MILE 22 Brings Wahlberg and Director Berg Back Together for Action
Coming to theatres this Friday from director/producer Peter Berg and STX Entertainment comes a fast paced chase to MILE 22.
James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), and Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey) are part of a CIA prized group of operatives who are sent to handle special missions. In their latest take down, the team loses a man, takes down Russians up to no good and intel.
In Asia, Kerr has an informant that needs their protection and Silva isn’t thrilled about it. Li Noor (Iko Uwais) has turned himself in to the embassy claiming to have information about the whereabouts of missing chemicals. What makes this even more interesting is that the local authorities want him back and they have Axel (Sam Medina) to make that happen.
The secret tactical command team led by Bishop (John Malkovich) works with Silva’s team being the eyes and ears getting Noor to an airstrip twenty-two miles from the embassy for extraction. Along with Bishop is King (Keith Bolden), Knight (Jenique Hendrix), Rook (Billy Smith) and Pawn (Myke Holmes) who have the technology to make it happen.
What they don’t know is that the team has eyes on them as well. In the skies above is Vera (Natasha Goubskaya) and Russian military Aleksander (Nikolai Nikolaeff) and they want something too.
The information everyone wants has a key that only Noor knows and it will not be around long. The clock is ticking as every move is being watched and sometimes you have to trust someone you don’t know to survive.
Every mile matters!
Wahlberg as Silva is a very hyperactive, intense and fast talking individual who gives zero frakks about propriety or rank. Some might call it monologuing but he does it with such speed that it will make your mind spin while you giggle at the same time. He lays everything out on the table and yet his team means everything – even if he doesn’t act like it all the time. Wahlberg turns in his usual strong performance in a story that is fast telling and even faster in action.
Cohan as Kerr is a mother who is dealing with an ex-husband who likes to have control. Personally I would be so quick to control a woman who has no problem with speaking her mind or pointing a weapon in someone’s face! She believes in her contact Noor wants to see him safe. Anyone who has watched AMC’s The Walking Dead can see that Cohan brings it to this role as well.
Rousey as Snow is tough and pretty much took this role and ran with it. Malkovich as Bishop is suave and in control of his team. Goubskaya as Vera watches everything from the air and doesn’t bat an eye when the team comes under fire. Skeggs as MIT gets a shout out because the scene between she and Silva is epic and fast.
Uwais as Noor is fan-frikken-tastic but then again if you have seen THE RAID in 2011 and THE RAID 2 in 2014 then you know this role is very cool for him. There is no doubt that his martial arts is on point and brutal but Uwais takes this character to another level that made my jaw drop – oh yea, he’s got this.
Other cast include Carlo Alban as William Douglas, Chae-rin Lee as Queen, Emily Skeggs as MIT, Terry Kinney as Johnny Porter, Brandon Scales as Jacob Stone, Poorna Jagannathan as Dorothy Brady, Elle Graham as India and Peter Berg as Lucas.
Berg and Wahlberg have proven that their true story telling is a calling card of the duo and they do it well. This is a bit of a turn from the last few years but there’s nothing wrong with that either. I don’t mind being taken out of the realm of reality for an hour and a half to just sit back and watch the film do its job – entertain me.
MILE 22 is a total action film that doesn’t give the audience a moment to sit still. The speak is just as fast as any bullet flying provided by Wahlberg and Cohan making sure we understand they mean business. Each character in the film has a role to play and man does it get played intensely.
Berg doesn’t disguise the good or bad of either side but instead goes in full bore on the game of modern warfare. It’s no longer easy to recognize friend or foe when it’s all treated like a game. The cinematography is pretty cool keeping up with the pace of the story but then again if you are going to have an action film – go big or go home!
In the end – Option 1: Diplomacy, Option 2: Military…meet Option 3!
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN Brings us all a Lesson in What is Important
Coming this week to theatres from director Marc Forster and Walt Disney Studios is the return to the One Hundred Acre Woods and the boy once known as CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.
Christopher Robin was a young boy who spent all his time in the woods with his friends Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo. Their days were filled with exploration and friendship until Christopher Robin is sent off to boarding school.
As the years pass, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) meets and marries Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), becomes the father of Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), is a soldier fighting years of war and returns home to work at a company called Winslow that makes luggage. He is focused on work which leaves little time for family.
When he is told by Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss) that the company needs to make cuts, Robin must give up a weekend with his family to work. Evelyn and Madeline are not happy but go off for the weekend on their own.
Back in the one hundred acre woods, Pooh wakes up to discover that all his friends are gone. As he starts to search, Pooh finds his way to London and Christopher Robin knowing he is the only person that can help. Imagine the surprise when they meet and Pooh explains that the rest of their friends are lost.
All Robin can think of is how to get this talking bear back to where he belongs without anyone, including his family, seeing him. Battling Heffalumps and the need to get back for an important meeting, Robin loses track of time and races back to London. The problem is that Tigger’s good intentions are about to change everything.
Madeline, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore show Christopher Robin what it means to slow down, remember the people that mean the most and – to do absolutely nothing.
McGregor as the adult Christopher Robin has his nose the grindstone doing what he thinks he should be doing, providing for his family. Forgetting his friends in the forest, Robin feels the pressures of responsibility and is now forgetting his own family. McGregor as an actor still manages to have the ability to look child-like when the role calls for it and make it look effortless. His interactions with Pooh are filled with tension until he begins to embrace the simplicity he once knew.
Atwell as Evelyn sees the change in her husband and reminds him that who he is now is not the man she met all those years ago. She wants him to laugh, smile and be a father once again to their daughter who clearly misses him. Carmichael as Madeline would gladly accept moments, fractions of moments with her father but doesn’t know how to tell him. Feeling as if everything else means more than she does, it takes the friends in the woods to explain that her father wasn’t always this way. Carmichael is very sweet and even missing time with her father; she still wants to help him succeed!
Jim Cummings voices Winnie the Pooh (also Tigger) had me the moment he began to speak as Pooh. There is such innocence in Pooh and Cummings brings that so very clear through his voice. Brad Garrett as Eeyore has the perfect voice filled with sadness and humor at the same time. Nick Mohammed as Piglet is perfectly cute, Peter Capaldi as Rabbit is very funny, Sophie Okonedo as Kanga is the Mom who watches over everyone, Sara Sheen as Roo loves her woodland family and Toby Jones as Owl is sweet.
Other cast include Oliver Ford Davies as Old Man Winslow, Ronke Adekoluejo as Katherine Dane, Adrian Scarborough as Hal Gallsworthy, Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Ralph Butterworth, Ken Nwosu as Paul Hastings, John Dagleish as Matthew Leadbetter, Amanda Lawrence as Joan MacMillan, Katy Carmichael as Christopher’s Mother, Tristan Surrock as Christopher’s Father and Orton O’Brien as Young Christopher Robin.
Winnie-the-Pooh was created by A.A. Milne with the first collection of stories finding its way to the hands of children in 1926. Basing the character named after his own son Christopher Robin Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh was a teddy bear that belonged to his son. His son named the toy bear after a black bear he saw at the London Zoo. The rest is history and what a grand and iconic history it is.
It should be no surprise that Marc Forster directed the film since he also directed the 2004 film FINDING NEVERLAND. That is another story about the creation of the iconic story of Peter Pan. The feel created by Forster is compelling, tugs at the heart and is giggly delightful.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a story about what happens once childhood fades into a place we chose to forget. In this case, Christopher Robin is sent to boarding school taking him away from his friends and then adulting through marriage, a war and a job which changes his focus on life.
What makes this film so relatable is that we are all the adult Christopher Robin’s in some shape or form. We are all so busy ‘working’ that sometimes the good childhood memories, our family and life suffers in the juggling. That is the truth of it and its right there in front of us daily wiping out all else sometimes.
This film brings the simplicity right there in front of us as well with phrases that will be repeated on the regular and all coming from a talking bear. Winnie-the-Pooh sees Christopher Robin exactly as he is – even if he is now an adult. Looking into his eyes, the lovely bear embraces the boy who has become a man, even if the man doesn’t like it.
The characters of Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo and Owl are reminders of friendship and the charm that they bring to ones life. These woodland creatures are loyal, supportive and want Christopher Robin to remember what is important because it is clear that they deeply love their friend.
McGregor’s portrayal of the iconic little boy who becomes a forgetful man is what I would expect and yet his performance still moved me. I will also admit that Pooh and his friends had my heart all tied up neatly in a bow and might have even brought a tear to my eye. Who wouldn’t want friends like that to lovingly remind me to embrace every moment, occasionally smile and remember to do nothing because it will become the best of something.
In the end – sooner or later the past will catch up with you!
SKYSCRAPER is Everything Anyone Can Want from the Rock!
In theatres from writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Universal Pictures comes the story of a family man, bad guys and a tall building called a SKYSCRAPER.
Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is a former FBI man who has begun a small security business of his own. Through the help of Ben (Pablo Schreiber), a former member of his FBI team, Will has been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Doing the security check of the highest skyscraper in the world owned by Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), Will is more than a little nervous.
Living in the family section of the building that is waiting to be open to the public is wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) who is a successful doctor in her own right. Also, their twins Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell) are enjoying the adventure living in Hong Kong.
Meeting with Zhao, Will is given the okay to complete his security work and given a tablet that allows only him access to certain areas of the building. Headed to the off site facility, Will is attacked and his satchel is stolen. Ben is there to help and discovers that Will still has what it takes. It becomes clear that there is something more sinister happening when Kores Botha (Roland Moller) enters the building.
Seen by Sarah in the hallways, it is soon after that a fire alarm goes off! Will figures out that the building is under attack and tries to reach his family when he realizes they are in their apartment. He is surprised when it is put on the big screens around Hong Kong that he is the one responsible for it all.
A police headquarters is set up and led by Inspector Wu (Byron Mann) who is suspicious about everything that has been happening. Putting a call out to find Will, it doesn't take long. On a building next to the skyscraper, Will is finding his own way back into the building that has now been locked down with police hot on his trail.
Zhao is told by his handlers and Mr. Pierce (Noah Taylor) that Will's family is still in the building and they try to retrieve them. As the fire burns out of control and Zhao realizes that his building has been compromised, he knows it's time to go and who is responsible for everything.
None of that matters to Will, he wants his family safe and no billionaire, bad guy or skyscraper is going to stop him!
Johnson as Sawyer is a man with heart, soul and a deep understanding of family. Now, let’s get down to business with this role. Of course this is a 'disaster' film and it looks like a few we've seen over the years yet bit when Dwayne Johnson takes the lead it's all good with me. He always portrays a charmingly humble sort of guy who knows what the right thing is and doesn't hesitate to do it. His characters are always flawed in some way and as Sawyer; he is a man who has a physical disability that doesn't slow him down. He's smart, unwavering and determined to make sure his family comes first and that's what makes him a good dude.
I also must say that if the universe is looking for another Spiderman, they might want to consider Dwayne Johnson (you will understand when you see the film). I was also impressed with little tricks that I kept thinking, “I bet John McClane (DIE HARD) is mad he didn’t think of that”. Just a great homage to a lot of classic disaster and action films I happen to love.
Campell as Sarah is a pretty darn good woman in her own right. She is supportive of her husband, smart with an important career and equally as dedicated to her family. When it all starts to go down, Campell goes into beast mode and makes it clear she is a force to be reckoned with as well. I enjoyed that about her role, she gets her hands dirty and clearly isn't a pushover. That goes for Roberts as daughter Georgia and Cottrell as son Henry as these two are afraid (with every reason to be) yet are motivated by the example set by their parents.
Moller as bad guy Botha is quiet, skilled and doesn't give a hoot who gets in his way. He has a score to settle and settle it he absolutely will. Schreiber as Ben is the man who starts it all using his friendship with Will. Taylor as Mr. Pierce is the guy I'd never trust in a million years which means a performance well done. Mann as Inspector Wu gives Will the chance to plea
Other cast include Kevin Rankin as Ray, Matt O'Leary as Skinny Hacker, Tzi Ma as Fire Chief Sheng, Adrian Holmes as Ajani Okeke, and Elfina Luk as Sgt. Han.
SKYSCRAPER has pretty much everything you go to see an action film for. Although the storyline might seem familiar in a few ways, it certainly doesn't take away from what happens on screen. Johnson goes in full force and doesn't waste any time taking his character for a full on adventure but then again we have come to expect that from him - happily so.
Look, I've been a fan of disaster films since I was a kid. My earliest experience in disasters on film was watching the 1953 film TITANIC with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck which captivated me from start to finish much to my mother's dismay. After that I couldn't wait to see what Hollywood would come up with next and I followed fearlessly with each film. It's probably the notion that I get a thrill out of surviving the disasters or perhaps I just enjoy watching what human beings do when survival is on the line.
Now, SKYSCRAPER will be one of those films that I will stop and watch every time it comes my way. I enjoyed watching Johnson be a part of a family that fights for their survival and not be a victim of it which I'm sure the bad guys didn't anticipate. Instead, I cheered them all on and boo'd when the bad guys showed their ugly mugs.
That's what makes films like SKYSCRAPER so enjoyable - the interaction that many in the theatre along with me enjoyed being a part of. There is something to be said for being outspoken when the characters on screen give us something to cheer about. Finally, this film is just one heck of a good time at the theatres with a bucket of popcorn and a comfy seat.
In the end - don't look down!
Get your Dino Fix with JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom
In theatres from director J.A. Bayona and Universal Pictures is the next chapter in the world of dinosaur’s with JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom.
After the 2015 disaster of the dinosaur park, a new disaster is on the horizon. The island’s volcano is about to destroy what is left of any living creature. A committee in the U.S. debates whether to help them or let the volcano handle it is being watched by Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).
She receives a telephone call from Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) who wants to help. Working for Lockwood is Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) who explains that they have another island for the animals to go to where they will be safe. The problem is locating them all and they need Claire’s help.
The location system on the island is shut down and Mills needs her to go back and start it up as well as find Blue. Claire knows there is only one person that can help with that part of the trip – Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Finding him is easy but convincing him to come help Blue is trickier.
