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Rock the Kasbah (2015)
It was okay... disappointing overall.
We went to Rock the Kasbah for an early screening. Neither of us had heard much of anything about it, but I enjoy Bill Murray's work and it seemed to have a strong cast.
But the first half of the film seemed different than the second half. Actors seemed wasted in their roles. I just wasn't quite sure what to make of the movie.
The film is about an over-the-hill music producer, Richie Lanz, scrambling to make a last go of the industry. He brings his last big talent (Zooey D) overseas as an entertainer for the troops, where he will be sure to collect some big money. However, she promptly decides she doesn't want to be there, leaves, and Bill Murray is left to fend for himself sans papers or money. That is how the movie opens. After that we get Scott Caan, Bruce Willis and Kate Hudson appearing in varying roles as Bill Murray finds his way in Afghanistan.
Kate Hudson may or may not be intentionally faking an accent, but tries hard to pull off sex appeal as a hooker for hire. I don't see her appeal. Bruce Willis is the necessary, and typical gun for hire. Zooey comes and goes, and sadly never comes back. Scott Caan is the necessary character who comes and goes to provide necessary funds to Lanz to survive. I didn't find him funny and was a plot device only to basically say the first half of the film is rendered irrelevant.
It's just weak compared to other Bill Murray fare and each character seems to be a cameo, until the end becomes just another old-music-producer-finds-a-talent. It doesn't seem to push many boundaries, which is ironic since the film is about pushing boundaries in Afghanistan.
It was okay, but nothing more and nothing less.
What a Fury
Think of great war movies and you think of movies that focus on a mission. Das Boot, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and so on.
Fury tells the story of from the perspective of a tank crew. They've been through this before, through Africa, and France and now Germany. They are worn down, and firmly entrenched in the warfare. Then along comes Norman, a new recruit weeks out of camp.
The film starts with a bang, meanders through some character development and settles into one of these battles. The thing with Fury is that, it seems to lose some of that momentum when the characters come across some German women. I understand the need to slow the pace, but the claustrophobia lost some of its impact.
Shia LaBeouf stands out. His best performance to date. Wonderfully acted, and solid entertainment.
American Hustle (2013)
It was OK
American Hustle feels like a good movie that is a retread. The performances are outstanding, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence are given the chance to shine and they don't miss. However, the story (who is hustling who?) is thinly veiled. It's well done, but nothing that hasn't been done before ("The Sting").
The story is essentially Bale and Amy Adams are con artists. Eventually they get picked up by the FBI (Bradley Cooper). They set up an operation designed to implicate the mayor (Jeremy Renner) but eventually seem to be knee-deep in trouble as the mob and politicians get involved. Then the question becomes who is the hustler, and who is being hustled.
Indy 4 is likely the biggest disappointment for me in the last 10 years. I didn't like Die Hard 4 (it took an R rated action series and tuned in a PG generation), T3 was passable but hammed up the series, Alien 4 saw sex between Ripley and the alien, Spider-Man 3 turned into camp, and Indy 4 is likely the worst of them all. It strays so far from its roots that it seems like a parody of an Indy film moreso than a sequel to its classic ancestry.
I even have to line by line write what's wrong with this film because it's laughably bad:
-Mutt showing up ala Brando made me laugh. Corny to the nth degree. -Mutt swinging on vines at 160km/h with monkeys? -So many allusions to other films (two of The Fugitive, Superman, Wild Bunch, Spider-Man, etc). -Indy survives a nuclear bomb in a fridge. -Ridiculous hedgehogs for the first 10 minutes. -Let's drive this jeep off the cliff and aim for that tree. Then, as if that wasn't unbelievable enough, go down 3 waterfalls in a jeep, and all 4 passengers stay in the jeep until the end. -Marion has absolutely ZERO edge compared to Raiders. -Reliance on CGI. This has Lucas written all over it but the greatness of the first 3 were physical stunts. -Worst Cate Blanchett performance of her career. It's pretty bad when her accent comes and goes and they let it slip. -Aliens? Indiana Jones is about artifacts and history, not alien life forms using a UFO to escape Earth to another dimension.
The first 10 minutes of this movie destroyed any excitement I had. It was amongst the worst 10 opening minutes of a film I have EVER seen, and I am a Film/Media BA.
I can't get over how bad it was. The first 10 minutes in every Indy film (or Bond for that matter) open with a stunt or action that doesn't necessarily relate to the rest of the story. What do we get here? Hedgehogs, a nuclear bomb, Shia playing dressup, and I can't go on.
