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The Heat, a remake of a buddy film from the '80s, was a huge hit -- so
much so, that there is a sequel.
Sandra Bullock stars with Melissa McCarthy in this film, about an FBI agent (Bullock) and a Boston policewoman (McCarthy) who are forced to work together on a case.
McCarthy's character is tough, mean, and foul-mouthed, and Bullock's is brainy, uptight, and formal. Nothing new there, although both are able to play these types of roles well.
There are some funny scenes for sure, in between the expletives.
Both women are so talented. I wish they had better material.
Before Clive Owen became a star in the movies, he did a ton of TV -
several series and some TV movies. This one, Split Second, is from
Owen plays Michael Anderson, a corporate attorney under pressure at home and in the office. His wife Angie (Helene McCrory) is a talented interior designer who stays home with their young children. One night, Michael leaves work, and on his way home, a cyclist tries to play a game of chicken with him. Traffic, tension, and some road rage intervene and the cyclist, swerving back and forth, is hit by Michael's car and dies. Freaked out, Michael flees the scene.
His situation goes from bad to worse. Tensions mount at home, and at the office, a frustrated Michael asks his boss if he could move to another position. His boss suggests he could offer him an overseas placement. When Michael mentions it at home, Angie erupts.
This is a decent film without much style to it. It's dark, depressing, and slow, but it's driven by Clive Owen's intense performance as a man whose guilt tortures him.
I'm a big fan of Owen's, so I did like this.
Unfortunately, he doesn't have a whole lot to do in this TV movie.
In 1980s London, David Katz (Jay Acovone), a timeshare salesman living in England, is asked by a taxi driver if he is interested in doing some business. Turns out that business is counterfeit pound notes, so Katz calls in the police. The detective, George (Owen) works with Katz to set up a sting to catch the head man, known as "The Magician." Katz turns out to be uncooperative, refusing to let the police do their jobs. The IRA wants The Magician too, for other reasons. The wild card turns out to be the man who brought the case to the police in the first place, Katz, and he doesn't seem to care if he risks the sting or his marriage to get his way.
I found this film a little slow and confusing at the beginning. My own fault, I guess, but there were two old men and I got them mixed up. Jay Acovone did a wonderful job as a man walking a fine line, loving the edgy life and trying to convince his unhappy wife that he's on the straight and narrow. He has a larger and showier part than Owen, which is strange because this movie was made after his hit TV show, Chancer, that brought him to public attention and that he left of his own accord.
This TV movie also features Jeremy Kemp.
I didn't find "The Magician" particularly special.
I have no idea why this movie was made or who came up with this
I've decided it was some sort of an inside joke cooked up by Robert Stigwood, who had no taste. None.
Lily Tomlin, her spouse Jane Wagner, and John Travolta are all huge talents. Tomlin has proved herself over the years to be a fabulous comedienne and a fine dramatic actress. Wagner is a brilliant writer. John Travolta has acting ability, charm, and charisma to spare. But Tomlin is woefully miscast as a rich Malibu housewife, John Travolta's name in the film is Strip, and the script is terrible.
I think a couple of things. First of all, I think Travolta, Tomlin, Wagner, and Stigwood were all friends. If you look at Stigwood's resume, he was known way back when for taking untalented people and making them stars. The stardom never lasted, but the man could obviously sell ice to Eskimos. He thought he could make a hit movie with a hot star like John Travolta, no matter that the script was bad and his costar was miscast. When in doubt, overhype. Tomlin probably wanted to try something different, and Wagner accommodated her. However, neither were in their milieu. The result: a disaster that hurt John Travolta's career. Fortunately, he recovered.
For "so bad it's good movies," this one beats Monsignor, Valley of the Dolls, The Big Cube, The Oscar, and Bittersweet Love.
I will say up front I know nothing about Captain America, nothing about
Marvel Comics, and I'm not a connoisseur of special effects.
That all being said, Captain America was highly entertaining.
Chris Evans is the scrawny Steve Rogers, who, after trying without fail to get into World War II, is chosen by a scientist, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) for an experiment called Project Rebirth. Steve is transformed into the superhuman to create the all-powerful man, who becomes Captain America. Dr. Erskine is assassinated by a HYDRA agent - HYDRA being the Nazi secret research.