Loading up for the trip, Claire takes computer wizard Franklin (Justice Smith) and dino-vet Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). Also with them is back up Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine) and his band of gun toting men. Owen realizes he needs to help and off they go to the island.
It doesn’t take long before the group realizes they’ve been duped and Blue gets hurt. Wheatley only used the group to get their hands on Blue leaving them for dead. It becomes clear that Mills is actually only interested in selling the animals to the highest bidder. It is Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) who catches on and tries to alert her grandfather.
Owen and Claire make their way to the caravan to discover that Mills is not only responsible for everything that is happening, but that underneath the Lockwood mansion lies another world that is about to be torn apart by something new and far more dangerous.
Because once again the dinosaurs prove life will find a way!
Pratt as Grady jumps in once again because who can resist a lovely raptor creature named Blue. Of course he isn’t about to let Claire go into the fray alone and it doesn’t take long before he is running through an island for his very life. From start to finish Pratt is go-go-go and trying to put a stop to those who seemed destined to bring destruction – and I don’t mean the islands previous inhabitants.
Howard as Claire wants to save the dinosaurs so badly that she’ll take any opportunity to get help. Believing in Lockwood’s plan, she is also back to the island were running is a foregone conclusion – only this time she isn’t wearing heels! After she and Owen find out where Mills has taken the creatures, she eventually will have to make a decision about their fate.
Smith as Webb is clearly not happy with visiting an island full of creatures that want to eat him but he hangs in for the long haul. Pineda as Zia is the reason we still have Blue on our side! Spall as Mills is a total douche bag and I didn’t need five minutes to figure that out. Once again it seems that the millionaires put their bucks and trust into the wrong people.
Jones as Eversol gets what he deserves and so does Levine as Wheatley – I mean seriously guys, you can’t crack a whip at a creature with large teeth and not expect something bad to happen right? Wong as Dr. Wu makes an appearance and I still can’t stand him – Dr. Wu that is.
Much love to Geraldine Chaplin as Iris because she is a woman I’ve absolutely adored since seeing her face in the 1965 brilliant film DR. ZHIVAGO. She always brings a gentle nature and in this film it returns with beauty.
Of course I can not let another line go by without saying how thrilled I am that Jeff Goldblum, the man, the myth, the Jurassic Park legend came back to give us a little more of Ian Malcolm.
Other cast includes Toby Jones as Mr. Eversol, BD Wong as Dr. Wu, Peter Jason as Senator Sherwood, the lovely Geraldine Chaplin as Iris and the incomparable Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm.
JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom is furious, a tad predictable, full of dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, bad men coming out of the woodwork and a few surprises. I think we can let the dinosaur’s rest for a bit while Maisie grows up to take over the sprint to catch those that got away.
Everyone in the theatre had a good time and were very vocal during the film with ‘oh no!’, ‘did you see that?’, ‘oh my gawd’, ‘whoa!’ and other words not meant for print. That’s what makes the JURASSIC PARK films so much fun in a theatre – it is a collective experience for dinosaur lovers everywhere. I mean come on, you have to admit that we actually root for them to get their pound or two of man-flesh!
The film is what summer blockbusters are all about and JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom is just that in every sense of the word. So gather up the family (might want to let the smaller kids hang out with grandma and grandpa for this one) and prepare for the next chapter in the Jurassic saga.
In the end – the park is gone!
HOTEL ARTEMIS Has a Unique Clientele
Coming this Friday from writer/director Drew Pearce and Global Road Entertainment is the story of membership to the exclusive HOTEL ARTEMIS.
It is 2028 and the city of Los Angeles is about to be taken over by riots when the residents decide they’ve had enough. In the middle of the mayhem are two brothers who pick the wrong time to pull a heist.
Shot up and running from the cops, the end up at the Hotel Artemis, an exclusive hotel that caters as a secret and safe place for criminals. Running the floor is The Nurse (Jodie Foster), a woman who clearly has seen the rear-end of life but knows her stuff. She is assisted by the very large Everest (Dave Bautista) who handles anyone that gets out of line.
The Nurse immediately gives the brothers the names Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and Honolulu (Brian Henry) according to their suites. Waikiki managed to avoid harm with a kevlar vest but brother Honolulu isn’t so lucky. She immediately goes to work but it definitely is a hot mess.
There are other guests already on the floor with the ever complaining Acapulco (Charlie Day) and the lovely Nice (Sofia Boutella). All The Nurse asks is that the guests have no weapons on the floor, no cops and don’t kill the other guests.
While working on Honolulu, she gets a call from Crosby Franklin (Zachary Quinto), the arrogant offspring of the Hotel Artemis owner Niagara (Jeff Goldblum). He threatens that if anything happens to his father, The Nurse will pay – dearly.
If she didn’t have enough to worry about with a full house, she catches on her camera a young woman calling out her name. Helping her is going to cause problems but it seems The Nurse specializes in solving the unsolvable.
As the riot moves ever closer, the Hotel Artemis starts to break down as the guests get nervous about the outside getting in. Maybe they should worry more about how to get out before that happens!
Foster as The Nurse is absolutely brilliant! I love this character with her frailties, flaws, uncertainties and memories yet she can put a body back together in no time flat. Spending years on this special floor, Foster’s character is run down having seen almost everything – almost. I have always been a fan of Ms. Foster’s (CONTACT is a guilty pleasure) and this character is just stunning.
Brown as Waikiki is dealing with a brother who consistently screws things up, a run in with a former lover and getting the inside scoop on the inner workings of Hotel Artemis. All of that will come in handy when what his brother innocently took turns out to the be one thing that will get them killed. Brown does a remarkable job of being smooth under pressure and never once raises his voice although he certainly has plenty of reason too.
Boutella as Nice is simple a woman who has a job to do and no one or nothing is going to get in her way. Knowing her worth, it is a joy to see her take on the employer! Day as Acapulco is annoying, narcissistic and out for himself – yet he does it so damn well.
Bautista as Everest is a body guard as well as a ‘health care provider’ who shows intense loyalty to The Nurse and doesn’t suffer fools. Knowing what is the right thing and actually doing it doesn’t seem to be an issue for him, he just wants to follow the rules and get through the riot alive.
Goldblum as Niagara has some explaining to do but then again it’s Goldblum, his mere presence tends to be enough for me. Quinto as Crosby needs to be slapped several times but that’s the parent in me talking, and Slate as Morgan shows us that there is more to The Nurse than anyone has ever known.
Other cast include Kenneth Choi as Buke, Josh Tillman as P-22, Evan Jones as Trojan Nash, Nathan Davis Jr. as Rocco and Ramses Jiminez as Tariq.
HOTEL ARTEMIS is a place where bad guys go to find safety and be patched up if needs be. What it doesn’t know how to do is survive this batch of crazy people in the middle of a rioting city. Managing to keep it together long enough for the audience to learn the back story in the 93 minute film is perfect, anything longer would have ruined it.
It twists and turns down the hotel hallways giving us quick stories and an equal amount of action to go along with it. I suppose what made me the happiest is that it wasn’t a prequel, sequel, retelling or remaking of another story. That in itself deserves high praises and I’m sending it their way.
Director Pearce gives us something different and although I followed along a little too easily, I had a good time. There is something to be said for quick and to the point and HOTEL ARTEMIS gives exactly that.
In the end – no guns, no cops and no killing the other patients!
Frankenstein’s Story is Told Through MARY SHELLEY
Coming to theatres from director Haifaa Al Mansour and IFC Films is the story of Frankenstein told from his lovely creator MARY SHELLEY.
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a young girl who misses the mother she never knew and deals with step-mother Mary Jane (Joanne Froggatt) she wishes she didn’t. Her father William (Stephen Dillane) is a renown philosopher who sees something wild in his daughter. Consistently putting her thoughts to paper, she is looking for a life that is not the norm.
Seeing all this, Mary’s father sends her to visit Isabel Baxter (Maisie Williams), family who understands her in a surprising way. When the Baxter’s hold a gathering, Mary sees Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) and is moved to hear he is a poet. They begin spending time together discussing things she has not been able to with anyone else.
But their time is short lived when Mary is recalled home to sister Claire (Bel Powley) who misses her. The tension that was there before has returned and the only light is a gentleman caller who wishes to be mentored by Mr. Godwin. Mary is stunned when it is Percy who comes through the door.
Wanting to be together, Mary’s father is outraged and Claire only begs to go when she does. Packing up to start a new life, the two meet with Percy moving into a place of their own. Mary and Percy’s happiness is hanging by a thread as she tries to recover from tragedy as well as the cruel gossip.
Out for a night, they all meet Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who invites them to come to his country estate for a visit. Claire is more than thrilled as she tells Mary that she’s not the only one that can land a poet. There is constant drinking and discussion but Mary can not find her words. That is when Byron throws a challenge for them each to write a ghost story.
The only horror is when Claire is devastated by Byron and Mary doesn’t want to live the craziness of a poet’s life. Returning to London, she puts pen to paper and creates Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus yet no one will publish her works. Even friend John Polidori (Ben Hardy) writes his ‘ghost story’ and it was stolen from him.
Mary wonders if anything is going to change when the two people she needs to stand by her most do just that. She made her own rules and wrote her own way to being Mary Shelley.
Fanning as Mary is delicate, determined, soft-spoken, fierce attitude and lyrical in her writings. It is easy to forget that this was life in 18th century London and Mary’s role as a woman was carved in unmovable stone. Fanning’s performance gives us all and more with her alabaster and frail appearance. Underneath that is a fire this actress gives to a woman who knows that she doesn’t fit in to the mold. Her thought process and creativity are bursting and only the distraction of Shelley slows her down. Taking her life experiences to further her quest is not only staggering but breath taking at the same time.
Booth as Percy is everything a rogue poet would look like to me. He is dark in his writings and seductive when he focuses on something – singularly Mary. Believing he can have the bohemian life with her, it is his narcissism and entitlement that gets in the way of them both. Booth gives that performance from beginning to end with a hope of redemption for the man he is portraying.
Dillane as Godwin is a father who sees his daughter has not been happy most of her life. Dreaming of a mother she never knew, he can only encourage her to find the words to make her life have meaning. Froggatt as Mary Jane does a fantastic job in getting me not to like her which is so weird because she was one of my favorite Downton Abbey characters.
Powley as Claire is a young woman who wants the same thing as Mary and the only way to get it is to live in her shadow. Sturridge as Lord Byron plays a man who has no conscious at all and has no qualms in using anyone for anything he needs. What a strange place 18th century London was!
Williams has a small role as Isabel, the cousin who seems to understand the wild side of Mary and encourages it. She is swift and charming as only Williams can be.
Other cast include: Ben Hardy as John Polidori, Hugh O’Conor as Samuel Coleridge, Ciara Charteris as Harriet Shelley, Sarah Lamesch as Eliza and Jack Hickey as Thomas Hogg.
MARY SHELLEY is a deep and intense period drama about a woman who was clearly born in the wrong century. Her grasp of the written word came at an early age with her desire to get out everything hiding within her. Trying to live the best life by her terms, it seemed her terms were even to difficult for those around her to grasp.
Falling in love with Shelley could be considered the step off of a difficult life but who are we to judge that. How many of us have chosen to be with a person we know is wrong for us or will challenge our sanity – yet we still do it? That is exactly what happened to Mary to the day Percy died.
I have read books about Mary Shelley’s life and to say it was a difficult one is an understatement. Deaths of family, children and constantly being questioned about the authorship of Frankenstein, I have long admired her tenacity to put all of it at bay and continue with her work while raising her son.
The film gives only a powerful glimpse of her life as a young woman but it is so well and beautifully done. The cinematography and costuming lend itself to bringing me into the story quickly and keeping me until the very end.
Mary Shelley wanted a life different than the women of her time and the difficulty in doing so is putting yourself in harms way with society. Like today, chatterboxes and gossipers can destroy a person with word and Mary couldn’t escape that. The truth is that it would take many Mary’s to get where we are today and that is enough reason to want to know more about this rare woman.
In the end – her greatest love inspired her darkest creation!
Love and the Sea lead to ADRIFT
Sailing into theatres this Friday from director Baltasar Kormakur and STX Entertainment comes the true story of survival when you are ADRIFT.
Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) is a young woman who has left her San Diego home to travel the world. Going where ever the tide and jobs take her, Tami ends up in Tahiti cleaning boats.
Putting into the dock, Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) is a man clearly in love with the sea, even the worst parts of it. Meeting Tami they clearly find a connection for wandering and explore the island and their relationship. They also sail on the boat Richard built himself, the Mayaluga, and Tami couldn’t be happier.
Richard runs into family friends Peter (Jeffrey Thomas) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne) who own the 44-foot yacht called the Hazana. They are thrilled to ask Richard if he wants to take their boat back to harbor in San Diego with a thank you fee of $10,000 and a return ticket back to Tahiti.
Tami isn’t sure she wants to return to her hometown but Richard sees the money as a way for them to continue to sail where ever their hearts want to go. They set sail on their first 4,000 mile adventure together!
What they are unaware of yet is that one of the most catastrophic hurricanes is coming their way. Trying to avoid it doesn’t work as they batten down the sails and attempt to ride it out. Being thrown around, Tami wakes to a tossed ship, the sails in the water and Richard badly hurt.
Getting him settled, Tami takes stock of the provisions that are still aboard and drinkable water in the tanks. Grabbing the sextant and a map, she begins to figure out what is the best way they can be rescued before their supplies run out. Questioning every move she makes, it is the steady voice of Richard that guides them.
Because in that is the power of their love.
Woodley as Tami is a free spirited individual who makes it very clear that she goes where the jobs take her with no thought of staying or going. Meeting Richard is a chance to not only share a little bit of herself but really understand the freedom of her life. Woodley personifies that spirit as she has in so many other films. In this instance she is the right actress to draw us all into the journey.
Claflin as Richard is Woodley’s equal on the screen with the same ability to draw us into the spirit of someone who lives for the sea. Good, bad or otherwise, Richard has built a boat that takes him wherever he wants without apologies. It is easy to see how the two would be drawn into a relationship. Richard is a little more reserved that Tami and it is clear he is in love.
