always what he sees out of his own eyes.

A few cameos and one of them an extended one offer more context to the film and helps the movie try to create a twist on who is or is not faithful to the CIA.

Overall this movie works.  It is similar to SPY from last year.  It takes what most think is another silly spy comedy and makes you interested in the characters and feel for them because as well know…HIGH SCHOOL SUCKS!

Jaws it’s not :(

The Shallows – FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

 

Yes, I know.  This movie was never going to be JAWS but it at least could have been entertaining and it wasn’t.

Short review….So I downloaded this a few days ago and decided to watch it yesterday.  I got through the first ten minutes but then I was distracted by everything else in the world.  So I did what I shouldnt do and clicked in 5-10 intervals on the time bar to see if anything interesting was happening in the movie.  Sadly there wasn’t.  Girl gets her leg bitten into by shark and climbs onto a rock.  The shark with an agenda, circles the rock the entire time because there must be no other place to get food.  She checks out her modern surf watch which we can see but then the director decides to put a graphic up on the screen od said watch then telling us what the time meant.  How much longer until low tide.  Well low tide did not work so now the girl has to swim to a buoy to evade the high tide and the shark.  So I skip along more as she has already sewn up her wound (not even close to believable) and she finally is going to make a break for it.  In the mean time she has discovered an obstable, on the ocean floor that she will use as an obstacle which she does and it conveniently kills the shark in the process, similar in the way you kill a zombie in The Walking Dead.  She goes ashore and now its present day with her awesome looking shark bite scar and her on the beach again looking out on the water.  The final scene leaves you left wondering will she go back in…..well duh she brought all here gear again, so if she was unsure I doubt she would have gone all that way for all that trouble.

 

 

P.S.  starring Blake Lively

HBO On Demand – Everest

Everest – B

So last year a movie I had to admit, I saw the poster for this but saw no trailer or tv spots.  I already knew a little about the true story of those unfortunate events 20 years ago.  So in comes 2016 and Everest is released on home platforms and I decide to watch it.  It was a great two hours I lost that day.  This might be the best movie I have scene where the stars are all played by some of the best character actors we have today.  The biggest name on the billing, she subtly plays a small but emotional role.  From what I could tell most of the effects were practical and even when CGI was used, mainly for scenery purposes, it did not take me out of the movie.  That is good because a lot of times on home video, CGI can really become weak to the eye than it was in a theater.

It is 1996.  Everest in recent years has become busier than ever with guid companies offering an escort to the summit for upwards of $60k.  Most are experienced climbers and some are just amateur ones looking for the thrill.  Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) has become the go to guide company.  For this trek he will be taking Doug, a U.S. Postman, Beck (Josh Brolin), an arrogant Texan, Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelley) from Outside Magazine, and Yasuko Namba, one of the low number of women looking to climb all of the “Seven Summits”.

Also on the mountain will be a group from South Africa whose team leader is not a team player and a group led by American Scott Fischer ( Jake Gyllenhaal).  Fischer is a free caring, high-octane filled soul who looks more in place in the 60’s than he does in the 90’s.

As the teams spend the next few weeks at Base Camp adjusting to altitude, on one of their practice treks Hall and Fischer are seeing the potential dangers they are going to run into with mountain being so busy this year.  A meeting is called amongst the other team leaders as Hall and Fischer attempt to schedule the climbs to make it safer and not create a log jam in case of bad weather.  The South Africans walk out in protest, as they still believe that in this day, even after many have already scaled the top of Everest that they should be able to get there first.  With the money being spent by the climbers they feel obligated to get their clients up to the top.  Weather conditions don’t mean a thing because next year if you cannot guarantee a summit, new or returning climbers are going to go with another group and that hurts the bottom line.

Hall, Fischer, and a few other groups all agree to stagger their climbs. Hall and Fischer after a few more days have even agreed to team up to keep the traffic low.  Throughout the next few days, a few climbers will have to give up their dream as they are unable to acclimate to the conditions of high altitude.  Others have their fears and doubts set in after many days of treks to get to the next camp.

Helen, the base camp operator, has informed Rob of a potential storm that could come in on April 11th.  They day before they have already suffered through one nasty storm that came in out of nowhere.  Around midnight leading into the 11th, the skies are clear and the teams start their ascent to the summit, with the idea they will hit the 2pm turn around time, giving them time to spare in case of a new storm.

