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The Judge (2014)
Best movie I've seen in a while. You be the judge!
Powerful and heartfelt. Robert Downey Jr. plays Hank Palmer, a high dollar, very successful defense attorney in Chicago. Hank returns to his childhood home for his mother's funeral. Hank being estranged from his family for twenty years is not accepted well by his father(Robert Duvall), who just happens to be the county judge for almost forty years. Before Hank leaves to go back to Chicago, his father is suspected and arrested for murder.
Hank's brothers are a bit standoffish, for different personal reasons. But one person from his high school days, Samantha(Vera Farmiga), would really like to rekindle a relationship from the past. Hank is more worried about his father's court defender. He sets out to prove his father's innocence and along the way finds out the real truth. Against his dad's wishes, Hank co-defends him in court.
During this time Hank would really like to reconnect with his estranged family. Also on his mind is his own divorce proceedings waiting back home. Dysfunction probably actually is the winner in this drama.
I have never been so impressed with Downey, Jr. He plays this role with arrogance and ego. But then there is compassion sneaking through his outward demeanor. All I can say about Farmiga is that she is absolutely hot. I enjoyed the sequence of breaking into her own bar. Leighton Meester plays Farmiga's daughter and she is a teasing stunner. I really enjoyed the interaction of the characters. I found so much realness in the story.
There is a nice soundtrack that sometimes can really help a movie. This story didn't need much help, but it was nice to hear Fleetwood Mac, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, Coldplay and Dwight Yoakam.
The supporting cast features: Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ken Howard, Jeremy Strong and Balthazar Getty.
Taken 2 (2012)
Former secret agent is kidnapped.
Retired CIA special ops agent Bryan Mills(Liam Neesom) is vacationing in Istanbul with his ex-wife Lenore(Famke Janssen)and daughter Kim(Maggie Grace). Mills and his family are abducted by Murad Krasniqi(Rade Serbedzja)seeking revenge for the deaths of Kim's former kidnappers. Murad's Albanese gang are avenging the death of their leader's son. This time it will be Kim who helps to free her parents unleashing Bryan to turn the tables on the ruthless Murad and his minions.
Plenty of action with precision violence. Several degrees of brutality. Some sequences are highly intense and harsh. And what is not to like?! Other players: Leland Orser, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Kevork Malikyan, Jon Gries and Alain Figlarz.
One Way Ticket to Hell (1955)
One drag will drag you down.
This is a teenage exploitative flick about a decent girl going bad. Cassandra Leigh(Barbara Marks)is a good girl easily tempted by her peers and takes a short walk on the wilder side. She is encouraged to take just one drag off a marijuana cigarette and that leads to the slippery slope of popping pills. Cassandra then gets her introduction to heroin and the old bugaboo has bitten...this good girl is now a drug addict having hellish nightmares. Her life becomes a battle looking for what she craves, getting "high".
This low-budget melodrama has a serious subject: drug abuse. But then it is kind of funny when it comes to dialogue and filming techniques. But after all, this is the mid fifties.
Bamlet Lawrence Price Jr. writes, directs and stars as 'Chico' Martinez. Also in the cast: William Kendall, Robert A. Sherry, Robert Norman, Elaine Linderbaum and Bamlet Lawrence Price Sr.
The Babadook (2014)
A pop-up book brings terror.
This Australian-Canadian psychological thriller is written and directed by Jennifer Kent. Amelia(Essie Davis)is a trouble widow raising her six year old son Samuel(Noah Wiseman), who displays erratic behavior; rarely sleeping through the night. Sam is preoccupied with an imaginary monster and builds weapons to protect his mother.
Sam asks his mom to read him a story from a pop-up book mysteriously found on his shelf. The story, Mister Babadook, is about a supernatural entity that torments the people that recognize his existence. Sam is taken out of school for fighting and general bad attitude. He tries to convince Amelia that the Babadook is stalking them. She ties to get rid of the book as it keeps taunting and harassing her. Amelia keeps seeing visions of her dead husband. Sam is sure the monster is lurking about the house. The more Amelia tries to deny Babadook's existence, the stronger the monster gets.
Creepy and scary. And down right fun to watch. You may be inclined to take a sedative after viewing. This is nervous excitement.
Also featured are: Daniel Henshall, Cathy Adamek, Hayley McElhinney, Ben Winspear and Barbara West.
The Haunting of Whaley House (2012)
Investigating a haunted house.
A skeptical tour guide Penny(Stephanie Greco)is a bit unsettled when she thinks she sees dark figures and hears strange noises in the infamous Whaley House. Penny abuses her position to give several of her friends a private tour. Her friends will conduct some amateur ghost hunting. Things will go bump in the night; strange smells and scary sounds will cause some very stupid and bad decisions. This ghost hunt turns into more horror than imagined. These young people just were not ready to deal with the supernatural. Bodies will start piling up.
Not so much a terrible movie, it started out a bit slow before getting spooky. The story was better than average, the dialogue wasn't all that much and the acting was hit and miss. But still the movie is enjoyable.
In the cast are: Alex Arleo, Arielle Brachfeld, Carolina Groppa, Jason Owsley, Lynn Lowry, Howard McNair and Graham Denman.