What a disappointment. From a lifelong Indy fan.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
The first 3 Die Hards were about out-witting the opponent, mixed in with some special fx, one-liners, and an actual feeling that there was an imminent threat.
Live Free or Die Hard feels like a retread. First the lens is tinted which gives the film a cheap look. Then we have an action sequence straight out of True Lies, and a bridge collapsing that looked far better in War of the Worlds.
LFODH just feels like a typical sub-par popcorn flick (think Fantastic Four, the later X-Men movies), and definitely not even close to as good as the first 3, which I loved.
And Justin Long was great. If it wasn't for him providing the odd laugh, I might have cried to how far this franchise has fallen.
Æon Flux (2005)
One of the worst movies I have ever seen.
Right up (or down) there with Toys and Jurassic Park 2 and The Phantom Menace.
The premise sounded cool, some of the commercials looked semi-promising, but alas, the entire movie had about 30 seconds of neat shot-ness, and that was shown on the small screen's 30 second slot.
If you want amateur writing, second-rate effects, ridiculous costumes, and an all-around snoozefest by all means watch it. The plot is recycled sci-fi fodder. Too bad too, because coming in I thought it would be bad but held out hope. It may be the worst movie I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot.
Bottom line - Don't watch it.
Unless of course you -liked- any of the above 3 movies.
Big Trouble (2002)
Big Cast, Big Trouble
The cast in this film is a bunch of actors who support films well but do not necessarily carry them. Consider Rene Russo, Omar Epps, Dennis Farina, and yes, even Jason Lee and Tim Allen.
The film has a few laugh-out loud moments, probably thanks to the writing by Dave Berry. But the story is weak at best, the chemistry between Russo and Allen is laughable, Stanley Tucci plays his most painful role I have ever seen him in, and the movie sounds like a poor man's Get Shorty. And I'm sorry, Heavy D is playing Forest Whitaker terribly.
Tim Allen cannot carry a film. He's a guy's guy in the sense that he likes fast cars and hot women. But that's what sums him up. His best work is when he is used as the straight man in the dialogue, not when he tries to go over the top.
This film is not very good. 3/10 stars for some of its writing.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Compelled to defend this very good film
My first impression of Four Weddings was that I did NOT want to watch the film. I had bought it and it stayed on my shelf for months. A few minutes in I laughed out loud, and ended up enjoying the film thoroughly..
Now in its defense...
Four Weddings and a Funeral is not only a film about true love. Its main characters represent a "romantic comedy" about two characters who feel immense sexual attraction, interpreted as love.
What Hugh Grant's character is looking for does not depend on how uninteresting Carrie is, or interesting his friends are. Carrie is different than anyone else, exotic. Granted Andie overplayed the final scene, but for the rest of the film she nailed it dead-on. She is a beautiful American woman. She represents America as exotically beautiful but not necessarily intelligent. Grant's love is skin-deep but that's the whole thing with "love at first sight."
You never know who that person is but that first moment just might click.
Who cares if all it takes for the characters is attraction? The movie is all about different kinds of love and acceptance, be it homosexuality, or opposites attracting (the Texan) or marrying rich (Prince Charles) or marrying cousins or marrying out of a sexual affair (wedding #2).
There is something for everyone in this movie, be it laughs, acceptance, a classy funeral and touching funeral scene, romance, or simply good-looking people being attracted to each other.
The ensemble cast is first-rate and this movie is definitely a must-see.
The Man Who Cried (2000)
Lots of style, but no substance
First of all, I have to admit I am not a big fan of Sally Potter's. I have seen numerous films of hers, but again I came away with a common thought. She is a master of colour, and sets, and she chooses her cinematographers very well. But for all that style, all too often the characters look at each other blankly. All 4 main actors can act, but they need dialogue. The story needs focus, and a heartbeat.
The story had promise. But you leave wondering where was the emotion, where was the passion in the script...
I give the film a 4/10 based on the incredible 'look' to the film.
Practical Magic (1998)
This was an awful piece of work- save for Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman was the saving force of a terrible movie. Some sequences are far too long, and others way too unbelievable. Sandra Bullock didn't do herself many favors by accepting the far less intriguing role.
The one scene which forever haunts this film for me is the dancing around the table for upwards of five minutes while everyone gets drunk. This, to me, is sloppy film-making when nothing better could have been put in, filler, to make the movie longer.
Nicole Kidman surprised me with her performance, but one character a film does not make.