This is a true story, so it is not a spoiler if I say what happens, I know this.  That though is never the intention of this blog.  If you want a movie that will make you feel and cause a few tears, Everest offers this.  Right now this is featured on HBO GO.  I watched for the second time yesterday and thought I should post about it because it is an enjoyable film.  It isn’t over done as sometimes these true life stories can be.  It honored the climbers, especially those who lost their lives that day.  It does not demonize anyone for their choices because the one part of the movie where you think Hall makes a bad decision, those people don’t know or have the climbers mentality.  Also the storm that came in would have still affected the group regardless of any other actions Hall took.

 

 

Entertainment for all!

I am back after a few days away with my family and wanted to take the time to write about something I have come to love in the past year.

So last year with the hype leading up to Star Wars The Force Awakens, I like many people started looking at the trailer and the trailer reviews posted on YouTube.  As I scrolled through the many on there I came across a link for Collider Jedi Council.  I had never seen nor heard of this before and dove in.  Instantly I was hooked.  The banter among the hosts was funny, honest and eye-opening.

So as YouTube does, I started seeing on my main page all these videos for Collider, still at this point not realizing it was the parent company of Jedi Council.  So naturally I clicked on Collider Movie News which had the headline about Star Wars.  So I start to watch and there is John Campea.  Creator and Host of Movie Talk.  Now so of you may have been watching all along even back in the days when this was on AMC’s (movie theater company) YouTube channel.  Once again the format and the panel was everything I had just seen on Jedi Council.  NOW it is a daily watch for me.  Along with other programming they offer weekly such as Jedi Council and TV Talk.  From the hosts, all three ladies bringing a different style and pronunciation effect of certain words, to the guest panel with people I had never heard of surrounding John Campea.  John Schnepp, Kristian Harloff, Mark Ellis, and others. Who were these people?  By the time I did learn more about them over this past year I can’t believe I had missed all this fun and eye-opening commentary on movies and other sections of the industry.

I originally for this site had wanted to do my own quick news review every few day or so.  In the past few weeks I decided to scrap that for now and will instead post links for news about movies from Collider.

Take time out of your day to watch their content.  The second or final third of the show is emails and twitter questions so if you are a person who just wants the news that is all upfront and you can return to the rest of the shows another time.  The show is run live on YouTube at 2pm EST every Mon-Fri.  Jedi Council is not live and released on every Thursday YouTube at 8pm EST.  Regarding Collider and my new fond appreciation for the people who work there, I was also able to find out about a show called Schmoes Know.  I will review that another time but it is another brand associated and now fully under the Collider umbrella and it too has made my Thursday must watch “TV”.

Collider News YouTube

 

Irish Movies – Once

Once     B+

Being of Irish heritage, I enjoy when quality when movies come out.  Once is one of these.  The story follows to lovers of music.  The Guy (Glen Hansard) is a busker (a person who plays their music on the streets) and the Girl( Marketa Irglova) is a Czech ex-pat now living with her baby and mother as the girl’s husband has left.  Both reside in Dublin.  Dublin and the rest of Ireland are known for its amazing music and writing culture.

Hansard and Irglove in real life are musicians, and at times more working/struggling musicians.  Hansard, unlike Irglova has one acting credit to his name, the wonderful, and one day to be review, “The Committments”.  It was only a support role so coming into those movie that originally was supposed to have a bigger budget and a known actor.  Once they pulled out and at the same time, their financial backers, the movie became so small-scale and intimate, Hansard agreed to the film.

So our Guy and Girl meet on the shopping street, Grafton St.  Girl is a very nosey person and very interested in Guy’s music.  She thinks he has great talent while Guy is not so sure.  He has been heartbroken by a cheating ex and of course all great music as we know comes from heartbreak.  So throughout the film his and her songs are performed but not in ways that forced on to you like most movie musicals can.

The journey these two take becomes one of friendship and romance, a forbidden romance though as Girl is not sure of what to make of the rebounding Guy.

As for the music.  Music of course is subjective and this style, which some would call “indie”, is rock but with soul, passion, folkness and of course talent.  Hey the main song “falling Slowly” was so good it won the Oscar for best song.

So, take a chance on a musical.  An Irish one, with untrained actors acting as real people and real musicians.  The reason it works though, is because they are real people and musicians.  During filming they did in real life fall in love so it is shown on-screen.  They even made a music group that gave us more amazing music.  They called themselves the Swell Season.

Enjoy.

 

Classic Review – Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Love is a Man-Splendored Thing    (B)

So recently I rewatched this film because due to visa reasons I am back in the USA and not in France with my girlfriend.  This is one of her all-time favorite movies.  I am a romantic sap, so I rewatched this the other night because it really is a fantastic look at Hong Kong and Asian relations back after WWII.