ADRIFT is based on the true story from the book Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea by Tami Oldham Ashcraft. The event happened in October of 1983 when Ashcraft was 23-years-old. A Category 4 hurricane with 50 foot high waves and 160 mph winds were no match for the two sailors.
The film is very well done as it is impossible to not become involved in the story. Of course I believe that all stories about ocean survival are incredible from the mere fact that it is the ocean! It is unpredictable, unrelenting, surprising and majestic and when its waves are ruffled, there is nothing more fierce.
Also, compelling in knowing that there is very little one can do on the ocean when what keeps you alive is taken away. The panic for just food and water isn’t something you can do much about unless you are willing to fish and pray for rain. That’s what makes the difference between giving up and total survival.
Woodley and Claflin are stellar together and watching them from beginning to end brings a sniffle. The portrayal of their real-life counterparts is sweet and spirited bringing the audience into their story of love and survival.
In the end – their every emotion is as deep as the ocean!
DEADPOOL 2 – Enough Said!
In theatres this weekend from director David Leitch, Marvel Entertainment and 20th Century Fox comes a man who needs no introduction other than the words DEADPOOL 2.
So I thought about how to start this review and all I could think of was – GO EFFIN SEE THIS MOVIE! But the reader deserves a little better than that so here we go!
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is back as Deadpool and he’s happier than ever with gal-pal Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). On their anniversary Wade has a little something planned except his mercenary work decides to follow him home and bring mayhem along with them.
Sending his life in a tailspin and ready to do his worst, it isn’t until Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) brings Wade back to the Xavier Mansion that he sees a use for life. Agreeing to be an X-Men trainee along with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), they meet Russell Collins (Julian Dennison). Calling himself Firefist, he refuses to be abused any further at the orphanage.
A few bad fighting choices puts both Deadpool and Firefist in a place called the ‘Icebox’ that stores mutants. That actually makes it easier for future arrival Cable (Josh Brolin) to find his target – which isn’t Deadpool much to his disappointment – but the young Russell.
Deciding that he must help the young boy, Deadpool puts together a group he calls X-Force and begins accepting applications with buddy Weasel (T.J. Miller). Their goal is to find the prison truck transport and get Russell back. What they don’t know is that Russell finds a friend in Juggernaut, who has his own issues with super heroes.
Cable finally tells Deadpool why he wants the boy and that he must be stopped before reaching the orphanage or there is no turning back with a future fate sealed. Now Deadpool, Cable and his new recruit lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz) face off with Russell and Juggernaut but he is too strong. Thankfully Colossus and Warhead decide that Deadpool needs their help and the battle for good and evil begins.
It’s all being done the Deadpool way!
Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool has made damn sure that no one else, ever, will be able to remake-reimagine-rethink-rediscover or “re” anything else someone might want to do in ten years. He has made this character completely iconic and absolute in the minds of everyone who loves this character. It is no big secret to anyone that I’m not a huge super hero person, I mean I see the films but then it’s like ‘next!’ to me. Not DEADPOOL – this is the number one character I looked forward to seeing the first time and it was like Christmas morning as a kid for DEADPOOL 2. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING to complain about in this film and its Reynolds fault completely. I’m sure he won’t mind taking the blame for this one. He gives this ole lady plenty to laugh about and that’s everything.
Brolin as Cable has me a little perplexed. Jumping between two comic book characters just isn’t something I’m thrilled about. I’m still not over Chris Evans going from his blaze days to Captain America and it’s been more than a hot minute. Between the two I would prefer he stay in the Cable lane but a paycheck is a paycheck right? Okay, so as cable I love the ying and yang between he and Deadpool. They both have issues and yet play off of them providing each other with a conscience.
Dennison as Russell is a kid on a mission and although he has every reason to be pretty p.o.’d, ending up with Deadpool in an icebox might be a tad worse. He is going through his terrible teens and just happens to have fist that can destroy anything in its path.
Beetz as Domino doesn’t take Wade or Deadpool seriously because she’s all about proving that lucky favors her own brand of coolness. Hildebrand returns as Negasonic Teenage Warhead with a few surprises for her favorite DP dude. Miller as Weasel gets a moment or two to shine with his favorite stool warmer.
Kapicic returns as the understanding and patient Colossus and I think he is the only one that true gets Wade/Deadpool. Baccarin as Vanessa is back to bring positive reinforcement and a good lap dance to her favorite super hero.
A serious shout out to Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, the one person who knows that Wade is a miserable human being sometimes yet accepts him the same. She might not be able to see but I’d let her defend me anytime, provided I can point the gun.
Also, Karan Soni as Dopinder who finally gets the opportunity to show what he’s made of – taxi and all. Shioli Kutsuna makes an appearance as Yukio who has the cutest exchanges with Deadpool and Eddie Marsan as the butt-head-master of Essex Orphanage.
Lets give a round of applause to Terry Crews as Bedlam, Lewis Tan as Shatterstar, Bill Skarsgard as Zeitgeist, Rob Delaney as Peter and Brad Pitt as Vanisher. Also, who can forget the amazing Jack Kesy as Black Tom Cassidy.
I think I’ve made if fairly clear that I am a huge Deadpool fan and if you thought I’d be giving any spoilers out well then I’m happy to disappoint you. From the moment the film begins to its very, very, VERY end (this is my way of saying stay after the credits), Reynolds and his band of merry misfits provide such a good time that a second viewing is going to be required.
Laughing so much I can say that I probably missed half the jokes and I’m fairly certain I’m lucky to be alive as I was eating popcorn during the film. I do know that I couldn’t catch my breath most of the time which means not only was I having a good time but if I did drop dead I would be alright if it was Deadpool’s fault.
So leave the other “superheroes” to fly away in a wind of feathers (not sure what that was but if you saw that ‘other’ movie you’ll understand) and gather up everyone who needs to laugh themselves silly and head to DEADPOOL 2.
Have an extraordinary experience and remember he’s only here to show you a good time.
In the end – prepare for the ultimate second coming!
ON CHESIL BEACHShows Life Regret
This Friday from the works of Ian McEwan, director Dominic Cooke and Bleeker Street is a story of young awkwardness ON CHESIL BEACH.
It is 1962 and Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) is a young woman with a love of music and a strong will. Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) is an awkward young man living in a home with understanding father Lionel (Adrian Scarborough), two sisters and mother Marjorie (Anne-Marie Duff) who has suffered from an accident.
Thrilled that he has received high marks in school but no one to tell about it, Edward wandered into town. There he meets Florence and is taken immediately with her and they quickly become a couple. Always together, talking and sharing both the families see where the relationship is heading.
On their honeymoon, there is still an awkwardness that Edward tries to help Florence through. When it all becomes too much for Florence, the couple end up on the beach and a secret is revealed that could change the course of their dreams forever.
Words can sometimes haunt us forever.
Ronan as Florence has once again given us a strong, memorable and stellar performance. I have longed believed there isn’t a role that this young actress couldn’t capture and ON CHESIL BEACH proves it. There is such a depth to this young character and levels of Florence trying to keep herself together and, at any moment, the wire could suddenly snap. It is Ronan that keeps control of that wire and does so brilliantly.
Howle as Edward is a young man who finds in Florence one thing in his life that makes sense. He is moved by her and, in a sense, believes she is everything he needs. Willing to work for her father to be a providing husband, even his own father Lionel believes Florence is good for him. Howle has an innocence about him and that wraps deeply into the heart of this character.
Scarborough as Lionel is a man who sees what the accident has done to his wife and is amazed when Florence brings such change in her. Duff as Marjorie is living the best life she can since the accident. Watson as Florence’s mother Violet constantly tests the young girl will as only this fine actress can do.
Other cast include Samuel West as Geoffrey Ponting, Bebe Cave as Ruth Ponting, Bronte Carmichael as Chloe, and Jonjo O’Neill as Phil.
ON CHESIL BEACHis a stunning look at an innocent time where secrets have no way out and truths don’t fit it. Both of these young people have issues that are so deeply engrained in who they are, it was inevitable that something would come to the surface.
It is in their reactions that the stories are truly told, yet each does not see the answers in the other. Instead, anger and frustration take over and in flash one decision in life can be devastating. That is what is so heartbreaking about this story for me, that even when faced the choice once again, it is decision that can either right things or stay on the path of nothing.
Ronan and Howle are heartbreaking to watch and artfully beautiful at the same time. Experiencing their characters struggle to find a way out of their pain is worth every moment on screen. Well done, absolutely well done.
The novella On Chesil Beach by British writer Ian McEwan has been translated into several languages and was nominated in 2007 for the Booker Prize.
In the end – life can still change when you do nothing.
SOLO: A Star Wars Story
Coming to theaters this week from director Ron Howard and Walt Disney Studios comes the story of a scruffy-looking-nerf-herder in SOLO: A Star Wars Story.
On Coreillia, a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is trying to get away from the miserable and abusive life on the planet. Wanting to bring the girl who has his heart Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), he devises a plan that will test his piloting skills. Mere steps from the transport that will take them away, they are spotted and Qi'ra pushes Han to leave without her. Pledging that he will return for her, there is only one thing he can do to make that happen and immediately joins the Imperial Navy who give him the name Han Solo.
Several years go by and Han still is having a difficult time. Kicked out of the Imperial Flight Academy, he ends up on Mimban fighting in a battle as an infantryman. That's when Han notices Imperial Officer Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton) and follows him to discover that he is actually an imposter but not before Tobias has him arrested and thrown in a pit where he meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).
Managing to escape from prison, Han and Chewbacca make their way back to Tobias who sees potential and brings them aboard his ship. Getting help with his next job, Han learns that the leader of the Crimson Dawn, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), is expecting a shipment of something called coaxium and Tobias is going after it. The problem is there is someone else interested in doing the same thing which puts Tobias, Han and Chewbacca in danger.
The meeting with Vos is not something Tobias is looking forward to but Han is shocked to see Qi'ra there all grown up and Vos' right hand woman. Feeling that their lives are in danger, it is Han who says that they can steal unprocessed coaxium from the mines on Kessel. Agreeing to the plan, Vos also sends Qi'ra with them and she locates smugger Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). In a game of poker brings them all aboard the Millennium Falcon to Kessel and once they get their bounty they have little time to get the unstable coaxium back to Vos.
But they is also the Cloud Riders led by Enftys Nest as the group learns that they are only trying to make a difference by aiding the rebellion against the Empire. When they arrive to delivery to Vos, he informs them that he knows what they've been doing and how he knows shocks Han and Chewbacca. Now Han must deal with the traitor, save a friend and make things right for the Cloud Riders - and he will definitely make sure all scores are settled.
Ehrenreich as Solo does a fine job as the young Solo. He has the look of someone who doesn't take orders well and isn't about to be told what to do, that's important. He throws out the arrogant confidence and silly charm that I'd expect from Han Solo. That being said there is something not quite right - oh yes, it isn't Harrison Ford. Look, I get that it's hard to walk in on a role that has been made iconic by another actor, in fact I give Ehrenreich props for doing it, but I can't make the leap in years between this young Han and the Han of 1976.
Clarke as Qi'ra is another character that I'm afraid will end up with its own film (gawd please don't). Kind of broke my heart a little that Leia wasn't Han's first love but the more I got to know Qi'ra the less I worried about her. The chemistry between Clarke and Ehrenreich is good. Glover as Calrissian gave a charmer performance and he gave the character swagger and capes. His robot counterpart was far funnier and more interesting to watch however.
Harrelson as Beckett is a smuggler who is going to go with who ever is going to pay him the most. Being a traitor seemed to come naturally to this character and Harrelson gives it his smirk and calmness that ends up being some of the trademarks found in Han. Newton as Val has a small role that works with Beckett and is the smuggler with a heart.
Bettany as Vos is a bad guy who doesn't give one wit of care who knows it or what anyone else thinks of it. In fact he only answers to one person (sorry, no spoiler for you!) so how he handles situations goes easily unchecked.
Big shout out to Suotamo as Chewbacca because I think this is the first film that I've seen him in where he's "talked" so much! It must be said that seeing him on the Millenium Falcon was uber cool.
Other cast include Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37, Jon Favreau as Rio Durant, Linda Hunt as Lady Proxima, Ian Kenny as Rebolt, John Tui as Korso, and Warwick Davis as Weazel.
Now that I've given you background lets get right to it, SOLO: A Star Wars Story is just that and nothing more - a story. There isn't anything in this film that makes me thrilled and may answer only one question that I hadn't thought to ask. The rest is what I call Star Wars noise and that's about it. There were laughs, action and plenty of symbolism and nods to the original Star Wars and there isn't anything wrong with that.
I guess my problem is I wanted something more, something unexpected, something - something! It's hard to explain it unless you can have a conversation with the 1976 version of me. I think the fact that Han is gone, Luke is gone and Leia is really gone, it is hard for me to care about this film because I never really needed to know the back story of characters. I trusted who they were from the beginning and was happy with that.
Now ROGUE ONE was cool because it didn't involve the main three characters but instead the story of how R2-D2 got the Death Star plans. That took me in a direction that was where I wanted to go, SOLO just really doesn’t do that. I mean I go for the ride but I’m happy when it’s over.
This is another difficult Star Wars review to write because I am an original die hard fan, yes I stood in line every Saturday for months to go for the ride and I didn’t need any urging. That’s what I want from anyone who dares to take on the task of making these “A Star Wars Story” film and we all know there are more on the horizon (deep sigh).
I think I also feel a bit like someone is treading on my memories, on my love of the galaxy far, far away. I didn’t embrace these characters but instead wanted to offer them a cup of blue milk in a traveler cup and send them on their way.
SOLO: A Star Wars Story isn’t bad, it’s filled with a lot that fans love and that is going to have to be enough.
In the end - never tell him the odds!
My Take on SOLO: A Star Wars Story
Daring an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo (Alden Erenrich) meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) years before joining the Rebellion.
The story centers on young Solo looking for a way to get himself and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) off their home world of Corellia and across the galaxy to a life outside of shipbuilding and the growing strength of the Empire.
However, after being separated during an escape, Solo falls into military service with the empire. Three years of war shows him much, including a chance meeting with smugglers (Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton) who see how great a pilot and asset he can be.