Note: Miss Brachfeld has been said that during filming she heard low whispers, felt her hair being pulled and her thighs being touched.
Come and Get It (1936)
Love affairs in the Wisconsin woods.
Howard Hawks and William Wyler direct this MGM classic. Barney Glasgow(Edward Arnold)is an energetic lumberjack stripping the Wisconsin woods in the late 1880's. He will marry his boss's daughter Emma(Mary Nash)even though he loves a saloon girl named Lotta(Frances Farmer). The heartbroken Lotta will marry Barney's best friend Swan(Walter Brennan). In later years, Barney visits Swan finding out that Lotta has died. Not surprisingly, Barney is smitten with Swan and Lotta's daughter also named Lotta, a dead ringer for her mother. As time rolls on rumors spread about the attention Barney is bestowing on the young Lotta. Things get real dicey when Barney's son Richard(Joel Mcrea)also has eyes for the beauty. Who will the alluring Lotta give her real affections to, Barney or Richard? How many hearts will be broken?
Farmer is amazing playing both mother and daughter Lotta. Also in the cast: Mandy Christians, Edwin Maxwell, Charles Halton, Frank Shields and Andrea Leeds.
The Investigator (1997)
Searching out lesbians in the military.
This is a fact-based story focused on Caroline Meagher((Helen Baxendale), a sergeant in the Royal British Military Police. With 12 years experience, she is stationed in Northern Ireland and assigned to rooting out and questioning suspected lesbians in armed forces. Along the way, she will begin her own slow discovery of her sexual nature. She began a sexual affair with a Scottish woman and went to great lengths to avoid detection. When it is discovered, she must face the pressures of her own grilling by investigators. Before her homosexuality was actually proved, she quit the army which denied any keeping of intelligence files on lesbians.
The cast also includes: Laura Fraser, Ian Burfeld, Anna Bolt, Katrina Levon, Sean Gilder and Zara Turner.
Seven Ways from Sundown (1960)
Steak and beans; let's be friends.
Clair Huffaker's novel and screenplay is put in the hands of director Harry Keller. Riding on Audie Murphy's popularity, how can you lose? Our hero was born into a large family and the sons were given numerical names; thus Seven Ways To Sundown Jones(Murphy). Adventure and drama as Jones, a young Texas Ranger, is teamed with veteran Ranger Sergeant Henessey (John McIntire)to capture and bring back a wanted man. Jim Flood(Barry Sullivan)is a charming criminal and very skillful, but his trail is picked up by the two Rangers. Flood manages to ambush the two and Henessey is killed. The young Jones carries on with the mission and finally apprehends Flood.
One the way back, Jones seems to realize that Flood isn't that bad of a guy after all. Sharing steak and beans, the two ride on and encounter bounty hunters and Indians. Will this become a strong friendship? Will the Texas Ranger bring in his man dead or alive? It appears at times there was a short budget to work with. But acting is good and the dialogue keeps the movie interesting. Also in the cast: Venetia Stevenson, Kenneth Tobey, Suzanne Lloyd, Jack Krushen, Ward Ramsey and Mary Field. There are small roles for Don Haggerty and Teddy Rooney.
Island of Doomed Men (1940)
No escaping from Dead Man's Island.
Peter Lorre plays sadistic Stephen Danel lording over Dead Man's Island. Danel uses paroled convicts as slaves digging in his diamond mine. Undercover Government agent Mark Sheldon(Robert Wilcox)is framed for murder, so Danel can arrange for him to be transferred under his custody to his remote island. It doesn't take long for Sheldon to set his eyes on Danel's beautiful wife Lorraine(Rochell Hudson). Plans are made to escape with one of Danel's workers. The glamorous Lorraine is fed up with her prison of a marriage and wants to escape too. The attempt is foiled by Danel's spy, Brand(Don Beddoe). All will not be lost as the undercover agent convinces several of the diamond diggers they are not totally doomed, because Danel can easily be out numbered. Will anyone, even just one, get off Dead Man's Island alive? Lorre is outstanding in this role. The movie is well paced under the direction of Charles Barton. Other players include: George E. Stone, Charles Middleton, Earl Gunn, Stanley Brown and Kenneth MacDonald.
Beat the Devil (1953)
A spy-spoof starring Bogey!
The fabled John Huston directs this Truman Capote screenplay. Billy Dannreuther(Humphrey) is part of a group of international crooks--Peterson(Robert Morely, Julius O'Hara(Peter Lorre) and Ravello(Marco Tulli) that are stranded in Italy trying to catch a steamer to Africa. Billy's wife Maria(Gina Lollobrigida),starving for romance, is a bit uneasy when her husband meets Gwendolen Chelm(Jennifer Jones), the feminine half of a British couple waiting for the same steamer being repaired. Counting Mr.Chelm(Edward Underdown), there are now seven people ready to set sail to Africa, all conjuring a scheme to beat each other to lay claim on land that is rich in uranium.
BEAT THE DEVIL didn't start out well with critics and viewers, but looking back some think this black comedy to be the epitome of a 1950's spy-spoof. For some strange reason, my favorite sequence is the evacuation of the sinking boat. Why didn't Miss Lollobrigida get more screen time? Bogart was effortless.
Other players: Bernard Lee, Saro Urzi, Ivor Bernard and Mario Perrone.