Initially Rogers is misused, sent out to sell war bonds. However, he abandons this when his good friend Bucky and his unit are caught behind enemy lines. Then he finally gets into the war as he has always wanted.
Great cast, including Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, and Samuel L. Jackson.
I really liked the effects, although I gather some people thought they weren't that good. What I liked the most was the old-fashioned ambiance, which was very well done.
"The Savages" is the story of Jon Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a
professor in Buffalo, and his sister Wendy Savage, an aspiring New York
City playwright. Jon is facing the loss of his girlfriend -- her visa
is up and she's returning to Poland -- and he's also working on a book
about Berthold Brecht. Wendy is facing middle age, sleeping with a
married man and not having a lot of success getting grants for her
Then both of them are faced with a problem they must face together: the dementia of their elderly father (Philip Bosco) in a place called Sun City in Arizona, where he was living with his girlfriend. She has just died, and her family feels that he is now his children's responsibility.
Brother and sister travel to Arizona, bring him back to Buffalo, and place him in a nursing home. Wendy wants him to be in a better place; Jon doesn't think he will know the difference. Jon takes on this responsibility begrudgingly: his father wasn't a great father, in fact, he was abusive; and their mother left the family. Wendy wants to assuage her guilt according to Jon. She takes out her anger by writing plays about her childhood.
Realistic, heartwarming, difficult at times, "The Savages" is an excellent movie about a brother and sister bonding in a family crisis, and about coming to terms with an aging parent and their own lives now that their youth is over.
This isn't a big movie. It's beautifully directed by Tamara Jenkins. For anyone who has gone through caring for an aging parent, this film will hit home.
If you watched your friends die of AIDS in the '80s, you will have an
emotional connection to Dallas Buyers Club, which is the true story of
the rebellious Ron Woodroof.
Matthew McConaughey plays Woodroof, an electrician, homophobe, womanizer, and rodeo rider, who is diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and given a month to live. At the time, the only drug available was AZT, which did not help Ron. He then starts seeking other treatment and ultimately forms The Dallas Buyers Club, smuggling non-FDA approved drugs from everywhere he could and distributing them to other AIDS sufferers all over the world. Woodroof himself lived until 1992.
Part of Woodroof's realization that we're all human and helping AIDS patients came from his strong friendship with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender also diagnosed with AIDS. He is also befriended by a compassionate doctor (Jennifer Garner) who doesn't believe that AZT is the answer for AIDS and is interested in other drug protocols.
I actually have never believed, and don't believe now, that pharmaceutical companies are interested in a cure for AIDS -- maybe an AIDS vaccine -- but there is too much money in stopping the progression. Also, let's face it, AIDS has become big business, with the growth of organizations to serve the HIV/AIDS communities as well as foundations dedicated to research.
Consequently, nothing about this film and the behavior of the FDA surprised me, and I have to agree with what was said by a judge in the film - terminally ill people should be able to try anything they want if they believe it might help them.
My big problem with the movie is that I believe Woodroff was bisexual, and I don't understand why he isn't in the film. It seems to me to be a cowardly move.
The performances are exceptional -- but then, both McConaughey and Leto have been given exceptional roles that are also sympathetic. Sometimes it's hard to separate all of that from performance. When A Time to Kill was released, I transcribed an interview with Matthew McConaughey. Back then, he had a dog named Miss Hud and asked his agent if he could meet Paul Newman. Suddenly he started making fluff and taking his shirt off. But the talent exhibited in this movie was always there, as was the commitment -- along the way he got lost in the money, I guess. This had to be a role close to his heart -- he is from Texas and has probably met men like Woodroof. He does a beautiful job.
As Rayon, Jared Leto is magnificent, totally believable, giving a poignant, warm performance. He's long been a versatile human being, and this is a wonderful achievement.
If you didn't live through this period, this film will perhaps not have the effect on you that it will have on others. The death sentence, the distancing of friends, the refusal of some hospital workers to touch you (as happened to a friend of mine) -- men too young to die, at a time when nothing could be done for them. If people became angry with the FDA, it was for good reason, though they did rush things along. Part of it was the political pressure exerted by gays and good for them.
