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A Most Violent Year (2014)
Business; it is all business!
J.C. Chandler writes and directs this crime drama about one of New York City's historically dangerous and crime-filled years. It is blue ass cold in the winter of 1981. Immigrant Abel Morales(Oscar Isaac)and his wife Anna(Jessica Chastain)are trying to operate a successful business on the docks of NYC. The ambitious Morales finds himself in a major bind for cash flow to purchase some property to advance his business. He has always striven to operate on the up-and-up in order to leave a respectable legacy. When rumors cause the bank to renege on a promise of a business loan, Abel is forced to enter into some loans from people that he has always tried to stay away from. "Robbing Peter-to-pay Paul" is nothing to brag about and Mrs. Morales becomes frightened for her family when unsavory muscle begins to show.
As expected, some rough language and graphic, disturbing violence will earn this movie an R rating. The acting is fine, but you seem to have to wait for something to really happen. A bunch of shots of the New York City skyline does not a movie make. The intentions are good, but more is expected and not delivered. I like the using of "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye. Other music provided by Ray Bryant, Alex Ebert and Cia Italia.
Also in the cast: Elyes Gabel, Jerry Adler, Christopher Abbott, David Oyelowo, Matthew Maher and Albert Brooks.
The Boy Next Door (2015)
One lapse of good judgment.
A movie not as predictable as you may think. It is even better that first thought. Kind of a slow burner; but look out for the bad behavior. Claire Peterson(Jennifer Lopez)is a very attract high school teacher learning to live without her cheating husband Garrett(John Corbett). A studly young man named Noah(Ryan Guzman)temporarily moves in next door and befriends Claire's son Kevin(Ian Nelson). Mrs. Peterson attempts being cordial and offers friendship. Noah is quick to be helpful as he is charming. He doesn't read false signals from Claire; he instigates overt flirtation that the teacher finds flattering...but, whoa, it becomes obvious that Noah is a bit psycho, obsessed and can't take no for an answer. One night of temptation leads into something vicious and violent.
Miss Lopez has never been shy in front of a camera(who's complaining) and there are plenty of scenes that allow her to show her assets. Along with the violence, there is some partial nudity and sexual situations. This thriller earns its R rating.
Also in the cast: Kristin Chenoweth, Lexie Atkins, Hill Harper and Jack Wallace.
Enter Laughing (1967)
There is humor to be found.
Situational humor mixed with romance as director Carl Reiner adapts his autobiographical play to the big screen. David Kolowitz(Reni Santoni)lives in the Bronx in a small apartment with his mother Emma(Shirley Winters)and father Morris(David Opatoshu). David works in an electrical machine shop, but dreams of a career in acting on the stage; that is how you become a movie star. His mother insists that the family must borrow money to get David in a school, so he can become a respectable pharmacist. The young dreamer finds an add looking for stage actors to work in a rundown theater run by Harrison Marlow(Jose Ferer)and his daughter Angela(Elaine May). One a heavy drinker and the other a ham actor. The job doesn't pay much; actually nothing at all...the chosen actor will pay the theater for learning to act.
I kept waiting for this movie to get funny. The humor only had me aggravated. I guess, it could be regional humor I was missing out on. Other players: Janet Margolin, Michael J. Pollard, Nancy Kovack, Richard Deacon and Don Rickles. Small appearance by Rob Reiner.
It Follows (2014)
More than teen angst...this is life or death.
Miss Maika Monroe is not a disappointment. The charming looker plays Jay Height, who appears to be a typical teen, reasonably close to her sister Kelly(Lill Sepe)and living in a nice neighborhood in a liberal household. Jay on a date engages in casual sex in the back seat of Hugh's(Jake Weary)car. Jay is given strange notice that a mysterious entity will be tracking her with intent to do gravely harm. That is the major problem, getting away from this malignant presence is another. She must have sex with someone else very soon to pass on this "situation". If she fails, both she and Hugh will die. The sinister tracker can take on any form it chooses; and may also be invisible to others as it attacks.
Enough suspense to grab and hold you. And at least one scene that will have you jumping half out of your seat. A few disturbing images and plenty of "eye candy".
Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell with a cast that also features: Kier Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto and Caitlin Burt.
Ex Machina (2015)
Highly recommended Sci-Fi!
Alex Garland may or may not be considered a genius, but he has written and directed one masterful movie. But this may just be in the eye of the beholder. Caleb Smith(Domhall Gleeson) is a highly intelligent programmer at an international-search giant. His boss, the CEO, Nathan Bateman(Oscar Isaac)happens to be a brilliant minded recluse and fakes a contest for Caleb to win. The prize being a week at Nathan's private mountain estate far from anywhere. Caleb has been specifically chosen to be the human component of a testing of Nathan's latest experiment...Ava(Alicia Vikander), a breath-taking A.I. with unchallenged conscious and emotional capabilities. Ava proves to be sophisticated, very seductive and dangerously deceptive.
Special effects are extraordinary, surprisingly fresh and mind boggling. Scenery more than charming. Fantastic finale, but could have been more thought out. Do I personally want a sequel? Hell, yes!! Also appearing: Sonoya Mizuno, Claire Selby, Symara A. Templeman and Corey Johnson.
Juke Box Rhythm (1959)
Rhythm...dancing feet...happy hand jive.