This movie tells the story based on similar events of the author of the book.  It focuses on Dr. Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones), a female Eurasian (that is someone who is mixed European/Asian birth) working in Hong Kong.  She is from China but due to the growing communist movement and her time abroad studying medicine she has come to live and work in the free land of Hong Kong.  She is widowed from a husband that was murdered by the communist government and someone who is always talking to her European and Asian side when it comes to making certain decisions.  None of which come harder than the new man in her life, Mark Elliot (William Holden).  Mark is an American reporter, who is separated from his wife who won’t let them divorce.  At a dinner, he meets Suyin and is instantly smitten.   Mark is not one to let something get away from him so he makes his advances, politely but with a bit of authority because Suyin is very closed and wishes to never be broken by love ever again.

As the movie plays on, Mark and Suyin indeed become close.  Culture frowns upon their situation.  Mark even is lead to believe a divorce will be granted until at the last second his wife cruelly denies him.  After a weekend away, Suyin is fired from the hospital because she was not around, though on vacation, when they hospital could have needed her.  The board has effectively run her out of a job.  Mark in the meantime has been called away to Korea as the war is just about to start. They write letters to one another.  Everything seems to be going ok.   Suyin has now allowed herself to love again and knows that life holds many possibilities.

This movie shows us a strong female lead.  The character has endured heartbreak and new love, not just with a man but also in the adoption of a refugee child.  If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend and want to be close on the couch one evening, watch this…currently on Netflix.

Making the NTSB look bad – Sully (updated)

Sully   B+

So as most will come to realize after seeing the trailer or tv spots, I had no idea that the NTSB went this hard after the pilots of US Airways flight 1549.  I had read and watched all the reports those few years ago about how Sully saved the plane and those people on board the Airbus a320, a quality plane I often fly on.

Director Clint Eastwood finally takes a step back (in a good way) in stripping down this movie from being too American Sniper and making it feel like we are friends with Sully and his crew and can’t believe what they had to go through.  Clint focuses on the key players and not worry too much about the survivor stories as if you know the history of this event that there were no major dramas that unfolded.  I don’t mean to sound diminishing of their survival but if you want more info on their rescue I recommend you watch the Air Crash Investigation episode on this flight, which can easily be found on YouTube. It is good.

The story revolving the crash, Sully’s emotions including his fears, his memories, and his determination are kept tight with this script and direction.  Tom Hanks portrays him masterly, though, in my opinion, the performer of this movie is Aaron Eckhart.  Eckhart portrays First Officer Jeffrey Skiles.  Skiles midwestern humor and with bring levity to the whole situation and helps Sully find that determination that is needed once the full showdown with the NTSB takes place.  Eckhart also has the best line of the movie.  Throughout the movie, Sully is in touch with his wife who of course is traumatized as well with the events that have just taken place.  To go through a marriage where you are constantly separated from your partner due to work is hard enough, but to be apart during times of trouble and not having the ability to console one another in person is even worse.  Laura Linney plays Lorraine, Sully’s wife.  Linney is one of my favorite actresses.  Underrated in my mind.   Sadly, she is one of my two dislikes about the movie.  When Sully and Lorraine have their phone calls, I feel myself feeling for Sully, I feel the pain but with Lorraine, it just is not there.  I think Linney is misused here and Clint easily could have had the scenes of Sully talking to his wife on the phone just use him and we hear the voice of Lorraine over the phone.  It would have kept the pacing the same and increase the pain we feel for Sully.

My second issue, though small, is still important in my mind.  the CGI.  We are in a period of the best technology with CGI that we have ever been.  Have you seen the trailer for Rogue One?  Can you tell if the death star and star destroyers are models or CGI?  I can’t.  That is important.  The first time we see the plane, I kind of cringed because the trailer shots we have seen showed us a decent looking CGI plane.  Too many times in this movie were the use of camera angles and shots to give us that action and feel of how the plane was going down failed to deliver.  There were a few good shots as well.  For a movie of this importance where the plane is a character, the CGI should have been better.  I have seen episodes of Air Crash Investigation with better CGI.  Yes, a long paragraph for a minor detail but hey it is 2016.  Plenty of movie studios are doing wonders with CGI with creatures and vehicles that are made up from imagination.  Ain airplane exists in real life and should be replicated better.