After freeing an enslaved Wookie, the gang is set up for a train job, stealing fuel for a notorious gangster (Paul Bettany). When the crew doesn’t deliver, they must pay by alternative means, or with their lives. A chance reunion with Qi’ra, the help of a suave gambler, a Kessel run, and double crosses will help shape this young buck into a dangerous but fair smuggler in his own right.
The second installment in Lucasfilms Anthology Star Wars films, Solo delivers on cool sets, fun nods to known history, and awesome visuals. What the film lacks however, is a sense of purpose. While fun to look at, the movie feels lacking of depth.
Rogue One delivered on characters we never knew, thus giving no expectations and earning our love and eventual heartbreak. Solo comes with expectations and delivers few.
Erenreich carries himself with great poise and delivers a commendable performance, good but not great. He’s has the Charm of Ford, just not the danger. Harrelson as his mentor, Beckett delivers superb with wit and self awareness. He knows what movie he’s in, and is enjoying it without chewing scenery.
Emilia Clarke is doing all she can to create a career after Game of Thrones and while this is a good step for her, it’s not a memorable one. While never being the damsel in distress, she’s also not much help.
Donald Glover is the scene stealer of this film. From his first frame, he understands and owns the character of Lando Calrissian. He even sounds like Billy Dee Williams. His relationship with L3-37 (Phobe Waller-Bridge) is fun, funny, and sincere. The role of L3 is similar to that of K2 in Rogue One, but with less smartass and more politics.
Ron Howard does an excellent job of shaping and steering the story line where it needs to go. While we will probably never see he film as was intended by Lord and Miller, this does feel like more of a Star Wars film than what was reported earlier last year.
My biggest issue with the film is that for all that happens, you know your main cast will never be in any real peril. That sucks some of the suspense and thrills out of the film.
While that’s no ones fault in the cast, it does hurt the idea of making films on characters we know are still alive, or will die in later installments. The train heist and Kessel run are fun highlights of the movie. All in all, go and enjoy it, but don’t expect too much.
It’s a small story told on a grand scale.
A Second Chance at College and Being LIFE OF THE PARTY
The hilarious minds of Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are at it again along with Warner Bros. for another chance at being LIFE OF THE PARTY.
Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) and husband Dan (Matt Walsh) are dropping off daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) for her final year at college. Excited about their upcoming trip to Italy, Deanna is thrown a curve pizza when Dan announces 50 feet from the dorm steps that he wants a divorce.
Deanna is thrown to learn that he has been having a fling with a real estate agent named Marci (Julie Bowen). Going to her own parents, Sandi (Jackie Weaver) and Mike (Stephen Root), they argue sandwiches and not finishing college. That’s when Deanna makes a decision that needs one other persons input – daughter Maddie.
Deanna announces that she is going back to school to finish the last year and get her degree in archeology. Maddie is happy but uneasy about sharing the college life with her mother. Thrilled for her is bestie Christine (Maya Rudolph) and Maddie’s friends Amanda (Adria Arjona), Debbie (Jessie Ennis) and Helen (Gillian Jacobs).
Moving into the dorm, roommate Leonor (Heidi Gardner) is a little Goth and a little sunshine deprived. Immediately, Maddie and the girls decide that Deanna needs to experience a college party. After a quick change of appearance she meets Jack (Luke Benward) and wakes to the morning walk of shame.
Quickly Deanna gets into the groove of studying, being part of the girls’ lives and occasionally meeting up with Jack. Keeping Christine informed of her antics, she learns that ex-hubby Dan is already making plans to get remarried. Leave it to the girls to make sure that she doesn’t spend that day alone but after a few party favors they take their act on the reception road.
That sets into motion the news that Deanna doesn’t have the money to finish college. Of course needing a reason to have a party in college isn’t a required but this might be the exception!
McCarthy as Deanna is sweet, charming, motherly and a tad embarrassing but don’t let that fool you when it comes to being protective. She has her ways of making sure that no one changes who she wants to be so don’t let the curls fool you. McCarthy delivers comedy that is so relatable and, in fact, the character of Deanna is someone we all know. Well, maybe not the tacky sweaters but the situation of loving being a wife and mother until you realize one of those wasn’t real. McCarthy is a gal I’d love to hang out with. Plan to laugh at the movie – A LOT!
Rudolph as Christine is the best partner-in-crime to have and will take a body shot while still loving you. Living a tad vicariously through Deanna, Christine doesn’t have it so bad at home. I mean any husband who gets hot about his middle aged wife in ankle socks doesn’t have much to complain about in life. Rudolph is funny and another chick I’d love to hang out with.
Gordon as Maddie isn’t completely thrilled to discover Mom is going to share her final year of college. Once seeing her friends are on board with it, Maddie knows Mom isn’t trying to take anything from her. Jacobs as Helen is a big disturbing and completely hilarious. Ennis as Debbie and Arjona as Amanda completely love having Deanna around. Benward as Jack loves having Deanna around for completely different reasons!
Gardner as Leonor is completely misunderstood but takes a ninja-like liking to her dorm mate. Weaver as Mom Sandi just wants everyone to have a sandwich and Dad Mike just wants to shoot Dan – typical parents.
Walsh as Dan is a dude who is literally being led around by his – ummm – earring. Bowen as Marci is a woman who demands control of every aspect of her life and her soon-to-be-husbands as well. Jones as Christine’s husband Frank goes along to get along!
Other cast includes Sarah Baker as Gildred, Nax Faxon as Lance, Shannon Purser as Connie, Chris Parnell as Mr. Truzack, Debbie Ryan as Jennifer, Jimmy O. Yang as Tyler, Leli Hernandez as Mia, Yani Simone as Trina, Damon Jones as Frank, Michele Jang as Linda, Chris Cavalier as Eugene, Christina Aguilera and Ben Falcone as the Uber Driver.
LIFE OF THE PARTY is completely hysterical, full of surprises and loaded with charm and oh so much fun. I would expect nothing less from McCarthy and Falcone who seem to just embrace the silliness of life. The cast is just perfect lending their own unique characters to a loaded film of funny. This film is perfect for the Mother’s Day weekend coming up because, well, we love our Mom’s.
This is a wonderful way to celebrate the day with a bunch of flowers, brunch and then off to the movies to spend quality time having a few giggles together. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to have to see the film again because there were times I was laughing so hard I missed a line or two. LIFE OF THE PARTY is a film I absolutely won’t mind seeing again and again.
In the end – give life the old college try!
TULLY is an Amazing and Relatable Story
Coming to theatres this Friday from writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman along with Focus Features is the stunning story with TULLY.
Marlo (Charlize Theron) is a pregnant mother of two making it one day at a time. Taking care of eight year old Sarah (Lia Frankland) and six year old Jonah (Asher Fallica) is taking it’s toll. Jonah also needs special attention and Marlo is immediately informed that perhaps her son needs a different school.
Husband Drew (Ron Livingston) does a lot of traveling on business and not noticing that Marlo is starting to feel the stress of – well – everything. Craig (Mark Duplass) is Marlo’s brother who is well off and sees that his sister is not herself. As a well-meaning gift, he has paid for a night-nanny so that she can get some rest.
Having the baby seems to make Marlo even more tired and out of sorts. She finally agrees to have a night-nanny and meets Tully (Mackenzie Davis). A little on edge at first, one night of sleep and waking up to a clean house gives life a brighter outlook thanks to Tully.
There is so much more to this young life saver as Marlo begins to find a friend who comes to her home every night and just listens. They talk, laugh and try to figure out this complexities of life. Tully becomes Marlo’s life cheerleader of sorts and she starts to find her way back to the family and Drew.
But there comes a time when Tully explains to Marlo that she must be moving on. Dismayed and confused, Marlo is caught up in what she will do next – and that’s when a realization hits her like a car into a tree.
Life is like that sometimes.
Theron as Marlo is absolutely incredible and shows us once again why she is an iconic actress who can bring a character such depth. Last year we saw her as a total badass in ATOMIC BLONDE and here she is, 50 lbs. heavier, playing a woman more than a few of us can relate to. Hair a mess, dropping off kids here and there, breastfeeding, going to school functions and meetings, making dinner, trying to keep house and forgetting what it’s like to be desirable to a husband, the character of Marlo is so much deeper. I love every second of this film.
Davis as Tully is energetic, wild, lovely and sees the world as many of us either can’t remember anymore or do but won’t admit it to ourselves. From the moment this character steps into Marlo’s life, Davis brings everything she has and does so with an ease that is remarkable. The final scene between Tully and Marlo proves my point on so many levels so be prepared for tissue time!
Livingston as Drew is a husband who just wants to keep things status quo. He loves being a husband and a dad but has disconnected in ways that he doesn’t know how to fix. Duplass as Craig is a brother who seems unaware that inviting his sister over to his very wealthy surroundings doesn’t help matters much. In the midst of that it is clear that he loves his sister very much.
Frankland as Sara is smarter than her young years and she knows that something isn’t quite right at home. Fallica as Jonah is a young boy who is trying to find his place and I personally think he is smarter than given credit for.
Other cast includes Elaine Tran as Elyse, Maddie Dixon-Poirier as Emmy, Colleen Wheeler as Dr. Smythe, Joshua Pak as Dallas, Gameela Wright as Laurie and Bella Star Choy as Greta.
TULLY is a film that is going to blow people away, absolutely drop jaws. This film runs the emotional course that, as a mother, I totally felt every bit of her predicament. The emotions portrayed here are done in a way that is funny, head smacking and heart breaking.
Diablo Cody has once again written a script that is real, solid and life capturing. Director Reitman takes that script and brings the only woman I can imagine being Marlo and letting her run with the story.
This is a tale of a life that is messy, unpredictable, regretful and not regretful, disconnected and yet it all makes sense squished together to bring a beauty that I will not soon forget. TULLY is the kind of film that I miss seeing and hope Ms. Cody won’t wait so long to write another script about life and what we do with it.
In the end – this is how the mother half lives!
RAMPAGE Lets Loose!
In theatres this Friday from director Brad Peyton and New Line Cinema is a story about a man, his friend and saving a city from RAMPAGE.
Up in space, an explosion of an experimental station sends debris falling from the sky including canisters that the Chicago based Energyn company wants back. Claire (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy) are siblings who want to make sure no one else gets their hands on it.
Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) works with animals at a sanctuary and his best friend is an albino gorilla named George. Speaking to one another through sign language, they have a connection of friendship and humor.
Later that night George finds the canister as it opens shooting a mist into his face. The next morning Davis and his team discover that George is not only acting peculiar but has grown in size. Wanting to know what has happened to his friend, Davis meets Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a geneticist who tells him what has happened.
Showing up to take George is OGA-man Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who knows everything about Davis and Kate. Russell shares with them that George isn’t the only creature on the loose – there is another! The one thing the OGA doesn’t know is that the Wyden siblings have set off a signal calling to both creatures.
Now Davis, Kate and Russell are racing against time to save George before the military makes there move. Plus – there is one other large thing they need to take care of as well.
Johnson as Davis comes on strong and keeps it going from beginning to end. Of course he is charming, funny and has one-liners that absolutely work giving his character a fun edge. That could be considered odd since he is fighting big creatures but hey, you have to enjoy it a little bit or why else save the world with your friend George.
Harris as Kate has her own bone to pick with the Wyden siblings and at the same time wants to help Davis understand what is happening. Knowing things are out of control means jumping right in or perhaps more like jumping right out of things falling all around them.
Morgan as Russell grabs his swagger and quickly learns to believe what he is told by Davis. During the screening, the moment Morgan came on the screen the audience went buck wild. Of course the word ‘oh wow, it’s Negan’ was heard loud and clear but this character is the opposite of the bat-toting psycho. Instead, Russell is in it to help Davis and Kate because missiles aren’t friendly and downtown Chicago doesn’t need anymore renovating than necessary.
Akerman as Claire owns a company that obviously doesn’t care one wit about the human race. She also doesn’t care about ‘liquidating’ anyone that gets in her way. Cold and calculated doesn’t even begin to cover it and brother Brett played by Lacey is just along for the ride leaving sister Claire to do all the dirty work.
Other cast include Joe Manganiello as Burke, Marley Shelton as Dr. Atkins, P.J. Byrne as Nelson, Demetrius Grosse as Col. Blake, Jack Quaid as Connor, Breanne Hill as Amy and Will Yun Lee as Agent Park.
RAMPAGE is pretty much everything you’d think – it’s predictable, a bit hokey, unbelievable with the usual destruction of a major city (this time Chicago) and yet I didn’t care not one little bit. Instead I absolutely had a good time reveling in all those points because hey, it’s Dwayne Johnson and that’s all anyone needs to know.
George is cute and very funny and actually makes a pretty awesome partner for Johnson. I mean if you are going to play opposite The Rock, you better bring some muscle of your own. If you are looking for the bigger picture of the film it’s that George and Davis know the true meaning of friendship and don’t mind kicking a little creature butt to prove it.
This is a big-tub-of-popcorn-share-with-the-family-no-brainer-fun-adventure-action film that the whole family can see. It’s nice to just let a movie be exactly what it is, a movie that gives us all a chance to forget where we are, cheer on the big guy (either one works) and walk away feeling like a good time was had by all.
In the end – big meets bigger!
Butterfield, Burstyn and Offerman Epically Shine in the THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW
Coming to theatres from writer/director Peter Livolsi based on the novel by Peter Bognanni and Shout! Studios is the ideals of the past, frozen in the present with eyes toward the THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW.
Living in a dome house in the woods is Sebastian Prendergast (Asa Butterfield), a young teenager living with his grandmother Josephine (Ellen Burstyn) studying the philosophies of R. Buckminster Fuller. Josephine has kept Sebastian sequestered from the rest of the world and it will soon become obvious to the young man.
Alan Whitcomb (Nick Offerman) arrives at the House of Tomorrow with a church group to hear all about the history of Buckminster along with son Jared (Alex Wolff) and Meredith (Maude Apatow). While speaking with the kids, Josephine ends up in the hospital and that's when Alan and Jared notice that Sebastian isn't an ordinary teenager.
