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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Silly, sexist and almost completely unfunny!, 10 September 2014

'THE OTHER WOMAN': One and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Revenge comedy flick about three women who bond after discovering they've all been sleeping with the same man, and then plot revenge on him. Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and supermodel Kate Upton star as the three women, out for revenge, and Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau plays the despicable cheater they're seeking vengeance on. Taylor Kinney, Don Johnson and rapper Nicki Minaj also costar in the movie. It was directed by veteran actor, and filmmaker, Nick Cassavetes (who's directed other popular chick-flicks like 'THE NOTEBOOK') and written by first time feature film writer Melissa Stack. I found the movie to be silly, sexist and almost completely unfunny.

Diaz plays Carly, a lawyer who recently started dating a handsome ladies man named Mark (Coster-Waldau). When she decides to surprise him one night at his house, wearing a sexy outfit, she discovers Mark is married. His wife, Kate (Mann), is just as surprised to find out Mark has a girlfriend and the two women form a friendship, based on their mutual depression and disgust for Mark. They later learn that Mark is also having an affair with another woman, the much younger Amber (Upton). The three ladies then team together in getting revenge on Mark; by doing things like putting estrogen in his smoothies, putting hair removal cream in his shampoo and filling his drinks with laxatives.

The movie is about as unoriginal as a comedy film can get and the jokes are horrendous and painful to watch. Mann has been good in other movies (like those directed by her husband Judd Apatow) but here she severely overacts. Diaz is OK but she's a little too old for her part. Upton looks great but can't act. I would have much rather seen Minaj in Upton's role (and she's by far the hottest woman in the movie, in my opinion). The characters are all stereotypes, and insulting to both genders, and the comedy just doesn't work (for the most part). There's a few good laughs, here and there, but they're way too few and far between.

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Calvary (2014)
The dedication that a good priest gives to their job is extremely admirable!, 9 September 2014

'CALVARY': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Irish drama film about a priest battling dark thoughts after his life is threatened during a confessional. It was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh (who also performed both duties on the 2011 Irish buddy cop flick 'THE GUARD') and stars Brendan Gleeson (who also stars in 'THE GUARD'). The movie costars Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankole and M. Emmet Walsh (it also features a cameo performance by Brendan's son Domhnall Gleeson). I found it to be a very dark and depressing film but ultimately fascinating and spiritually uplifting.

The movie tells the story of Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson), a priest in a small rural Irish town. One day during confession a parishioner tells him he was molested as a child and as retaliation, for his long suffering, he's going to kill a good priest; because he says that people will take more notice in the killing of a good priest (rather than a bad one). He tells Father James that priest will be him and his murder will take place in seven days time, on the beach. Father James spends the rest of the week, leading up till then, meeting with different people, including his daughter (Reilly), and reflecting on life.

The film is a dark but beautiful examination on life and faith. It does a really good job of showing the troubles a priest must go through, maintaining their faith and trying to guide others, while making all the sacrifices they must make and seeing all the ugliness they must see (due to their job). At times it does feel heavily critical, of the catholic church, but it also shows all the good that priests, like Father James, do as well. Gleeson is brilliant in the lead and McDonagh's directing and screenplay are masterful too. I grew up catholic so the story, and subject matter, is especially interesting to me. I think the dedication that a good priest gives to their job is extremely admirable. Of course there's a lot of bad priests as well but positions of power often lead to corruption (the sacrifices the church asks priests to make is also greatly to blame for their problems). I think priests are a lot like police in that way; the bad ones give their whole profession a bad name but the good ones are true and admirable heroes.

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The Normal Heart (2014) (TV)
This is a section of history I knew little about!, 5 September 2014

'THE NORMAL HEART': Four Stars (Out of Five)

Made for HBO TV movie about a gay writer (and activist) attempting to inform the world about the HIV-AIDS epidemic, during it's onset in the early 1980s. It was directed by Ryan Murphy (who's famous for writing and directing many popular TV shows, like 'GLEE', 'AMERICAN HORROR STORY' and 'NIP/TUCK') and written by Larry Kramer. Kramer also wrote the successful 1985 play (of the same name) it's based on. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Taylor Kitsch, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff (of 'GLEE' fame), Alfred Molina and Julia Roberts. I found it to be extremely informative and also, at times, really emotional.

The film is set in New York City, from 1981 to 1984. During this time the HIV-AIDS disease was becoming a crisis, especially among gay people. Ned Weeks (Ruffalo) was an openly gay writer and activist who founded the 'Gay Men's Health Crisis' advocacy group and made it his mission to try to inform everyone he could about the deadly virus. Due to his public aggressiveness he had many conflicts with his own organization, especially it's elected president (Kitsch). He did find a lot of support from his lover (Bomer) and a doctor (Roberts), fighting to stop the plague as well.

