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185 reviews in total 
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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable antidote for hot summer afternoons, 2 September 2014

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit for what is. It provided humor in 3 forms: sight gags; repartee; and inside jokes. I just loved Robert Davi's cameo and Arnold's crack about marriage. The movie was two hours short - in that it flew by and I didn't look at my watch once. But I must admit, the movie may have gotten an extra half-star or more from me because my local movie multiplex gave me what I was looking for most: blissful air conditioning. Judging by the number of other seniors in the audience on a 90+ degree September day in its fourth week of release, I would say we weren't the only ones looking for heat relief with unchallenging popcorn action and humor. And that's what we got.

One thing that made this movie one cut above most action films for me was the villain, (Mad) Max Stonebanks, played to the hilt by Mel Gibson - so convincingly mercenary and smug, I came close to rooting for him. OK, he's no Hans Gruber - but who is? After that, he's probably in my top 3 of action hero villains in the past 40 years. He chews up the scenery but always in the framework of who he is. A wonderful surprise for me was Harrison Ford playing the agency desk jockey in what I assumed was a cameo role. It turned out to be a major role and he provided a wonderful counterpoint for both Arnold and Sly. It almost goes without saying that Jason Statham continues to be one of my favorite action movie stars while Lundgren and Couture got to give their best performances in the series. Sly was Sly - not as good as he was in the first one, but a good straight man to Statham and Kelsey Grammar (speaking of wonderful mercenaries) and the young kids. I note other criticized the performances of the young actors. I thought the gal and the tech guy were highly engaging and well-suited for their roles. The other two provided beefcake and nothing's wrong with that. The one-joke that played on much too long was Antonio Banderas' character. This is a bit of a shame since Banderas' performance and swagger were dead-on and he still provides eye candy for those so inclined. His character was the supposed comic relief and had so much repetitive screen time for variations on the same joke that it ceased to be funny long before the screenplay continued to tell it. But this is the only irritating note in an otherwise wonderful afternoon.

I came to have fun and I had fun - in blissful air conditioning. I'm happy!

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Torturous, 15 August 2014

Sitting through this film was torturous. Watching it oh-so-slowly and meticulously unfold depicting, graphic wartime torture, "the code", guilt trips, post-traumatic-stress-disorder-in-the-extreme, executing Lomax's revenge plan, followed by a transforming forgiveness and redemption that seemed a bit forced - but oh-so-welcome! As convincing as Kidman and Firth were separately in delineating convincingly the tortures and challenges of their characters and the motivating depths of their love, they were even more unconvincing about having any physical chemistry with each other (and Kidman REALLY tried - it just was not there). The actor playing young Lomax and the actors playing the young and older versions of the Japanese Inquisitor were also excellent and convincing - which made watching the scrupulously detailed and in-your- face-so-you-should-never-forget-these-horrors torture scenes - all that much harder to take.

I can sit and watch a film that depicts horrible and inhumane acts on varied scales (eg., Lone Survivor, Hotel Rwanda, The Killing Fields) and still appreciate the experience even though it leaves me drained and I may only be able to watch those movies once, they still get 9 or 10 ratings from me. And they are watchable while leaving their indelible impressions. This was an endurance test that made Zero Dark Thirty seem like Mary Poppins in comparison. There must be a better way to tell Mr. Lomax's story than to torture the audience to make absolutely certain that its "Amnesty International" message never leaves its audience's consciousness. I also did not appreciate the older version of the senior officer (played by the greatly overrated Skellan Skorsgard - a method actor who is all method and no act) committing suicide as a glorious sacrificial act to get the message across to spur Lomax to action. I don't know whether Lomax claims this really happened or if this was artistic license on the filmmaker's part but to me, this suicide-as-dramatic-statement segue made the whole experience that much less meaningful.

In short, Lomax's story was interesting and should have been told. But it should not have been turned into a polemic and an endurance test for its audience which is what this was to me. I love Firth and Kidman and thought almost all of the acting other than as mentioned was excellent. So maybe 2 is too harsh and as I get further away from the torture the filmmakers just forced me to endure, I might raise it to a 4 - but not now. It's just too soon for me.