Another Sam Katzman quickie production with a rock 'n' roll pretense. Arthur Dreifuss directs JUKE BOX RHYTHM, a quaint little story about a European princess coming to America to select a wardrobe for her coronation. Princess Ann(Jo Morrow)slips away from her controlling Aunt Margaret(Freida Inescort)and is photographed dancing with a young singer Riff Manton(Jack Jones). Riff is trying to find money to help his father George(Brian Donlevy) support a show he is wanting to produce. It is hoped to be a comeback after a six year drought of flops.
The scheme will be to get the Princess to have a wardrobe made by former junk-man turned fashion designer Balenko(Hans Conried). Balenko will give Riff the money to in turn provide the backing for his dad's production. Entertainers for this show called Juke Box Jamboree is to include the Earl Grant Trio, Johnny Otis, Georgie Jessel, The Treniers and Riff fancying himself as a rock and roll singer.(Joke).
Singer Jones is making his movie debut with other players: Karin Booth, Marjorie Reynolds, Fritz Feld and Edgar Barrier. Some of the tunes of the soundtrack: "Let's Fall In Love", "Spring Is The Season To Fall In Love", "The Freeze", "Juke Box Jamboree", "Get Out of the Car" and the closest thing to rock 'n' roll, "Willie and the Hand Jive" by Clyde Otis.
Crash Landing (1958)
The pilot prepares for a wet landing.
Airline pilot Captain Steve Williams(Gary Merrill)assures his wife, Helen(Nancy Davis Reagan)everything is just routine and after instruments check OK, he put his plane in the air. It is his regular flight from Portugal to New York City; things get bumpy...disaster strikes. One of the plane's huge engines catches fire; then another just quits. A safe landing is questionable; he must prepare his passengers for a crash landing into the cold Atlantic Ocean.
A tense mere 1 hr. 16 min. drama directed by Fred F. Sears. Other players include: Irene Hervey, Richard Keith, Sheridan Comerate, Jewell Lain, Celia Lovsky and Roger Smith.
Tight Spot (1955)
Gangster's gal hangs tough.
This crime drama directed by Phil Karlson has elements of comedy. Street-smart Sherry Conley(Ginger Rogers)is a gangster's moll that makes the best of being put in a tight spot. U.S. District Attorney Hallett(Edward G. Robinson)has Miss Conley temporarily released from prison to get some testimony for the upcoming trial of her boyfriend Ben Costain(Lorne Greene). Sherry finds herself put up in a swanky hotel with room service and Hallett tries to pressure her for just a bit of information, but she has smart quips and a healthy appetite. The D.A. has a cynical Detective Striker(Brian Keith)pull guard duty as Miss Conley has a few attempts on her life. Striker is so attentive, Sherry is smitten.
Rounding out the cast of this Columbia Pictures Film-Noir: Peter Leeds, Katherine Anderson, Doye O'Dell and Lucy Marlow.
Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010)
Grudge match; croc vs gator!
Under the watchful eye of producer Roger Corman, director Jim Wynorski presents a big croc; and a big gator as a double threat to society before turning on each other. Created by devious and ego maniacal Jason Drake(David Carradine),in a secret island lab, dinocroc and supergator are groomed to humongous proportions...ooops! Damn, they escape and it seems bullets and explosives only make them hungrier and meaner. These reptiles are ready to eat tourists, scientists, almost naked bikini models and even a small militia when available.
Called to the rescue are undercover investigator Paul Beaumont(Corey Landis), attractive Fish & Game officer Cassidy Swanson(Amy Holt) and for extra measure, the crafty swamp hunter known as "The Cajun"(Rib Hillis). The two menacing, scaly lizards snack and nosh at will until the only way to defeat them is to invite them to a battle royal. That's when the earth will actually shake and rattle at the ultimate smackdown.
Of course this is time out for some fantasy mixed with comic relief. At times the special effects are really decent. Rounding out the cast: Eddie Spivak, Delia Sheppard, James C. Burns, Lisa Clapperton, Michael Bernardi and Aurelia Scheppers.
The Santa Monica hills come alive with...
OK, we've endured SHARKTOPUS vs WHALEWOLF, SHARKNADO and DINOCROC vs SUPERGATOR...so I know we can handle LAVALANTULA. All joking aside, SyFy standards have been raised a little. The Santa Monica Mountains start rockin', rollin' and shaking' as a configuration of ancient volcanoes erupt and spew out from deep underground giant tarantulas. Fire breathing and lava spitting tarantulas. I do find this more awesome than sharks falling from the sky. Humongous tarantulas running amok in Los Angeles disintegrating, maiming and burning people alive.
Coming to the rescue is an action star past his prime, Colton West(Steve Guttenberg), who just so happened to have walked off a possible comeback project. On his way home he realizes earthquakes are not the sole reason for all hell breaking loose. Lava fires and rapid moving angry tarantulas are not part of a movie. Colton steps up to be an actual hero and is all over the news channels that remain on the air. Thought to be a has been, West teams with some former co-stars to fight off this strange attack.
Have to admit that the special effects are really worth watching and may even leave a better impression than some of the stars: Ralph Garman, Danny Woodburn, Patrick Renna, Noah Hunt, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Diana Hopper, Jon Edwin Wright and Leslie Easterbrook. The still gorgeous Nia Peeples plays West's wife.