Sebastian may be different but then again so is Jared. When Alan makes an attempt to help along a friendship, Jared isn't the warm and fuzzy type. Yet Sebastian takes the initiative to visit the Whitcomb home and learns that Jared is different in his own way. Meredith sees Sebastian's innocence as sweet and notices that her brother has truly taken an interest in life.
Learning about one another is awkward yet school is in session as their friendship turns to music and all the things Sebastian has been missing outside of his dome-cocoon. Josephine spends her time coming up with ideas to get more people into the dome for visits but also notices that something is changing about her grandson. Feeling him pulling away causes an emotional showdown.
When Alex and Sebastian decide to start a band and perform - they are up against a grandmother who refuses to budge from the past, an over protective father who is afraid of the present and a future that can only shine for the House of Tomorrow.
Butterfield as Sebastian has once again embraced a role that is deep, endearing and innocent. Smarter than the average teen and a vocabulary even an adult would shy away from, it is when he crosses to the outer-side that the two worlds mesh and he makes it his own. Butterfield not only has the ability to show every fiber of innocence but when he lets loose, he also has the ability to make us all cheer for him!
Wolff as Jared is a young man dealing with an over protective father and a mother with problems of her own. Finding an unusual friendship with Sebastian turns out to be just what the doctor ordered. Trying to find his own place in the world, Jared finds it in music, taking chances by breaking away bringing Sebastian with him. I truly enjoyed Wolff in this role and I admit he also made me laugh - a lot, and because just as Sebastian has a way of talking, so does Jared.
Offerman as Dad Alan is raising two teen kids who are clearly strong willed and, once in a while, cause him to cringe with things they say and do. I have to say that Offerman has the calmness of a saint with all the shenanigans happening in his home as well as finding he has another teen in his home. When Alex needs him the most, Alan kicks into over drive and starts to see his son differently. Apatow as Meredith is the girl who is irritated with Dad, insulting with brother and leery of Mom - in other words a typical teenager. She sees something in Sebastian that gives her a little more hope that life still can be surprising.
Burstyn as Josephine has lived her life attacked to that of R. Buckminster Fuller. Believing in the philosophies that the world can be a better place, she has raised her grandson to make a difference in the world. Of course when he becomes aware of the outside world, and a Pepsi, she becomes distraught thinking he will be lost to it all. I absolutely adore Burstyn, always have, and her role in THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW reminds me (as if I need it) of the astronomical level of her talent.
Writer Peter Bognanni teaches creative writing in Minnesota and won the Los Angeles Time Book Prize and the ALA Alex Award for the novel The House of Tomorrow. His second book is Things I'm Seeing Without You is a story of love, loss and loving again.
THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW is a beautiful film that wraps the past, present and future all around the heart. As someone who is well aware of R. Buckminster Fuller, I truly loved that his presence is mixed in the story and was surprised to learn the piece of footage with Burstyn and Fuller is actually real. Just that moment in the film brings the viewer into it all on an even deeper level.
Keeping the cast to a minimum is also something that I truly enjoyed about the story. Focusing on the relationship between Josephine, Sebastian and the Whitcomb's lets our hearts open to endearment, coming of age, change and even a bit of laughter. This story is about five very different people discovering that grandmothers can be sticklers, fathers know more than they say and that kids reach a point where breaking away sometimes means breaking the rules.
In the end - make your own future!
TAG Reminds Us You’re Never Too Old to Play
Coming to theatres this week from director Jeff Tomsic and New Line Cinema is a game that takes childhood into adulthood just by a simple TAG.
Hoagie (Ed Helms), Chili (Jake Johnson), Callahan (Jon Hamm), Sable (Hannibal Buress) and Jerry (Jeremy Renner) have been friends since childhood. Following them into adulthood is a game they look forward to for a whole month – tag!
Well, May has rolled around and it’s on beginning with Hoagie recruiting the guys with a new plan aimed at the one man who hasn’t been tagged in thirty years. Jerry is a pro at the game and plays with precision and, well, ingenuity really. This time Hoagie convinces the guys that the best place to finally make it happen is at Jerry’s wedding.
Following the group is Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis), a reporter who started one story but found this to be much more interesting. Also, Hoagie’s wife Anna (Isla Fisher), a very intense and hands on supporter of her husband’s dream of getting Jerry.
Heading home for the wedding, the boys meet Jerry’s bride Susan (Leslie Bibb) who knows about the game and begs them all too please hold off and let her have her dream day. Signing a pact to be off limits to certain events, it doesn’t stop them from trying.
Jerry brings in the big guns when Cheryl (Rashida Jones) manages to keep Chili and Callahan emotionally busy, Sable just goes with the flow and Hoagie continues to plot. Mayhem and friendship go hand in hand with these boys in the longest running game of tag ever.
Helms as Hoagie is dedicated to one goal – getting Jerry. Putting himself in crazy situations to make that happen is something Helms is used to doing because he does it so damn well. Johnson as Chili may have started out with a few goals but finds himself pretty much back to life’s square one. As much as he fights getting into the game, it doesn’t take much to become all in.
Hamm as Callahan wants to go for the gold where Jerry is concerned and looks good in a suit while doing it. Buress as Sable is easy going and the quiet under-comic relief. His sassy comes in smaller waves but it hilarious just the same.
Renner as Jerry is the obvious ninja in the group having perfects his moves and ability to remain untouched after 30 years. Looking sharp and having all the right connections, Renner’s character is sharp and prepared for anything.
Fisher as Anna can be hostile, explosive and charming all in 2.5 seconds and I loved it. Supporting her man she wants in the game so badly but a rule created in the initial tag agreement doesn’t include girls. That’s not going to stop her from trying! Bibb as Susan smiles her way into the group wanting a beautiful wedding without boyish tricks. Jones as Cheryl is a diversion sent in by Jerry with a history that plays to his advantage.
Other cast include Brian Dennehy as Chili’s father, Nora Dunn as Linda, Sebastian Maniscalco as Pastor, and Steve Berg as Lou.
TAG is based on an article written in The Wall Street Journal about a group of men from Spokane, Washington who played the game of tag one month a year for 23 years.
TAG is just that, a romp of a film that proves boys can still be boys in the most epic way possible. Personally I think it’s fantastic that this band of mischief (great name guys if you want to start a rock group!) continue to find the most creative ways of keeping the game alive. The film is also about a rock solid friendship that has just found a way to stay connected.
Isn’t that what we are all trying to do in this world of disillusion and disconnect? These men who really continue to do this are defying the odds in that childhood friendships are just memories for most of us. The game of tag for these tag-artists is based around the one thing we seem to forget as we get older – mashing memories, fun and a genuine effort to stay connected through a simple game.
TAG is fun, funny, charming and doesn’t ask a lot of its audience. It’s more of a ‘sit back – we got this’ kind of movie and I’m more than okay with that. The laughs are there and a bucket of popcorn is icing on the cake. The ending is a tad hokey but then again who said it stops there?
In the end – based on a true story and we’re not kidding!
BEIRUT Tells a Deeper Story
In theatres from director Brad Anderson and Bleeker Street Media is a story with twists that lead to truth while in BEIRUT.
Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is a diplomat in Beirut keeping his finger on the pulse of what is happening around him, or so he thought. During a party, Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino) comes to warn him that the young boy Karim, who the family has practically adopted, is going to be taken in for questioning. His older brother Abu Rajal (Hicham Ouraqa) is a Palestinian terrorist involved in the massacre at the Munich Olympics
Before that can happen, the party is terrorized as bullets fly and Karim is grabbed. In the midst of the firefight, Skiles wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) is killed. Fast forward a few years and Skiles has reached rock bottom as a labor negotiator job he barely cares about and swimming in alcohol.
Sitting at a bar with his favorite drink, Skiles is approached to take money and a plane ticket back to Beirut to lecture at the university. Never wanting to return to Beirut again, something tells him to get aboard the plane. Once there he is met by Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike), Donald Gaines (Dean Norris), and Gary Ruzak (Shea Whigham) who finally tell him why he’s really there – Cal Riley has been taken and the kidnappers only want to negotiate with Skiles.
Discovering it is a grown Karim (Idir Chender) who is calling the shots and only trusts Skiles to make the exchange happen. An exchange is demanded, Riley for Karim’s brother who seems to have disappeared. Believing that it is the Israeli’s who have him, Skiles investigates and also discovers the PLO minister is keeping secrets as well.
In the middle of this is a war in a war torn country that is getting more and more out of hand by the minute. No one can be trusted and deception seems to be the order of the minute.
Crowder is trying to keep up with Skiles as he slips through the city discovering that there is more at play here than just Riley’s kidnapping. There are others in the governments involved and their seedy agenda becomes clear.
Both Skiles and Crowder are going to make the exchange happen but on their terms.
Hamm as Skiles begins as a man who seems to have the charming ability to move in a crowd and do what needs doing. Once the world he thought he knew was shattered, there didn’t seem to be any purpose to anything Skiles does. That is until Riley is taken does he slowly come out of the daze and snaps back into discovering he is the absolute right person to get the job done. Hamm’s performance is intense yet his character takes a moment to remember in the middle of rubble how all of the events came to be.
Pike as Crowder wants to believe that Skiles is right for the job and that’s the dilemma. Knowing someone is right for a job and seeing the state they are currently in means never being quite sure if they can be trusted. Pike shines as a woman who not only takes her job seriously but knows that playing the international game of cat and mouse puts her right in the middle of danger.
Chender as Karim is caught up in the what is happening in Beirut. Finding a life with Skiles as a young boy he enjoyed being with them. The moment he is taken it is clear that studying and being part of the family will quickly become a distant memory. When the time comes to trust someone, that may be the one thing Karim knows to be true about Skiles. Chender gives his character such complexity in a situation none of us could possibly understand. This is the life mixed with what was and what became of a young life.
Other cast include Dean Norris as Donald Gaines, Shea Whigham as Gary Ruzak, Douglas Hodge as Sully, Jonny Coyne as Bernard Teppler, Leila Bekhti as Nadia, Kate Fleetwood as Alice, Alon Aboutboul as Roni Niv, Sonia Okacha as Sondrine and Mohamed Zouaoui as Fahmi.
BEIRUT is a film that is a reminder of the fragile peace and intense wars in the Middle East that are waged with others calling the shots. Their agendas may seem up front but for everyone to get what they want, deals are made and deals are brokered in 1982.
The cast are quick with a storyline that is constantly in flux and never once give away which way the chase will go or how it will end. The cinematography is flawless and adds another depth to the very intense story being told.
In the end – Beirut of 1982 and the Paris of the Middle East is burning!
In theatres this Friday from director Roar Uthaug and Warner Bros. Pictures is the beginning adventure of Lara Croft becoming the Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a young woman trying to find her place by making it on her own. She really doesn't need to since her father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), who has been missing for seven years, left his daughter an inheritance. When family friend Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas) bails Lara out of a problem, she is told it is time to sign the papers legally declaring her father dead.
Agreeing to finally do so, family lawyer Mr. Yaffe (Derek Jacobi) is presented with a puzzle and in it is something that sets Lara off on a quest for answers. Finding clues to the last place her father went, she discovers a diary and maps along with a cryptex with a story about a Japanese Queen and a power that has the capability of world destruction.
Lara makes her way to the Far East in search of a man named Lu Ren, instead she finds the son, also Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) who is shocked to learn that they have something in common. Explaining that they both need answers about their fathers, Lu and Lara head off to a dangerous island that shows them no mercy.
So much so that the ship is grounded and Lara is washed ashore only to be taken by Mathias Vogel (Walton Coggins). He is thrilled at the new island arrival because she holds the answers he has spent seven years looking for. Lara has no plan on letting Vogel get away with what he is doing and manages to escape. In an adventure within an adventure, she is surprised to find someone else on the island she hasn't expected to see.
Vogel finds the tomb and along with his well weaponized mercenaries forces Lara to go in first and lead them to the final resting place of the Queen of Death. The horror that awaits them is nothing they are prepared for but that isn't going to stop Lara from doing the right thing and save the world!
Vikander as Lara shows the beginnings of Lara Croft and how hard headed and yet still an adrenaline junkie she is. Wanting to avoid signing the papers declaring her father dead, she is told by Ana that if it doesn’t happen, Lara will lose everything that her father built. Vikander literally jumps into action and I can clearly see why she was chosen to be a younger Lara Croft.
Coggins as Vogel has made being a bad guy so deliciously easy. All balled up with anger at being forced to live in a dangerous place for seven years, he isn’t very forgiving. Looking for the one thing that can bring him home means nothing or no one, not even Lara Croft, is going to get in his way. Coggins is an actor who can play a good guy (or gal), a mediocre guy and a bad guy – all with such skill. Can you tell I’m a fan?
Wu as the younger Lu Ren is a boat owner who doesn't want to get involved with Lara's mystery. Talking him into it isn't hard and after being thrown on the island with Lara, he jumps into the action when seeing how wrong everything around him is. Of course I am a serious fan of Wu and if you've seen the AMC series Into the Badlands where he plays Sunny, you'd be hooked on him too.
West as Lord Richard Croft raises his young daughter but leads a very secretive life. As Lara gets older she accepts her father's 'business' trips with ease knowing that her father loves her. West takes the role of Richard and gives the audience a little more back story and experience the father-daughter relationship.
Thomas as Ana has been keeping Croft Holdings up and running for Lara but knows its time for decisions to be made so she doesn't lose what her father has left behind. I have to say I love seeing Thomas taken on a shady character.
Other cast includes: Alexandre Willaume, Tamer Burjaq, Adrian Collins, Keenan Arrison, Andrian Mazive, Milton Schorr and a cameo by Nick Frost.
Okay, time to get real and announce this is where there may be a few spoilers because there is no way to talk about the film without letting things slip here and there. So if you don't want to know - check out right here - still here? Then prepare for a rant.
I want to be taken away and go on an adventure when I'm watching a movie that is suppose to be, well, an adventure. Then a scene takes me completely out of it and I'm spending the rest of the time seeing nothing but what's wrong. Let’s begin being hit by a car, I realize she is Lara Croft but, um, yea, a car usually puts people out of commission for a day at least. Then again I suppose that's what one does when there are daddy issues in the mix.