This is a section of history I knew little about, so this movie was very interesting and compelling to me. Any compassionate person should be able to sympathize with the gay community, especially at this time, because (like this movie shows) it did seem like they were abandoned by society and left to die off; from a brutal disease that most people (unaffected by it) weren't willing to learn about. It is a very moving story and the cast here does a great job bringing it to life. The directing is good as well and Kramer's writing is brilliant. Definitely a great history lesson; at least for those who aren't as informed on the subject (like me).

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Has that magical 50s nostalgic feel!, 4 September 2014

'THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Sci-fi musical comedy flick about a gang of deliquent misfits, from outer space, who are exiled to earth and trying to find their way home. It was produced and directed by Paul Bunnell and written by Bunnell, Steve Bingen, Mark D. Murphy and George Wagner. The film stars Will Keenan in the title role (who's probably most well known for playing Tromeo in the Troma flick 'TROMEO AND JULIET') and it also features a supporting cast which includes Creed Bratton (Creed of 'THE OFFICE' fame), De Anna Joy Brooks, Reggie Bannister (of 'PHANTASM' fame), Les Williams, Jed Rowen, Kevin McCarthy (of 'INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS' fame) and veteran actor Paul Williams. The movie was made on a budget of just $2 million and was the lowest grossing film of 2012! I found it to be a pretty amusing and fun time at the movies.

The movie begins, in outer space, with Jonathan Xavier (Keenan) being exiled to Earth by The Grand Inquisitor (McCarthy). Johnny then spends his days causing trouble, on Earth, with his gang of troublemaking friends. His girlfriend Bliss (Brooks) recently dumped him and ran off with his 'Resurrection Suit'; which is a powerful uniform that can control others. Johnny will now stop at nothing to get the suit back and win back Bliss's love. Multiple musical numbers follow as the plot also involves Johnny's gang helping a music promoter (Bannister) put on a show with a dead rock star (Bratton).

I really love the style and enthusiasm of this 50s throwback sci-fi flick. Bunnell really got the mood and feel right; of the B movies from that era. I'm not from the 50s but I remember watching a lot of movies from that time period, growing up as a child, in the 70s and 80s. So even for me this movie has that magical 50s nostalgic feel. The acting is all good and the music numbers are well done and catchy as well. It's definitely not a flick for everyone, some will find it downright stupid and silly, but it should more than please it's target audience (if they ever see it).

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bizarrely entertaining!, 4 September 2014

'THE ONE I LOVE': Four Stars (Out of Five)

Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss costar in this indie romantic comedy flick about a married couple, struggling to stay together, who go on a weekend getaway in an attempt to work things out. It was directed by first-time feature filmmaker Charlie McDowell and written by first-time feature film writer Justin Lade. Ted Danson costars in the movie as the couple's therapist. The film is funny, and bizarrely entertaining, due to a pretty clever script.

Duplass plays Ethan and Moss plays Sophie. The two have been married for some time but things have become difficult for them, recently, due to some infidelity. At the advice of their therapist (Danson) the couple decides to go stay at a secluded vacation house for the weekend; in an effort to try to reconcile their differences and rekindle their love. After the two get high, on the first night, things get really strange (and it's not because of the weed).

Without giving away too much of the movie, there are some pretty unique twists and turns; which make it very interesting to watch. It's funny, because of it's bizarreness, but it's also a thoughtful examination on love and relationships. Duplass and Moss are both great in the leads and Lade's script is brilliant. McDowell's directing is pretty decent, for a first-time filmmaker, but the movie overall is a tad too dark and depressing. The ending has some optimism though and it also leaves you with another great twist. I think 4 stars (out of 5) is fair.

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Definitely no cult classic., 4 September 2014

'CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO': Three Stars (Out of Five)

Prequel to the first two 'CABIN FEVER' films, revolving around how the gruesome virus originally broke out. It was directed by Kaare Andrews (who previously helmed the 2010 horror flick 'ALTITUDE' and a segment of the 2012 anthology thriller 'THE ABCS OF DEATH') and written by Jake Wade Wall. The movie stars Sean Astin, Mitch Ryan, Jillian Murray, Brando Eaton, Ryan Donowho, Claudette Lali and Currie Graham. It delivers the same over-the-top gore and claustrophobic suspense, as the first two films, but not nearly as much of the dark and witty humor; that made the original movie such a cult classic.