At any rate, if you watch this wishing to watch a well-acted and graphic anti-torture polemic using Lomax's story and his epiphany of forgiveness and reconciliation to justify the extreme lengths it goes to make its point, then enjoy torturing yourself! You'll probably give this 10/10 and feel like a superior human being for doing so. If, on the other hand, you are looking to be engrossed and entertained for two hours by a love story combined with a sufferer of PTSD and a story of redemption (which is what I thought I would see from the trailers), then STAY AWAY! STAY FAR AWAY! There is nothing entertaining about The Railway Man,

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely Remarkable Movie and Performances, 8 March 2014

I am avid movie lover and have seen more than 2,000 movies in my tome - and remember most of them. The best male lead performance I have ever seen is Paul Schofield in a Man For All Seasons. In second place, I had Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine - until now. I've long liked McConnaughy and found him very impressive in We Are Marshall and The Lincoln Lawyer. Neither performance set me up for this. His every mannerism, every nuance, every way of carrying himself in every scene and every situation is utterly on target. This is a terrific movie and almost the entire cast is flawless but the lead performance is truly in a class by itself.

The next point I wish to make is that this is one of the few of the very many independent movies I've seen that involved HIV and the gay community without hitting the viewer over the head with it even though it was 100% central to the plot. What I mean is that there was none of the normal obligatory gilding of the lily just to make sure the viewer gets the message.

Also interesting is the fact that both McConnaughy and Leto (also 100% Oscar-worthy) manage to play larger-than-life characters convincingly without ever acting larger-than-life. It's a subtlety and rare that actors can play such characters without chewing up the scenery but both manage somehow to do it which speaks quite well for the director.

The pacing is considerably better than most indies or Hollywood non- action dramas. I only looked at my watch once. Griffin Dunne is noteworthy in his supporting performance. Jennifer Garner is far better than in the last movie she did about battling Big Pharma, Love and Other Drugs. She still tries a quarter-of-an-octave too hard, but that's really getting picky in one of the best movies I've seen in this century thus far.

Non-Stop (2014)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Well-paced entertainment, 2 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This has a lot more suspense and is faster-paced than Neeson's last 3 films I saw: Taken 2; Unknown; and The Grey. In fact, it reminded me a bit more of Unstoppable in its pacing and tone. It is exciting and well- acted. Most of all, it's fun to watch. It all strains credibility at time. It's interesting to me that the denouement is not so much to stop the board on exploding but to get the plane down to an elevation where the pressure has a chance of stabilizing and minimizing the loss of life -a different twist. The way in which Neeson becomes everybody's prime suspect and then recovers - which is the bulk - of the film is clever and suspenseful. If you like Neeson and you lie heroic action-suspense movies - especially in the theater -yo will enjoy this. If you like neither Neeson nor his version of the genre which always calls for you to suspend a bit of credibility, then why did you bother to see this anyway?

A Good Sport (1984) (TV)
80's TV Update of Woman of the Year, 14 February 2014

The Tracy-Hepburn Woman of the Year is on my all-time top 10 list. This 80's attempt to modernize it doesn't hold a candle to the original, but what could?

On it's own terms, this is an amusing way to spend an hour and a half. Although it is true that the age-old battle-of-the-sexes and fish-out-of- water jokes are no longer fresh and the supporting case and directorial prowess are nothing special, Lee Remick and Ralph Waite are seasoned pros who are well-suited to their roles and have great chemistry together. In her 25th year in acting, Ms. Remick still looked as scintillating as she did in A Face In The Crowd if much more mature. Her acting times each line perfectly for maximum effect. Waite's gruff teddy bear style compliments her perfectly. The result is enjoyable fun and seeing the two professionals bounce lines of f each other is pure pleasure. Worth watching.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Seinfeld for the Fifty-something set - Disappointing, 14 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was looking forward to what had been described to me as an offbeat and whimsical independent romantic comedy. What I got was more Thirty- something dramedy with Seinfeld-ish quirky mocking humor (at least they spared me the ugly baby jokes), self-conscious direction and camera- work, and no real plot. JLD's Eva was very similar to her characters such as Seinfeld's Elaine and Old Christine, a pretty woman with a nice smile whose pettiness and annoyance with everything undermines her aspirations to make her life better. Gandolfini is perfectly cast and delivers a solidly nuanced performance in the male lead.