Then there is a camera left behind seven years after Richard Croft's disappearance. Lara finds it and - low and behold - it works. Really? REALLY? My cell phone can't hold a charge for more than a day and this frikken camera is still working after seven years? Also, knowing a thing or two about keeping a house - is it me or shouldn’t there be more dust and cobwebs in an office that has been left untouched for seven years. I mean not a single cobweb?
Onward trying not to shake my head, the next jaw dropper - I could be wrong but when a tree stabs you in the side and you get sewn up, do you (less than 8 hours later) run top speed through the jungle like Katniss Everdeen hunting President Snow? It could be she is a descendant of Legolas from Lord of the Rings with the ability to run and shoot rapid arrows at close range. Maybe it’s Indian Jones figuring out the traps so that she can get her hands on the Grail? That can’t be possible since Dan Brown has taken care of that faux cup right? Professor Jones must feel sheepish.
I mean seriously we have had the Grail, Priory, Illuminati which, by the way, the original Lara Croft’s father was a part of. Since that’s been covered, it’s on to the new secret sect of crazies called the Trinity. My head is spinning.
Yes, I am completely over it which once again proves to my stubborn self that there is no reason to redo films that are perfectly okay as they are. The thought process should have been this; how about saving millions of dollars and have a Lara Croft: Tomb Raider marathon of the original films and pocket money without out really spending millions. Oh I know, I'm going to get garbage about how old the other film is or how a "new generation" needs a revamp of the story. I'm calling b.s. on that Hollywood.
And as far as the theme song does it really have to be 'Survivor'? This song has been played into the dirt and this is the best you could come up with? What's with calling the film TOMB RAIDER as if Lara Croft is an after thought. Did you think that leaving it off would mean people wouldn't IMDB it to see that this is a remake, rethink, reimaging or anything else re?
So here is the deal - is the film heinous? No, it's just annoying and I hate being annoyed. Is it a good cast? Yes, and in lies another dilemma for me. I don't have issue with the cast at all, I am a Vikander, West and Wu fan and am completely in love with anything Walton Coggins does. I mean really, any guy who can pull off the ever so lovely Venus Van Damn with a heart of gold to sway Tig from Sons of Anarchy fame works for me completely. That’s where my thumbs up ends.
Come on studios! Are you going to rely on Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuaron and Spike Jonze to do all the original film heavy lifting forever?
In the end – her legend begins.
THE LEISURE SEEKER Take a Life Trip
Coming to theatres from director Paolo Virzi and Sony Picture Classics is a film about the journey’s we sometimes need to take to appreciate our lives with THE LEISURE SEEKER.
Stopping to check on her parents, Jane Spencer (Janel Moloney) discovers her parents are not at home. Calling brother Will (Christian McKay), it becomes quickly clear that not only are the folks gone – but so is their motor home called The Leisure Seeker. Family friend Lillian (Dana Ivey) is in a panic wanting them to be found quickly.
But Ella Spencer (Helen Mirren) and husband John (Donald Sutherland) are focusing on their trip. Making one stop to call home to reassure them that everything is fine, Ella does her best to explain that they just want a few days for themselves.
Ella is the commander-in-chief of the road trip and it is clear that something is wrong with John. Once an college professor, he now has moments of forgetfulness and random walks that keep her on high alert. Yet down the road they go remembering their lives together. Stopping at campgrounds they spend evenings with one another and even unexpected events on the road are hilarious.
But, with all trips down memory lane, each of us remember things differently and Ella learns that perhaps some memory’s are best left unspoken.
Mirren as Ella is a woman with the patience of a saint. As Ella and John reminisce about their lives, she is clearly happy with the journey they shared together. That’s not to say there aren’t times of frustration, but their memories and joys are solid in her heart. Mirren is such a fantastic actress and watching her bring this character with such depth and emotion smack forward is a privilege to watch.
Sutherland as John is a man who has lived in a world of knowledge and that world changes daily. The trip with Ella brings back the memories of their own children growing up and the many students he taught. Feeling that things are slowly becoming out of his control, it takes one sentence to bring out a secret that could fracture them. I love Sutherland’s humor mixed with the snide one liners from Mirren, it is a dance they do with such finesse.
Moloney as Jane starts off worrying but slowly listens to her mother Ella say they need time together. Backing off, she tries to convince Will to let them have some time. McKay as Will isn’t as thrilled about the road trip as his sister. Ivey as Lillian has been a friend of the family since their younger years. She believes the trip is insane as well!
THE LEISURE SEEKER is a film that touches every fiber of a human being. The connection for each of us is that this could quite easily be the story of our own parents. For the parents, it could easily be the story of trying to make life easier for their children.
These two elderly parents want to hit the road and feel the wind on their faces. They want to remember the good that has been their lives and come to terms with the not so good moments. Sutherland and Mirren are perfection forcing me to stop and truly listen to the color of their moments.
This film will break hearts because we are witnessing the story of a couple who has seen so much in their lives. Clearly they both have medical issues and yet in the midst of that there is humor that can only be portrayed by these two amazing actors.
I love the music of THE LEISURE SEEKER that adds not only to their attempt at moments of fun but also the amazing love when things go a little wrong. This is a story that I will truly carry with me for a long time to come.
In the end – a once in a lifetime road trip they will never forget!
NOSTALGIA is the Thin Thread Between Our Mementos and Memories
In theatres this Friday from writer/director Mark Pellington and Bleeker Street is the story of lives, love and loss all wrapped around NOSTALGIA.
Ronnie Ashemore (Bruce Dern) is an elderly man who is surrounded by his life of the written word and when visited by insurance agent Daniel Kalman (John Ortiz). Having a look around at the behest of Ronnie's granddaughter, the elderly gentleman makes it clear that there is no reason for him to leave his home. Daniel listens as Ronnie makes it clear that although he is surrounded by the life he shared with family, others might see it all as trash.
Daniel next meets Helen Greer (Ellen Burstyn), a widower who he finds sitting in the midst of ashes where her house once stood. Recalling the events of the fire, Helen explains the irony of the things she chose to save before the firemen came in to save her. One such item is a baseball that belonged to her late husband and she can't explain why she saved it.
Staying with her son Henry (Nick Offerman), Helen feels the pressure he is placing on her to consider assisted living. Helen feels the need to break away and packs the saved belongings and heads for Las Vegas to meet Will Beam (Jon Hamm) to talk to him about the ball. Their conversation turns nostalgic on the power that personal possessions have over each of them.
Will is off for the weekend to help his sister Donna (Catherine Keener) clear out their family home since their parents have moved to Florida. Making trip after trip to a dumpster outside the house, each decides they will take a few things but get rid of everything else. Donna wants daughter Tallie (Annalise Basso) to go through the attic but the young girl makes it clear that this is Donna and Will's history - not hers. Instead, Tallie wants to be with her friends and live in the now.
All of that comes to a screeching halt as Donna, husband Patrick (James LeGros) and Will come to terms with the memories of childhood, places we live, objects held dear and the technology that has changed the feeling of nostalgia.
Burstyn as Helen is an absolute treasure and every time she is on screen I stop in my tracks. In this role she is a widower who has been living on her own but all of that changes in a split second. Watching Burstyn take this character so deep kept me absolutely invested and put my heart through the ringer. Everything she said and every emotion poured out is believable because it is life and even the character Helen knows we don't get out alive. The scene between Helen and the insurance appraiser in the soot is just a true and brain-twisting as her realizations with Will and a baseball. Thank you Ellen for an endearing realistic perspective like no other.
Hamm as Will is a man who hides loss behind his collectables yet how could he know that the moments with Helen would prepare him for what is to come. Going through his parent’s home, this character takes the attitude that he's there to clean out, reminisce a little with sister Donna and move on. Hamm gives such a strong performance and makes it look amazingly easy but let me say when Hamm gets teary eyed - it hurts. Keener as Donna is a woman who is watching her teen daughter grow up so very quickly, has been taking care of her parents and now seeing her childhood close down for the last time. If that isn't enough, life has thrown her the cruelest hit of all. Keener doesn't hold back and she certainly gave me reason to think on her role for several days - she is that powerful.
LeGros as Patrick is a husband who has to be the shoulder his wife needs but also deals with the reality that there was once a time when photographs were everything. Now with cell phones, if that is destroyed then so are the pictures people would normally have as photographs on paper. Dern as Ronnie has a smaller role but it isn't any less impactful. He also understands the life he has lead and those he spent his life loving making no apologies for either.
Other cast includes Bella Pellington, Tamar Pelzig, Romy Rosemont, Amber Tamblyn, Ashlyn Williams, Jennifer Mudge, Chris Marquette, Mark Marcarian, Anna O'Bryan, Joanna Going, Lindsey Kraft, Beth Grant, Patton Oswalt and Hugo Armstrong.
NOSTALGIA is a film that is going to challenge everyone's perception of life. It is true that people of my age hold things dear because that is how we were raised. I was shown how to preserve photographs, baby books, family bibles, baptism gowns and family heirloom jewelry because they are a piece of history that I wanted to pass on to my children. Fortunately, my children are the same and often one will ask if I have something specific from their childhood and are thrilled when I do.
The pull between the objects and our emotions creates a bond that can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. The blessing is for family members who are thrilled to get beloved items and the curse are the family members that don't share the feelings and waste no time in turning everything over for donation fodder.
The film brings out the issue of how easy it is to lose mementos because we have become a world of snapping pictures with our phones or shooting video thinking we will download them later - but rarely do. In an instant the memories we took the time to 'preserve' are lost with a phone dropped in water or just a lost phone period.
NOSTALGIA also brings us into the lives of these characters that are so relatable because everything they are experiencing, we have all experienced with no exception. The loss of parents or loved ones, getting older and looking back means holding the items that represent milestones in our lives and the lives of those we love, and deciding when it is time to let the weight of those things go to find a freedom we didn't know possible.
In truth we are such emotional pack-rats, some of us just let what's inside leak out into our closets, storage rooms and lives.
I love this film, absolutely love it and am unapologetic for it. The cast is completely fascinating and sheer perfection bringing it all together beautifully, sadly and stunningly. The story is real, authentic and so damn emotional that for a moment I wasn't thrilled to feel so much so fast. That's life right?
In the end - it is the memories of the lives lived.
THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL is Stunning Storytelling!
In theatres this week from writer/director Shawn Christensen and A24 is a film that allows us a look inside of a life of secrets with THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL.
Sidney (Logan Lerman) is a young man who sees the world differently than his classmates. He finds solace in writing and is encouraged by his teacher who sees something special in him. Sidney also has a little mystery in his life when a girl who lives across the street lets a bit of her feelings show.
He introduces himself to Melody (Elle Fanning) and they begin a deep relationship that Sidney knows is life changing. What becomes life-altering is when school jock Brett Newport (Blake Jenner) asks Sidney to hold something for him and to tell no one. Happy to oblige, he is also curious about what had Brett so nervous.
What happened between the two young men becomes the subject of Sidney’s book that sky-rockets him to literary stardom. The fame becomes a whirlwind that begins to affect his relationship with Melody and when it all begins to fall apart – Sidney disappears without a trace.
That’s when a detective (Kyle Chandler) begins searching for Sidney who is wanted for a series of fires set in places where there are books. Trying to follow the clues, the detective hopes it will lead to Sidney and answers as to what happened to push this young man toward a path filled with pain.
Lerman as Sidney carries this story and film brilliantly in a way that kept me wondering how much more one life can take. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off his performance because his character is so dedicated to everything he pursued that the pitfalls just crushed my heart. All of that emotion is because of Lerman’s portrayal which is a thing of true beauty.
Fanning as Melody clearly enjoys life, sees the beauty past the pain and loves Sidney. Her character sees the best in Sidney and supports when it all becomes too much for him. Trying to be his support comes at a price that Melody seemed more than willing to pay until it was no longer just she that would pay.
Chandler as the Detective is absolutely amazing in this role. Watching him take each crime scene apart piece by piece to ‘get his man’, it also gives the viewer the same opportunity to go back into Sidney’s life and see what might have gone unnoticed because, like our own lives, it is all in the eye of the beholder. I loved this performance by Chandler but then again if you’ve seen the series Bloodline, you know this actor was certainly up to the challenge in this role.
The must-see breakout performance is Jenner as Brett Newport. This BMOC senior jock walks the hallways of high school in his letterman’s jacket without a care in the world. Sometimes what we think is so true of someone can turn at a moments notice. Jenner’s character brings harshness mixed with a sadness that feels so real for this young man.
Another shout out to Nathan Lane as Harold! Although his role isn’t large, Lane has the unique ability to make every second he is on screen count and playing Harold is no exception. As Harold, Lane is brash, bold and I loved it.
Other cast include Michelle Monaghan as Mrs. Hall, Janina Gavankar as Gina, Margaret Qualley as Alexandra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Duane, Tim Nelson as Johan, Michael Drayer as Max, Christina Brucato as Jeanine, Alex Karpovsky as Bauer, Darren Pettie as Gerald Hall and David Basche as Senator Dale.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL four tubs of popcorn out of five. I know it is early in the year yet I feel like I’ve seen something stellar, heart felt wrapped in an honestly original story. Filled with a weaving of time periods that is done with such ease and yet so compelling to watch.
This is a cast that envelopes every moment of screen time stretching my emotional core and just when I thought I could take a deep breath – twist! Isn’t that what we want from good storytelling and good filmmaking? That’s what this film is all about, testing us all to our emotional limits and rooting for each to release the memories that hold them down.
Trust me when I say there is so much more to the film that I will not put in this review. I truly want everyone who sees this film to experience each moment for themselves and jaw drop at the twists that are nothing short of brilliantly done. The cinematography is equally well done and if you thinks places in the world are just geography – think again.
In the end – it’s all about beginnings.
HOSTILES is the First Epic of 2018
On the vast plains of the 1800's from writer/director Scott Cooper and Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures comes a story of redemption between HOSTILES.