Today, thanks to people like Ron Woodroof, it's possible to live with this disease. For the thousands and thousands who died, they just contracted the disease a little too early.
Despite some flaws, this is a thought-provoking film about a miserable time.
"The Incredible Theft" is one of the staples of detective lore, the
MacGuffin plot. These were especially popular during the war where the
MacGuffin was a list of agents, a code decryption, or plans for some
war weapon. Here it's plans for a war weapon.
Poirot is invited to spend the weekend at the home of the Mayfields. Mr. Mayfield is an industrialist who has developed a new plane. He wants the government to start coughing up some money as he's paid all expenses thus far. The government knows that he once sold weapons to the Japanese, so they're not interested.
Mayfield wants to impress the government so he invites a known Nazi sympathizer and probably a spy to his home to see if he can catch her stealing the plans. His wife is a wreck so she asks Poirot to keep an eye on things over the weekend.
Of course, if it could go wrong, it does, and Poirot finds himself involved with Japp as they try to sort things out.
There is a lot of humor in this episode, but it's not a murder mystery. It's pleasant enough. This is one where the touches of comedy make it worthwhile. Though when you think about it, given the superb acting and production values, these episodes are always worthwhile.
"Probable Cause" is a 1994 TV-movie starring Michael Ironside and Kate
Vernon, and featuring Craig T. Nelson.
Someone is killing police officers, but Gary Yanuck (Ironside) has his own problems. He is accused of sexually harassing another officer (Brooke Adams, in a minuscule role) and has refused to apologize, claiming he did not lay a hand on her. He's under a cloud. He's assigned a new partner, Lynn Reilly (Vernon) who is an odd duck. She occasionally passes out and other times seems out of it. Worried, Yanuck approaches her psychiatrist and, after handing him a phony warrant, learns that Lynn was married before but doesn't remember her marriage. Later we learn that something terrible happened to her that she can't remember. In the meantime, she appears to sleepwalk.
When she discovers an important pattern to the murders, Yanuck realizes that she's in danger and may be, in fact, the next victim.
This is a slow film and because Kate Vernon plays a psychologically repressed woman and has to walk around pretty zombie-like most of the time, her performance doesn't add much spark to the movie. Michael Ironside as a cop was very good, but I didn't find him particularly likable. So I wasn't very invested in either character.
The end was not surprising on one hand and on the other, had a slight twist. Not sure it was worth it.
Kate Vernon was around a lot in the '80s, and she's still very active, but I never watched Battlestar Galactica or other shows in which she appeared. She is a better actress than you would believe in this film.
...and if it's not all right, it's not the end.
Seven elderly Brits have two things in common: They're all old, and they all decide for various reasons to retire to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India. For the newly widowed Evelyn, it's a chance for an adventure she never had, rather than sell her place and move in with her son; for Graham (Tom Wilkinson), it's a chance to find someone from his youth; for Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton), they're out of options after giving their daughter all their money for a start-up Internet site; for Muriel (Maggie Smith), it's a free hip replacement; for Madge (Celia Imrie), it's the possibility of a new group of men; and for Norman (Ronald Pickup) it's a chance for some female-type action.
When they get to Jaipur, India, the hotel isn't exactly as described -- it's run down, and its manager/part owner Sonny (Dev Patel) is an young, upbeat man full of hope and promises, just not much in the way of business sense.
I have no idea what the problem was regarding reviews -- this is such an excellent, funny, warm, poignant film about taking chances, living your dream, and facing old age.
Everyone in the cast was wonderful, but here were three standouts, mainly because of their stories: Maggie Smith, especially when she weakly asks Sonny's mother if she knows anything about the computer and getting things "on the line," Judi Dench as a woman who is determined to take advantage of her new freedom, and Tom Wilkinson, looking for someone from his past. Dev Patel as Sonny is a riot, absolutely delightful. We get to know every person and what they bring with them to the experience. For Jean, it's a negative one; for her husband, it's new possibilities. Everyone changes or comes to a realization.
Do not hesitate to see this film and remember the words of Sonny: Everything comes out all right in the end, and if it's not all right...it's not the end.
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