Side note - Toni Colette is one of my favorite all-time actresses but she's horribly misused here in a character that starts out being mildly eccentric and is consistently photographed in close-ups that make her big head seem enormous. But what was really disconcerting was the way her Australian accent filtered in and out, mixed with something else, but not at all sounding like her natural Australian self in her early movies. Just one of many examples of missed opportunities with the talent at hand.

One thing the director is obviously trying to do is show us the good and bad of all her characters. This is admirable, but like the camera-work, alternately jarring and brilliant - but more former than latter. The attraction to the creators of doing an independent film is the ability to express yourselves artistically bu doing jarring things different from the norm. As Keener's Marianne alluded with her poetry, art is open to interpretation but only idiots don't get her poems. I think the filmmakers may feel the same way, As art, draw your own conclusions, as entertainment, there was enough enjoyable and thought-provoking here to watch it all the way through, but not enough to enjoy doing so very much.

The movie is not without its interesting insights. Some reviewers saw Keener as one-note; I vehemently disagree - she got the nuances of her talented poet character whose only other friend was Joni Mitchell very well. Nothing is universal but poets tend to be prone to introversion and depression. They feel misunderstood by the masses. The scene where she is obviously unmoved by the adoring fans who recognized her and tell her how their poems changed their lives is perfect. Keener could not have been more dead-on with her portrayal - more interested in witching about how her ex-husband was uncouth and couldn't get her poetry than noticing how uncouth she was being with young women whose lives she had affected. That's what's so frustrating about this movie - it has wonderful moments such as this but focuses more on the dysfunctional way Eva runs her life. Building resentment from what she's not wants but is not getting without knowing how to give - except to equally dysfunctional women such as Maryann and Chloe (another subplot that went nowhere). Interesting observations that stop short of being insights and turn out to be more frustrating paths leading nowhere than entertainment for the viewer.

Back to the Seinfeld comparison, in the end, this is a movie about nothing. It has some witty humor but more ridicule humor and misanthropy. In the end, Enough Said leaves its characters pretty much in the same place where they started. Enough said about Enough Said.

Last Vegas (2013)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Flatbush Four reunite in Vegas and it's pleasantly entertaining, 10 February 2014

This movie lets you know the concept from the start and rolls it out in wry style. The Flatbush Four had been together from High School. The wealthiest and most conniving Billy (Michael Douglas) was the only one who had never gotten married. But that changes in the beginning of the movie when he proposes to his shapely 32 year old live-in girlfriend Lisa - while giving the eulogy at his mentor's funeral - following a couple of tasteless sex jokes that evoked reactions from the mourners like the Springtime for Hitler musical evoked from the audience at the Producers.

The rest of the movie never lives up to that start - and it as predictable as a well-planed day - but it is an exceedingly pleasant romp with old friends. Kevin Kline's opening bit with wife Joanna Gleason when he's trying to determine whether water aerobics biddy Ira is still breathing is hilarious. He carries his character with charm and aplomb and even though we know what will happen when he finally gets his big shot, he still makes it work for us somehow. Morgan Freeman's character, Archie, is probably the least interestingly written but he's played by Morgan Freeman so he shows us a wonderful time as usual. Somewhat surprisingly to me, DeNiro gives the most restrained performance and it works wonderfully. Even though it is ostensibly Michael Douglas' film, his character is the most clichéd and the least surprising - but he's still enjoying being with his friends and so are we. The bits surrounding rapper 50 Cent fit in well with the decadent venue. A cameo by 70's Harrad Experiment star Elliott Street is a real treat as a Vegas minister who knows that his clients don't take his services seriously but still does his job devotedly. In a fantasy comedy world where the septuagenarians have no real money problems, the decadent-but-still-doing-its-thing-for-as-long-as-it-lasts Vegas they show is surprisingly real. That said, the scene where Morgan Freeman bribes the Deejay so the Flatbush Four can be the celebrity judges works wonderfully as we get the same T & A cheap thrills the boys do - harmless lower case titillation and what's wrong with that?

So, I've taken a long time to say that Last Vegas is an unchallenging lowbrow entertainment with a few wry twists. If you are looking to be amused for two hours and don't take yourself or your morals very seriously, you'll probably smile as much as I did and even chuckle out loud two or three times.