Capt. Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) has spent his military career fighting both wars and himself. Making it clear he has no compassion for Native Americans, he is shocked when the outpost Colonel instructs him by Presidential order to take Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family home to Montana after serving seven years in prison. Being defiant, Blocker tells his superior that he refuses the order but is forced to realize that a court martial is possible.
Along with a detail including Lt. Kidder (Jesse Plemons), Wilks (Bill Camp), Corp. Molinor (Stafford Douglas), and Corp. Woodsen (Jonathan Majors), they lead Chief Yellow Hawk and his family Black Hawk (Adam Beach), Elk Woman (O'orianka Kilcher), Little Bear (Xavier Horsechief) and Living Woman (Tanaya Beatty) across the plains to Montana.
Preparing to stop for the night they come across a burned out home and while investigating discover Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) who is in shock over the death of her family. Capt. Blocker and the men are immediately struck to the bone by what they
see and what she has been through knowing they must accompany her fragile self to the next town.
Chief Yellow Hawk knows that the men who caused the chaos are not far away and tries to get the Captain to understand that they want to help but the mistrust is intense. Continuing on their way, the group is attacked by renegade Comanche’s who don't care who is in the group. Trying to reach Montana safely the group is now unsure of how they will survive the attacks from all sides.
In the next town, Capt. Blocker asks that the post Lieutenant to see that Mrs. Quaid is taken care of but that's not what she wants. Feeling safer with Blocker, she makes it clear that the journey to Montana is something she needs to see to the end. The Lieutenant asks Blocker to escort a prisoner to the next town stop to be turned over for trail after
He agrees but is equally surprised at who the prisoner turns out to be.
Getting closer their destination, the two sides begin to see the pain and sadness each has experienced and in one moment Capt. Blocker sees his world shift in the most unexpected way.
That’s what happens when you walk a mile in real life.
Bale as Captain Blocker is an angry man who lived his military life surrounded by heinous acts. When those acts begin to reflect back onto his life, watching Bale slowly take in every bit of it is something to experience. There is not a lot of dialogue for his character but instead being continually riveted by the duality of how he handles each step towards Montana.
Studi as Chief Yellow Hawk is the calm in the middle of a storm. I adore when Studio shines on the screen in this way and having spent more than his fair share of time portraying Native Americans, this portrayal is stunningly beautiful. He also has little dialogue but when he does speak it is from the heart of a wounded people. There is something to be said for quiet strength but don't get me wrong; Chief Yellow Hawk still has fight left in him.
Pike as Rosalie is a pioneer woman who has ever reason to be broken, fearful and angry. Finding a sense of security with Capt. Blocker, she also begins to understand the people considered the enemy because of a honorable gesture. Pike grows with each mile they put behind them and doesn't hesitate to pick up a weapon and make her feelings known.
Beach as Black Hawk follows the wisdom and ways of his father Chief Yellow Hawk wanting to do what's best for his family. It is good to see Beach once again in a film that does him justice. Kilcher as Elk Woman takes in everything going on around her making
sure to protect her son. Horsechief as Little Bear is thoughtful, smart, and embraces everyone with a gentle smile and my heart just melted ever scene he was in.
Plemmons as Lt. Kidder turns in a performance that keeps me believing that he is such an under utilized actor. Here his character experiences events that jolt him but it doesn't change the part of him that is wants to do what's right. Camp as Wilks is at the end of his career and throwing unexpected events toward Captain Blocker. Camp's performance is stoic and heartbreaking at the same time.
Other cast also include Rory Cochrane as Master Sgt. Metz (Rory Cochrane), Timothee Chalamet as Pvt. DeJardin, John Hickey as Capt. Tolan, Robyn Malcolm as Minnie McCowan, Peter Mullan as Lt. McCowan, Stephen Lang as Col. Biggs Paul Anderson as Corp. Thomas, David Midthunder as Buffalo Man, Ryan Bingham as Sgt. Malloy and Ben Foster as Sgt. Wills.
HOSTILES will give audiences a experience with a story that I believe offers up the question of 'who really are the hostiles?' The cinematography is stunning with a wide open view of the elements giving the characters space to truly bring the story and the wide spectrum of human emotions.
Bale carries the load of a man fighting between the hostile man he's become towards Native Americans and now being confronted with that hostility. Studi's character of Chief Yellow Hawk sees the pain Capt. Blocker is in and understands it more than the military
man realizes. These are two men who have seen and done things towards one another and it is fitting that they must stand face to face, accept and forgive.
HOSTILES has already received attention from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association with a nomination for Breakthrough Film Artist Timothee Chalamet and has won the Capri Photoplay Award for Masanobu Takayanagi by Capri, Hollywood.
In the end - we are all hostiles.
THE POST will be in the Oscar Race!
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox is a story of dedication to the truth in print from THE POST.
It is the 1970's and Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is the woman who owns and runs The Washington Post with Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) as her editor. Knowing that there are those who don't support or trust her running of the paper, Kay takes in what is happening around her to find her voice.
When it comes to their attention that there is someone who has documents that expose the governments plans in Vietnam, The Post wants them. There is a problem, the man who photocopied the papers, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has gone into hiding and slivers of the information have also been shared with The New York Times.
What is in the papers? That the United States government was not being truthful to the American public about involvement in the Vietnam War. The papers also show the level of involvement went through Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) all the way up to the president.
The New York Times looks for advice about publishing the Pentagon Papers and the government wants an injunction against any further papers be published. In the meantime, reporter Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) from the Post finds Ellsberg and is given boxes of papers and Kay must decide whether to go forward before they are also stopped by the courts.
Bradlee gathers his writers and the clock is set to beat anything or anyone that wants to get in their way. Kay begins to feel the weight of what she is up against and realizes that she knows people that are involved and now must decide what the right thing is. Pressed by the papers all-male board, she realizes that the paper her father build is now
Kay digs in deep and knows that Bradlee will follow her lead.
The truth is worth fighting for!
Streep as Kay Graham once again turns in a performance of a woman who is seen as a lovely decoration to the Post with men telling her what is important and what isn't for the paper. Of course her insecurities are clear and Streep portrays the era with perfection. Gaining strength throughout the film, I cheer the hardest when she realizes that if the board of the paper wants to play tough - then she must learn to as well. Nothing wrong with telling the good ole' boys club that it is 'her' paper and that's how she is going to run it. Streep always gives everything to these roles and makes them not only believable but exceptional.
Hanks as Ben Bradlee is perfection and yes I'm being hugely Hanks-struck. I adore this actor and find him to be the absolute best of Hollywood and that includes the much misunderstood film TURNER AND HOOCH! Of course I wondered how he was going to portray this character since I do have Jason Robards' version of Bradlee from the 1976 film ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN stuck in my head. I had no reason to worry! THE POST is a perfect film to watch first and then take on the 1976 film because it is a history lesson about the government's shenanigans from The Washington Post's articles portrayed by two amazing actors.
Odenkirk as Bagdikian is on it to find the man with the papers. Knowing that this is the most important thing he will work toward, there is a moment where all of it might fall apart and Odenkirk keeps it straight. Rhys as Ellsberg has the worst case of paranoia I've ever seen and with good reason. He has what the government is looking for so he's not about to let go if the information isn't made public.
Greenwood as McNamara is a man trying to keep his head above water yet Greenwood makes it look smooth and controlled. That's what I love about Greenwood, whether he portrays a good, bad or indifferent character, he makes it look ridiculously smooth. The scene between Greenwood and Streep is hard to watch and strong for both of them in the scheme of the storyline.
Other cast include: Sarah Paulson as Tony Bradlee, Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe, David Cross as Howard Simons, Zach Woods as Anthony Essaye, Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons, Alison Brie as Lally Graham, Carrie Coon as Meg Greenfield, and Jesse Plemons as Roger Clark.
THE POST is already high on the nominations for awards and deservedly so. This is a story that needed to be told for so many reasons especially with what is going on in government now. I am an avid watcher of films based on history and THE POST
not only falls into that category but totally served me up a history lesson.
The caliber of actors and actresses in this film make it extraordinary bringing it to a level that can't be touched. That is what makes this film for me - a cast that seems to dive right in and take no prisoners mixed in with totally absorbing the time period of the 1970's.
Watching each character take on their own beliefs about why they do what they do comes into play and it can't be hidden in the film. Spielberg takes his own risk bringing the real news story to the attention of a fake-news world. He keeps the storyline crisp and doesn't sugar coast anything about what it takes to hold the government accountable when caught lying to its own people.
What this should do for the press is remind them that people do want to know the truth about their government and that not only is that government accountable but so is the press that reports it. I can't imagine that anyone who reports the news of the world not finding an amazing place in their hearts for the papers/editors and reporters who came before.
In the end – truth be told!
12 STRONG: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers Brings Two Sides to the Same War
Coming to theatres from director Nicolai Fuglsig and Warner Bros. is the a story of a group of soldiers who are dedicated to doing what is necessary by being 12 STRONG.
Cpt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) is ready to settle into a different military job that would allow him to be home with his wife and daughter. That is until September 11 as he sees on television what almost every American would see as the World Trade Center is under attacked. Knowing that he must return to his Special Forces team, he enlists the help of Chief Warrant Officer Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon) to get him back into the fold.
Quickly a team is sent to Afghanistan as Cpt. Nelson and his team including Sgt. Sam Diller (Michael Pena), Sgt. Ben Milo (Trevante Rhodes), Sgt. Pat Essex (Austin Hebert), Sgt. Bill Bennett (Kenny Sheard) and more arrive with gear in tow.
Now, Cpt. Nelson must convince Col. Mulholland (William Fichtner) that his team is ready to meet with Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It becomes quickly clear that this will be a struggle as Cpt. Nelson makes contact with General Dostum and there are immediate trust issues that are understandable on both sides.
Another surprise for the Cpt. and men is that this war is going to be fought in a way they could never imagine - on horseback! To get across the desolate land to meet up with
other fighters, there is another leader bringing his own brand of despicable destruction that affects the General deeply.
What is necessary is that two men who have no reason to trust one another learn that they need each other and by working together it may not solve the war's problems but does bring a surprising understanding of two unlikely leaders.
Hemsworth as Cpt. Nelson is a man dedicated to doing whatever he can, along with his men, to stop those responsible for the terror on American soil. His need to do so means he must say goodbye to his family once again with the belief that he will be returning home. Hemsworth gives a strong performance of a leader who cares about his men but also begins to understand that what he and the crew want are the same thing General Dostum wants. Trusting each other in a short amount of time proves to be frustrating as Cpt. Nelson's goal is to finish the mission and bring the men home.
Negahban as General Dostum is equally as dedicated as his American counterpart. Believing that there is only one way to fight the enemy who is taking over his country, he tries to believe that the American soldiers mean well but trust on both sides is slowing them down. The cultural misunderstandings are swift and bring about quick reactions from these leaders, as Negahban's character begins to share the feelings of the Afghani people, he explains that they want the terrorists just as gone as Cpt. Nelson and his men do.
Shannon as Spencer believes that the mission can only succeed if Nelson is with them. This is a strong character and what I mean by that is the person of Spencer fights through so much to be there for mission success. It is intense when the group realizes that getting help is difficult where they are embedded in the mountains. This role is a departure from the crazy mean character of Strickland in the stunning THE SHAPE OF WATER.
Pena as Sgt. Diller is another character who brings a little bit of laughter with his quick wit and straight delivery. At the same time Pena can put on a game face that is not to be messed with but also this isn't his first go around playing characters close to war with
his role in LIONS FOR LAMBS and WORLD TRADE CENTER. I believe that Pena is such an under utilized actor and with every role he confirms it.
Fichtner as Col. Mulholland has to be convinced to send in Cpt. Nelson and his men in for a mission that could prove to be a disaster. Once he sends them to meet with General Dostum, it is one step at a time filled with intensity that there are so many pieces to the
More of the 12 STRONG include Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Ben O'Toole, Austin Stowell, Kenneth Miller, Kenny Sheard, and Jack Kesy as well as Elsa Patasky, Max Bowers, Marie Wagenman and Rob Riggle.
12 STRONG is a totally different look at the war in Afghanistan after 9/11 because it gives both sides of the fight through a story that deserves to be told. The American soldiers made their feelings quite clear as to why they wanted to go for a dangerous mission in Afghanistan but we also learn that General Dostum and his men have a view as well.
To me that is a fantastic way to bring this story to the screen and see why each leader and their men mistrust. From the moment the two men arrive at the meeting point, the tension and mistrust is so thick on the screen. That is where the duality of emotion for the viewer kicks in because of course it is understandable that the American soldiers and Afghani soldiers each would be on high alert toward one another.
As the film continues and the Afghans explain what life has been like for them and their people - a change happens, not just between the characters on screen but the audience as well. There are such amazing scenes that either had my jaw dropped or found that I was holding my breath.
That's what 12 STRONG does, takes you inside an unexpected war to learn about people who are trying to survive terror themselves and come together in unexpected ways.
Doug Stanton is the author of the book HORSE SOLDIERS and he says, "I wanted this to be a book that you would read about guys surviving a harrowing situation. They were told very little about their mission except to attack terrorist camps but not told they would have to ride a horse to do it".
Also to celebrate these brave soldiers who fought on horseback, sculptor Douwe
Blumberg created the bronze statue De Oppresso Liber located in Liberty Park in New York guarding the attack site.
In the end - on September 11, 2001 the world watched in terror and on September 12, 2001 they volunteered to fight!
THE COMMUTER Rides on Rails!
Get your tickets ready to board the train as director Jaume Collet-Serra and Lionsgate take us all on a thrill ride following THE COMMUTER.
Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is a man that has fallen into a routine of life. Getting up, spending morning moments with wife Karen (Elizabeth McGovern) and family and jumping on the train to get to work is how he sees his life. Having spent the last ten years working for an insurance company, his life is about to change in ways he never saw coming.
Meeting up with friend Alex Murphy (Patrick Wilson), he has a chance to vent about things. Running into former colleague Hawthorne (Sam Neill), Michael and Alex have nothing nice to say about their working relationship or the good ole days.
After having a few beers, Michael boards the train going home feeling a
little defeated. Trying to forget life for a moment in a book, he is interrupted by Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who sits and starts a hypothetical conversation that intrigues Michael.