Astin plays Porter; the sole survivor of a deadly flesh eating virus, which kills all the other residents on a remote island. A scientist named Dr. Edwards (Graham) captures Porter and keeps him in a lab, while his research team tries to create a vaccine. After months of being held captive Porter becomes obsessed with breaking out. He causes a lockdown, by spreading the virus to others in the lab. At the same time four friends, celebrating a bachelor party, arrive at the island on a boat.

Eli Roth's original film is a horror movie classic! Ti West's sequel did a pretty good job of continuing the franchise in possibly an even grosser and more disgusting way. This prequel has plenty of grotesque gore, and is somewhat scary, but it lacks the clever wit and nasty thrills that made the first two movies much more memorable (especially Roth's original). Astin is good in this installment and the directing is decent but it's definitely no cult classic.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Has that really genuine claustrophobic feel to it!, 4 September 2014

'AS ABOVE, SO BELOW': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Another horror flick from director John Erick Dowdle; who also helmed 'QUARANTINE', 'DEVIL' and 'THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES'. Dowdle wrote the film with his brother Drew (his usual writing partner) and it's presented in the 'found footage' storytelling format. The movie stars Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge and Francois Civil. It tells the story of a group of explorers who journey into the deadly catacombs beneath Paris, in search of a legendary stone. The story and characters are a little weak but the suspense and creepy imagery is really well done (especially if you're high).

Weeks plays Scarlett; a tough and young adventurer who's been in search of the Philosopher's Stone, for many years. The Philosopher's Stone is an alchemical substance believed to rejuvenate life. Scarlett believes it can be found in the miles of catacombs beneath Paris. She enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend George (Feldman), her friend (and cameraman) Benji (Hodge) and a team of other explorers to venture into the deadly maze with her. As strange occurrences begin happening they soon learn they may have entered Hell itself.

The film does start out a little slow and I never found myself that interested in any of the characters or story (although Weeks looks stunningly beautiful the whole time). Still the movie has that really genuine claustrophobic feel to it, at times, and it's almost always creepy (at least in the second half of the film). Dowdle is definitely a good director, for this type of material, and the movie definitely delivers what audiences, of these types of movies, are paying for (especially if you're stoned when you see it)!

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1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Every bit as thrilling, funny and visually enthralling as the original!, 27 August 2014

'SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR': Five Stars (Out of Five)

Sequel (and prequel) to the 2005 hit crime thriller 'SIN CITY'. It's once again directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller and it's also once again based on Miller's neo-noir comic book series (with Miller writing the film's screenplay as well). Two of the movie's four stories are based on the comic and the other two segments were written for this film. Stars Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson and Jaime King all reprise their roles from the original flick. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd and many others play new characters in it; while Josh Brolin (replacing Clive Owen as Dwight), Jeremy Piven (replacing Michael Madsen as Bob), Dennis Haysbert (replacing the late Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute) and Jamie Chung (replacing the pregnant Devon Aoki as Miho) also join the new cast. Some of the events in the movie take place before some segments in the original film, while others take place after some parts of the first movie (making it somewhat confusing at times). I enjoyed the film, a lot, and I think it's every bit as thrilling, funny and visually enthralling as the original!

The first of the film's four segments is titled 'Just Another Saturday Night' (based on a short story from the comic) and has Marv (Rourke) taking on four rich frat guys. The second story is played out in two parts and titled 'The Long Bad Night' (it's an original story). It deals with a very skilled young gambler, named Johnny (Gordon-Levitt), seeking revenge on a Sin City senator, Senator Roarke (Booth). The third story is based on the 'Sin City' limited comic book series 'A Dame to Kill For'. It tells the story of why Dwight McCarthy (Brolin) had to have facial reconstruction. It has to do with a messed up former lover of his, named Ava Lord (Green). The last story is another original and it's called 'Nancy's Last Dance'. It has to do with Nancy Callahan (Alba) also wanting revenge on the powerful Senator Roarke, for her former lover's suicide. Bruce Willis returns as the ghost of John Hartigan, in this segment.

The reviews, from critics, have been mixed (and not nearly as good as the original film) and the box office has been dismal (much worse than the first one); I still loved this movie though! Poor box office, for one thing, is no sign of a film's quality because if no one sees it how do they know if they like it. It's actually more of a sign of poor marketing, or just lack of interest in the material trying to be sold; which surprises me because the first one is a beloved classic and anticipation for it's sequel was huge. Could a nine year wait really have deflated excitement, from fans, that much?! Other film series have had similar delays (like the waits for the first 'TERMINATOR' and 'ALIEN' sequels). Regardless of why the theater turnout was so low, or how it got somewhat weak reviews, it's still a great movie and I'm sure it will become a cult classic! The visuals are, once again, breathtaking and while it's very similar (in style) to the original, it's still like nothing else you've seen (in movies) in the last nine years. I was intrigued and entertained by every minute of it. It's the perfect homage to film noir and grindhouse filmmaking alike, like the original one. I can't see why any 'SIN CITY' fan wouldn't love it.