Self-Centered Gentry Drama Founders in Clichés, 4 February 2014

This is a very British movie. To the gentry, the inconvenient hit-and- run death of a commoner is too messy to allow it to tarnish their lives even if that commoner happens to be the spouse of their servant (wonderfully played by Linda Bassett).

In point of fact, all the acting is excellent and takes us in-depth into the shallowness and fecklessness of its three leads. Emily Watson is one of my favorite actresses and her eyes and smile send my heart a- flutter. She is fascinating plumbing the depths of the soul of well- meaning wife who kills her beloved servant's husband without taking legal responsibility and cuckolds and deserts her husband. She earnestly regrets all but does nothing about it - even to the point of forcing the cuckolded husband to lie in support of her lover's lie. Rupert Everett is so perfectly cast as the feckless and ne'er-do-well- but-charming son of A Lord (wonderfully played by John Neville)that it almost seems as though the part were written for him. Tom Wilkenson plays the influential barrister who allows himself to be disrespected and depressed but never quite disgraced enough by the private humiliation to show his embarrassment in public. To say that this is a balancing act for an actor of titanic proportions is an understatement. But, after all, this is Tom Wilkinson, one of the greatest living actors on the planet and he pulls it off with grace and aplomb.

So, why just 4/10 for this drawing room drama? it buckles under the weight of its own clichés and the script fails to compensate with any type of droll wit, just bitter irony -and not enough of that. For a glimpse of how this should be done, see the marvelous 1950 adaptation of J. B. Priestly's An Inspector Calls starring Alistair Sim or the film adaptation Terrence Rattigan's Separate Tables. Both interject their characters with enough self-effacing and ironic droll wit that the tawdry situations seem fresh and new. Here they are simply tawdry clichés. This is especially true of Wilkinson's obligatory affair with office-mate Hermoine Norris who welcomes the boss into her bed and still supports him after he unceremoniously dumps her. The obligatory rants against the gentry's disregard for the working class by the Police Detective (the always-excellent David Harewood) to the servant just adds to the viewer's shrugs of "Again?"

I'd pay good money on the West End to see Wilkinson, Watson, Everett, Harewood, and Bassett read the phone book. The trouble is that I think they would be able to improvise more interest, originality, and droll lines from the phone book than from this script. Ultimately, I found this a disappointing deployment of a half dozen amazing performances.

In summary, if you wish to see Separate Lies as a canvas for excellent British acting to study and hone your own techniques, it is well worth renting. If you watch this as entertainment, you will find yourself looking at your watch and ultimately be disappointed.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of my favorite and most subtle comedies of this millennium thus far, 2 February 2014

This movie is one of the very few to use the dual-narrator device to make it work - and magnificently so. Hugh Grant's unabashed self-assessment of his shallowness and why he did what he did is refreshing and fits him so perfectly as an actor, it should be a requisite. Young Mr. Hough's performance for a juvenile actor is stunningly perfect and drives the character. Toni Colette's vegan grown-up-hippie and chronically depressed mother is brilliantly conceived and executed by one of the best actresses of our era. Around this perfectly conceived and believable exposition are terrific supporting performances including Rachael Weisz and a terrific eye for detail from the director. I just love this movie more every time I watch it and I've seen it five times.

Labor Day (2013)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Satisfying and involving if a bit slow at first, 2 February 2014

This was a satisfying movie that actually took me back to one of my favorite old TV movies, My Sweet Charlie, without the racial angle. The story is well-told and well-developed. Josh Brolin is excellent as always (outside the Coen-Brothers films where they are intent on casting him as a moron) playing the convicted murderer who is quite different than the public warnings would suggest. Kate Winslett never ceases to amaze me with her acting. This is right up there with her best work. Gattlin Griffith is very good as her son and Clark Gregg gives added dimension and insight with what ordinarily have been the thankless role of the ex-husband. J. K. Simmons appearance seems to be an obligatory cameo to keep Reitman's lucky streak going by casting him in all of Reitman's movies and Tobey Maguire's cameo seems even more perfunctory. The first quarter of the movie takes a bit too long to get things going and the narration abruptly cuts out midway through the film and then returns at the very end to complete the story in a breathless 30-second wrap-up.

These are all minor quibbles in a romantic tale in 1970's New England, exquisitely photographed and woven taking you into the region and era with great skill One of the great all-time romances - not quite, but possibly in the top 200, still not bad.

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