The problem is - it is turning out not to be so hypothetical.
Joanna wants Michael to find someone who is on the train and obtain a little something they are carrying. The problem is - even Joanna doesn't know who it is. He is shocked to
learn that Joanna knows about his problems, wife and son and is stunned when he is offered a large sum of money for his services.
When he discovers that murder is happening on the train, Joanna makes it clear learns his family could be next. Now he must walk back and forth on the moving commuter train to find out who doesn't belong and figure out who Joanna really is and what it is she desperately wants.
Time is clicking away faster than the wheels spinning on the train!
Neeson as Michael is once again proving that not only does he still got it but more over we all want to see it. Before going into the theatre, I heard so many conversations of the audience members (of all ages by the way) that they couldn't wait to see the film
because it was Liam Neeson. That is one heck of a following to have and I absolutely count myself as one of them. Neeson has the voice, swag and willingness to take hits as this character comes to terms with where he is in his life. That being said, when enough is enough Neeson does what he does best - flip the tables and the audience lost its mind cheering. Neeson has become an absolute treasure and I love it.
Farmiga as Joanna is a woman who got Michael's attention and kept it all through the film. This character basically has me totally rethinking anytime anyone says "let's just say hypothetically speaking" and Farmiga delivers that line so well. Wilson as Alex is a friend Michael turns to when everything begins to go crazy. It's hard to know who to trust when the wheels are turning and time isn't on your side. It's interesting to see Farmiga and Wilson in the same film together without there being a creepy doll or possessed house in the mix.
The cast of commuters is so well done and I'm not going to give a breakdown because this is a train ride I want everyone to be part of for themselves. It is an intense who-done-it or in this case who-is-it and watching Neeson's character try to remain calm and work it out kept my brain busy. Good luck figuring it out!
Other cast includes Jonathan Bans as Walt, Killian Scott as Dylan, Shazad Latif as Vince, Andy Nyman as Tony, Clara Lago as Eva, Roland Moller as Jackson, Florence Pugh as Gwen, Ella-Rae Smith as Sofia and Jonathan Banks as Walt.
THE COMMUTER is a fun thrill ride for the beginning of the new year. This is the type of film, especially for Neeson fans, to gather up a bunch of friends for a night at the movies. I love it when eating popcorn that there is more time with popcorn in your hand up to an open mouth than actually eaten. That's what a fun thriller like THE COMMUTER is.
Of course it is centered on the inside of a train which one might think would confine the story but you would be wrong. There is so much action and different compartments of the train that the action is constant. I'm throwing up tons of props brining intensity and adventure to a moving train and with a storyline of twists.
In the end - lives are on the line!
INSIDIOUS: The Last Key Brings Jumps for the New Year
Preparing to bring thrills and chills Friday in theatres from director Adam Robitel and Universal Pictures is good ole fashion fright from INSIDIOUS: The Last Key.
Elise (Lin Shaye) is plagued by dreams of the childhood house she once lived in with a violent father Gerard (Josh Stewart), endearing mother Melissa (Spencer Locke) and little brother Christian in 1952. When she receives a telephone call from a man named Ted (Kirk Acevedo) pleading for help, Elise is shocked when he gives her the address.
It is the house she left so many years ago in New Mexico. Knowing she must return to face what ever is spiritually infesting the house, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) aren’t about to let her go without them.
Almost immediately the house begins to reveal its secrets that Elise had blocked out for so many years. She also tried to meet up with her brother Christian (Bruce Davison) and Elise meets two nieces Imogen (Caitlin Gerard) and Melissa (Spencer Locke). Christian obviously holds hard feelings toward his sister.
The house wants what the house wants and now it becomes a family affair when Elise must go deeper into ‘The Further’ than she ever has before discovering horrifying secrets and to save the ones she loves.
But, will KeyFace allow that to happen!
Shaye as Elise has taken this character in so many different directions but I’m thrilled that she returned to tell her own story. I have always been a fan of Shaye as an actress and equally thrilled that the storyline let her continue to bring us the hauntingly spooky journey of this parapsychologist who isn’t afraid of much. Not saying her nerves don’t get rattled but she sucks it up and charges in!
Whannell as Specs also jumps right in and makes sure that Elise is covered and protected. Thought a little goofy, Specs is more sweet than nerdy. The hilarious nerd prize goes to Sampson as Tucker because I could not stop laughing at everything he does. Elise has her hands full reining him in when he gets sidetracked.
Gerard as Imogen is a little standoffish to meet an Aunt she didn’t know she had but that changes when stepping inside her father’s house once again. Locke as Melissa is thrilled to meet Elise and admits that she doesn’t know the history her father is so upset about.
Davison as brother Christian is holding a grudge and its one heck of a long grudge. It’s good to see him on screen again and although his role is small, it works. Javier Botet takes on the role of KeyFace and totally rocks it. The keys on the fingertips is a little unnerving but hey, it kept the audience on their toes.
Other cast include Amanda Jaros as Mara Jennings, Marcus Henderson as Det. Whitfield, Aleque Reid as Anna, Ava Kolker as young Elise, and Pierce Pope as young Christian.
For the first scary movie of the year, INSIDIOUS: The Last Key doesn’t disappoint. The audience jumped, yelled, scared each other and even took time to laugh to shake away the frights. That’s what I love about the INSIDIOUS films, just having a good time without tons of ridiculous slashing or gore.
Director Robitel keeps the feel that previous INSIDIOUS director James Wan set up as a successful roadmap to follow. Of course the title of the film is The Last Key and I’m hoping, no matter how much I think the films are cool, that there is a realization that it’s time to stop although I don’t think it will happen. Let’s go out on a high note shall we?
So after a very busy holiday season INSIDIOUS: The Last Key is a great film to go and just have some jumpy fun. Grab popcorn (hold with both hands), a few friends who just want to have a little theatre fun and enjoy the jolts, jumps and laughs the film will bring.
In the end – fear comes home!
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
Coming to theatres for Christmas from director Ridley Scott and TriStar Pictures is the true story of greed and kidnapping when you have ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.
John Getty II (Andrew Buchan) and wife Gail (Michelle Williams) are raising their children under the shadow of being related to the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). When their finances become difficult, Gail suggests that John write a letter to his father and mend their relationship.
To their surprise, Getty sends a telegram asking them to come to Rome and for John to work with him. The older Getty takes a liking to his grandson Paul and encourages him to be a part of the family business and spending time learning about their history.
As the years pass, John falls hard into drugs and Paul is brought back home to Gail. The relationship with the elder Getty is back to where it was before and they all have little contact with him. Paul has a wild side and he tends to come and go as he pleases and Gail doesn’t know how to deal with it.
One night, as Paul (Charlie Plummer) walks the streets of Rome, in an instant he is kidnapped. Gail receives a telephone call informing her of it and that she is to pay a hefty ransom. Reaching out to Getty, she does not get the response of a grandfather concerned about his grandson but instead, the response of a penny pinching old man.
Getty does one thing however, brings in Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to work with Gail in trying to locate who might have Paul. Working with the Italian police, Chase isn’t sure he is getting the whole story about the kidnapping or the family.
Paul deals with the kidnappers, especially Cinquanta (Romain Duris) who believe that the ransom will be paid. Phone call after phone call begins to anger them as Gail tries to explain that it is not she who has the money.
This is what happens when greed meets a man with an iron will because one way or another – everyone is going to pay!
Williams as Gail is a mother who knows the dynamics of the family but isn’t about to let her son die. It would be easy to see that she might be considered a tad cold but I also understand her more than I thought I would. As each phone calls comes in and each new threat is given, Williams thought process is quite clear.
Wahlberg as Chase is a man who clearly has worked with Getty on other issues but this one is different. Trying to understand why Getty just plain refuses to participate in what is clearly a serious matter stuns Chase. Wahlberg’s character begins to invest more of himself in what is happening and doesn’t care what his employer thinks. He puts on his usual badass and makes it known that what is right is right – no matter how much money you have.
Duris as Cinquanta is a kidnapper with a weird conscience. Between a rock and a hard place, it is clear he knows the difference between right and wrong. I’m not defending the guy in the slightest but Duris gives the character his moments.
There are two winners in this film and both of them have the last name of Plummers. First, Charlie Plummer as Paul is a young man who was going through life with a strange chip on his shoulder. There is a disconnect with his parents that just has him feeling as if nothing can touch his free spirit. He is also smarter than his kidnappers give him credit for. Plummer’s performance is everything I’d expect and still pleasantly surprised.
Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty is absolute and stunning perfection! From the moment he is on screen, Plummer portrays the richest man in the world with such a range of non-emotion emotion. What I mean to say is when he is angry you know he is although he’s not screaming, when he doesn’t care about something it is clear that it’s not on his to-do list and when it comes to money he clearly can talk about it with such believeability that it’s jaw dropping. Plummer has always been on my list of performers to watch but in ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD he deserves an Oscar!
Other cast include: Timothy Hutton as Oswald Hinge, Marco Leonardi as Mammoliti, Giuseppe Bonifati as Giovanni Iacovoni, Nicolas Vaporidis as Il Tamia, Andrea Bodini as Corvo, and Guglielmo Favilla as Piccolino.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is a journey through this family’s story in the middle of a kidnapping heard round the world. I knew about the young boy being taken but there is so much more than I didn’t know. That’s what makes this film even more interesting is that it kept my attention with one jaw drop after another.
It is an interesting look inside a family that proves money doesn’t buy happiness. The performances are brilliant but, as I said, it is the two Plummer’s that steal the entire film. Director Ridley Scott delivers with solid storytelling and gives us a thriller, drama and suspenseful look deeper inside a true story.
In the end – J. Paul Getty had a fortune and everyone else paid the price!
My Christmas Has Arrives with STAR WARS: The Last Jedi
What can be said about STAR WARS: The Last Jedi other than Christmas came early for me. From writer/director Rian Johnson based on characters created by George Lucas and Walt Disney Studios comes the next installment on this epic adventure.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a remote island and is trying to convince him to help the Rebellion once again. General Leia (Carrie Fisher) is being followed after their attack on General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) with one goal, to destroy what is left of the rebel fighters on orders from Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) must find a way to save the last of the fighters. Learning they are being tracked, Poe and Finn must find someone who can help them. Rey isn’t having much luck either with Luke as he has makes it clear that he is staying right where he is. As the two get to know one another, Rey feels a mysterious connection to Kylo Ren and Luke sees it as well.
Finn meets Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) who sees him as a hero for the cause. Wanting to help she discovers that there is much more to being a fighter than she realized. Up against Kylo Ren, General Hux and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), the minutes are ticking away to save what is left of the rebel fleet.
Once again a brother and sister face their fate, friends rely on one another and the force is there for them all!
If you were looking for spoilers than you came to the wrong writer. There is no way in hades that I am or even thought of giving anything away. Of course the above description of the film is generic but with the disaster of last years leaks I will not be responsible for any of it.
That being said, this is the STAR WARS fans have always loved. For me, well, I was giddy the moment the music cued and the scrolling of the yellow words upward into space began. From that moment on I was riveted and thrilled to once again to be in the galaxy far, far away.
Ridley as Rey takes on her next challenge which is to learn from Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Discovering that the process is the balance of mental and physical, she gets to add the grumblings of an island hermit. It has taken me some getting use to the character of Rey but with this film she is definitely cementing her place in the Star Wars franchise.
Driver as Kylo Ren is going through serious intensity in this chapter of the saga. Driver has the ability to show nothing and yet everything about what his character is going through. Still dealing with the death of his father, his confusion about Rey is apparent.
Boyega as Finn still feels the sense of responsibility for Rey and isn’t about to let anyone stop him. Now he has the chance to once again pair up with Poe as they put their plan for the rag tag left over fleet into action. Isaac as Poe is hard headed and strong willed. He wants to jump in first and not think through the consequences. The good news is that General Leia sort of has a soft spot for him.
Tran as Rose is the newest fighter for the rebellion and although not trained she fits right into the gang. Christie as Captain Phasma seems to have one goal – to get her hands on Finn. I just love Christie in this role because it feels like the bad side of Brianne of Tarth.
Gleeson as General Hux just wants to destroy everything in the name of Supreme Leader Snoke and don’t think for one second he and Kylo Ren are going to be bffs! Speaking of the Supreme Leader, Serkis once again lends his voice to a twisted character with facial problems.
Now, onto my two beloved characters of Luke Skywalker and General Leia. Mark Hamill has a scene in this film that reminds me of why I fell so hard for this franchise and the character of Luke Skywalker. Everyone will know it when they see it because it is stunningly beautiful and moving bringing back every emotion felt in 1977. Hamill’s return is such a joy for me and seeing him just as aged as myself is fun and nostalgic at the same time.
Fisher as Princess/General Leia is wonderful and still a wound in my heart. As Leia she has always been a strong and, pardon the pun, a force to be reckoned with. Making decisions to save what is left of the rebellion means sacrifice and courage which is everything Leia has stood for. Fisher has given us an iconic character that will last forever and anyone who wants to challenge me on this need just bring your light saber and we’ll duel it out in her honor.
Other cast include Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo, Benicio Del Toro as DJ, Justin Theroux as Slicer, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Jimmy Vee as R2-D2, Tim Rose as Admiral Ackbar, and Billie Lourd as Lt. Connix.
That is all anyone is getting from me for now. In a few weeks after everyone has had the chance to see the film then I’d be more than willing to discuss more about how I feel. There is so much to experience with this film and it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Of course there was concern by fans that the world re-created by J.J. Abrams might be a problem for director Rian Johnson. There isn’t a moment’s concern for me as the cinematograph captures the world we have all come to know. The recognizable music never lets the audience forget where they are – as if it could.
The next installment is too far away for fans yet there are other stories that will be told about the world created by George Lucas. Keeping with the theme of Star Wars, the characters are jumping to light speed with their destinies and we are all just willingly along for the ride.
In case you are at all wondering, I will be seeing STAR WARS: The Last Jedi more than a few times! Get the popcorn ready because there will always be a seat with my name on it in any theatre I walk into. Gather up a crowd and join in the experience that has captured generations.
In the end – the force is with them all!