Overall I was entertained.  I connected with pilots.  I hated the NTSB.  They were doing their job yes, but while they are not there to be friends to the pilots to make sure the investigation is not tainted, they forgot to not be jerks.  This movie is short too.  Only an hour and a half.  Though the previews took about a half hour so plan on two hours in the theater.  Stay for the credits as they real crew and passengers share some stories and it was nice to see all these people who stay close because they survived.  It gives you a sense that there is still hope for this country after this awful upcoming election.

 

update – I have, of course, read some backlash from the people behind the NTSB.  I know there are always liberties taken with movies based on true events.  I know the NTSB has to try to stay neutral and not praise or criticize a flight crew until all the facts come to light.  The fact that the NTSB has come out and said they never were that tough on them and in fact they claimed to be more praiseful than they should have been, will be taken with a grain of salt as will now the portrayal of the NTSB by Eastwood.  The NTSB is a fantastic organization and has helped bring closure and advancements in safety measures for worldwide aviation.  So if Eastwood did take extreme liberties with how they portrayed the NTSB I will lower my score.  Drama is great in dramatic movies, but if a character is blatantly skewed for dramatic purposes (see The Insider) then I will take great issue with that because this movie still had plenty of drama.

Recently Released Review -The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys   A-

So sadly while In Paris, I never got around to see this movie and I always said once it was released I will watch it because everyone has great things to say about it.

They weren’t kidding.  From the 70’s era opening logos and music, you are immediately transported bag to that time of flared suits, greasy long hair and creepy mustaches that we use as the joke today, “porno stache.”

So long and short of it is, Porno actress is killed, her grandma thinks she is still alive so private detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is asked to look for her and is investigation leads him to the name Amelia.  At the same time, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is hired b Amelia to intimidate March into stop looking for her.  After Healy beats up March in their first encounter Healy has come to realize that one, he forgets how awesome yoohoo is and two, after his encounter with the man with the blue face (which Healy gave) and his henchman, that March is a man he will need to help Amelia.

Tagging along, sometimes unknowingly to her father is March’s daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice).  When she isn’t being her father’s designated driver and hanging around the ruins of her old home that caught fire, she is helping with the investigation and every scene Rice is in, she pretty much steals them.  She says to her father that he is the worst detective ever but in her mind knows that when he has a sober moment he can be quite brilliant.

So, our heroes of course, find Amelia but she is clever at getting away from our clumsy detectives.  Her mother, Kim Basinger, is head of the justice department and is trying to keep her disappearance under wraps and hires March and Healy to find her and bring her home safely.  She knows her daughter has been involved in the porn industry and other groups that she feels will ruin her daughter’s life.

With all this said, any more will give away the movie, so listen.  The comedy is on point.  Shane Black has written and directed this fine film.  He captures the feel of the 70’s.  The violence while real still brings with it some humor.  The twist while not grand is interesting and brings for a fun and all so true ending regarding corporate and government systems here in America.

So go rent or download on your preferred service and enjoy a laugh with friends, a lover, family or just yourself.  You will all be laughing.

 

Discovered on Netflix – Elstree 1976

Elstree 1976 – B

If you love Star Wars like I do, you are always looking to find out more behind the scenes scoops, even if they are from the prequel era.

Well, look no further than here.  Elstree is not a fully loaded behind the scenes, all secret telling documentary.  It is a brilliant little film that focuses on the small role bit actors and some extras.  It tells views from a handful of the most recognizable nonstars and one big star that was hidden from us because his voice was not used and the voice that was is forever etched into our memories.

Greedo, Darth Vader, Bigs, Stormtroopers, and more had actors that like many in the Star Wars universe come out of nowhere to help shape and bring to life the movie that changed movies.  From their backgrounds into the acting world and where it took them to present day, it gives a glimpse that this world gave and took.

I will say again.  If you are looking for “scoops” look elsewhere.  This film gives you a small glimpse into how life could be as a working actor or extra and if your film hits the big time what the fandom can bring about in your life.

I wish I could have donned a bucket on my head for a few days in that hot summer of ’76.

 

9/7/16 Movie News

Here is what I am reading into today…The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, whom I love, are premiering their doc on their first Cuban concert…http://www.ew.com/article/2016/09/07/rolling-stones-tour-doc-ole-ole-ole-trailer

Star Wars has always been ahead of movie tech…and this shows how great they are…http://www.ew.com/article/2016/09/07/star-wars-force-awakens-effects-video-industrial-light-magic

For some of the best movie news coverage, check out Collider Movie Talk on youtube.  A great cast of professionals in the biz who run through the world of movies daily.  They also have other great content you can check out…https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWvMmm_sSdgALpo1Ci4WvtQ