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Not nearly as funny or fresh as Jon Favreau's 'CHEF'., 27 August 2014

'THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

The second movie, this summer, focusing on a chef exploring their talents and sharing them with the rest of the world (following 'CHEF'). This one was directed by Lasse Hallstrom (who's directed such critically acclaimed hits as 'CHOCOLAT', 'THE CIDER HOUSE RULES' and 'WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE') and written by Steven Knight (who's also written such critically acclaimed hits as 'EASTERN PROMISES', 'DIRTY PRETTY THINGS' and 'LOCKE'). It was based on the book, of the same name, by Richard C. Morais and stars Manish Dayal, Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Charlotte Le Bon. It's nothing too original but it is entertaining and a beautiful film to look at.

Puri plays Papa Kadam, the head of a family which runs a successful restaurant in Mumbai, India. When rioters burn down his restaurant, and his wife is killed in the resulting fire, Papa moves his family to Europe. He finds an abandoned restaurant in a French village and decides to buy it and turn it into his own Indian family restaurant there. The only problem is that there's a very successful and acclaimed restaurant, owned by the arrogant Madame Mallory (Mirren), directly across the street. A bitter rivalry escalates between Papa and Madame Mallory until violence once again results, from a cook employed by the Madame. She fires the cook as a result and then forms a relationship with one of Papa's sons, Hassan (Dayal), who turns out to be one of the most gifted chefs the world has ever seen.

It's not nearly as funny or fresh as Jon Favreau's 'CHEF' is but both movies do a good job of presenting cooking as an amazingly beautiful and intimate art form. Hallstrom's take on the subject is a little more clichéd, and reminiscent of all his other movies, but it's still a lot of fun and breathtaking (at times) to watch; it's another movie (like 'CHEF') you don't want to see if you haven't eaten recently. The performances are all decent and Mirren does kind of steal the movie, once again, as the antagonist you hate at first and then learn to love. It's definitely a feel-good movie and should definitely please it's target audience.

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I wasn't a big fan of Ebert as a critic but I have come to respect him., 27 August 2014

'LIFE ITSELF': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Biographical documentary flick centering on the life of movie critic Roger Ebert. It was directed by Steve James, who directed some of Ebert's favorite films (like 'HOOP DREAMS'). Another one of Ebert's favorite filmmakers, Martin Scorsese, was an executive producer on the movie. I wasn't a big fan of Ebert as a critic but I have come to respect him as a person (and movie lover) and think this film paints a lovely portrait of his life.

The movie goes over Roger's life from his early days as a critic, working for the Chicago Sun-Times, through his multiple decade run as a TV critic, paired with Gene Siskel, and it ends with his death due to cancer. It spends a lot of time dealing with his early alcoholism, and depression, and discussing how he overcame them. The film also focuses a large part of it's narrative on Ebert's life married to Chaz Ebert and how the two of them dealt with Roger's physical disability (that resulted from his sickness). Famous filmmakers, and critics, like Scorsese, Werner Herzog and A.O. Scott are interviewed and we also see a lot of archive footage of Siskel and Ebert (strangely Richard Roeper is never seen or mentioned). Voice actor Stephen Stanton does an amazing interpretation of Roger, while narrating most of the movie (it took me a while to figure out it wasn't actually Ebert).

I wasn't a big fan of Roger Ebert as a film critic, when he was alive, because I found him to be way too egotistical and kind of an asshole. This movie shows he definitely was those things, in reality, but he also had a big heart and a beautiful outlook on life and the movies. I still don't think he was a good critic; he disliked too many good movies and loved too many bad ones. His reasoning and explanations for why he rated movies a certain way often seemed snobbish and idiotic to me as well (I often wondered if he had actually even seen the movies he was reviewing). Still I have come to respect him, a lot more than I did when he was alive at least, and this movie is a huge part of why. It's beautifully shot, emotionally heart-wrenching and truly inspiring as well. The scenes of Siskel and Ebert arguing and constantly driving each other crazy are extremely entertaining as well. Parts of it (mostly early on) are a little too slow but it is a really well made documentary even so.

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