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Liam Neeson stars as troubled air marshal Bill Marks, who is enroute to London. He starts receiving text messages saying someone on board will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150M is sent to a secret bank account. And then people start dying.
In this movie, every character, except for Bill, is set up as a likely suspect; they all look very shifty and fully capable of murder. It's fun to watch everyone look guilty and my mind was racing to figure out the culprit (I couldn't.). Neeson is outstanding as the air marshal, running the gamut of emotions from grief to confusion to terror; he's instantly sympathetic and likable. Julianne Moore is good as Bill's seat mate and it's great to see Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey") as a flight attendant.
From the opening moments, I felt uneasy; that quickly turned to paranoia and then fear. The story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I really enjoyed the mystery of it. Recommended.
This should have been a thrillingly romantic, sweetly funny movie that touched on loneliness and following one's heart to find real love. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an unfocused, unfunny, and decidedly unromantic story that is very unsatisfying.
Keri Russell looks like the perfect in-love-with-love Austen fan, but Jennifer Coolidge is coarse and annoying playing her usual dumb blonde. There were two men who could have fulfilled Keri's fantasies, but both of their parts were poorly written. Neither man was heroic enough to match Keri's idealized Mr. Darcy.
The whole set-up of the "amusement park," Austenland, was poorly realized and the rules for guests were confusing. Jane Seymour was unappealing as the Austenland owner; she should have been funny, but she wasn't.
I'm glad the book is better than the movie. But then, it would have to be.
Lo imposible (2012)
Frightening true story
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as parents who take their three sons to Thailand on vacation where they become victims of the deadly tsunami of 2004.
Every minute of this true story is gut-wrenching, from the incredibly realistic recreation of the tsunami to the mass death and devastation afterward. Watts and McGregor are excellent as the suffering and selfless parents and Tom Holland gives a wonderful performance as their brave young son.
I saw videos of the disaster, but putting a personal, family face on the horror makes it all the more real and heartbreaking. Filmed on location in Thailand, the movie is intense and very moving. Highly recommended.
Captain Phillips (2013)
Thrilling and unforgettable
Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) was taking his American cargo ship on a routine voyage off the coast of Africa, when a small band of armed Somali pirates boarded the ship. While most of the crew stayed hidden, the pirates took Captain Phillips hostage in a lifeboat.
This movie, based on a true story, is extremely intense and exciting, so frightening, I don't think I could have watched it on the big screen, but on DVD, it was riveting and enlightening. There isn't any real violence until the very end, but the drama is kept at a unbearable level by the non-stop yelling of the pirates. Their leader is played by Barkhad Abdi in his first acting role. He is outstanding and deserves his nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Tom Hanks delivers a powerful performance, remaining calm and providing a balance to the pirates' hysteria.
The script manages to elicit sympathy for the pirates because of their miserable lives; they live in abject poverty, forced to hijack ships by their warlords or die. The movie is excellent and highly recommended.
Rock of Ages (2012)
The main plot is about a boy and girl from small towns who meet in at a rock club. The subplot involves an aging rocker (Tom Cruise) who is appearing at the club.
What a terrible movie this is. I was embarrassed for Tom Cruise who is never believable as the stoned, groupie-lovin' rock star, Stacey Jaxx. Oh my, the tattoos, the (un)sexy wardrobe, the mumbling, the singing...it was all too much.
And what can I say about Alec Baldwin who wears a Garth Algar wig and plays the club manager. He must have been paid a ton of money to do this movie - it looked like an SNL sketch.
Paul Giamatti is the only one who actually acts convincingly and his part is small.
Oh, it's a rock opera. Awful.
The Big Wedding (2013)
Robert DeNiro is divorced from Diane Keaton and living with Susan Sarandon. Robert and Diane's adopted son is about to be married and they have to pretend they're still married so as not to offend the son's conservative mother. Their daughter is leaving her husband and their other son is embarrassed to still be a virgin.
A far-fetched plot and a motley collection of completely immoral losers make for a disgusting movie. There are a lot of big names in it, none of whom should be proud of their work. The script is full of profanity.This is altogether without redeeming qualities and recommended only for those with junior high leanings.
The Details (2011)
Good premise, bad ending
Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) seems to have it all, a great career, beautiful family...and then it starts to fall apart: Raccoons tear up his new lawn. This drives him crazy and is just the first of many bad things that happen, all leading up to coldblooded murder.
This is a dark comedy with many funny and silly moments and just as many bizarre and absurd ones. Maguire is good as the Everyman character, but I thought Elizabeth Banks, who plays his wife, was too teenage-Barbie doll-ish. Dennis Haysbert is Jeff's loyal best friend and Laura Linney steals the show as his pathetic, loony neighbor.
There are lots of twists and turns and it was fun to watch until the end, which just stops, like the director ran out of time and told everyone to go home. The non-ending almost spoils a good movie and left me unsatisfied.
Broken Flowers (2005)
Murray deadpans it
A man receives an anonymous letter informing him he is the father of a 19-year old son, so he sets off on a journey to visit his old girlfriends to see which one wrote the letter.
Bill Murray stars in this movie which is, at times, funny, pathetic, and shocking but mostly just boring. His character is an unappealing, solitary man who shows no interest or emotion; Murray pretty much phones in his performance, so underplaying his role that I wondered why he bothered at all. It's an intriguing premise that goes absolutely nowhere and the ending feels like the writer just ran out of ideas and stopped writing.
For Bill Murray fans only.
You can't feel sorry for yourself after seeing this movie
Christy Brown was born in Dublin to a very large, poor family. He had severe cerebral palsy and could only control his left foot. Without formal schooling, he became an acclaimed painter, writer, and poet.
This movie is absolutely wonderful. I'd put off watching it because I expected it be maudlin and manipulative, but it's not; it's earthy and defiant and hopeful, just like Christy. Daniel Day-Lewis earned the Best Actor Oscar for his stunning performance which manages to convey his horrible frustration and longings without being overly-sentimental. He's really outstanding. Brenda Fricker won Best Supporting Actress; she's immediately likable and admirable. The entire cast is perfect and the story is truly inspiring.
All Is Lost (2013)
A man wakes up to find his tiny yacht sinking in the middle of the Indian Ocean. He's alone, but with experience and resourcefulness he saves the boat (until the next disaster strikes). Again and again, he uses every bit of knowledge he has to pump, patch, fix, and dry out. And that works...for a while.
This outstanding survival movie has just one character, Our Man, played by Robert Redford. He utters only a handful of words, there is no sentimental subplot or corny flashbacks to pluck at our heartstrings. Our Man is stoic and smart, and though the repair-the-boat scenes border on documentary-style, it's all riveting, and I gasped and sighed aloud often. We hear very little music but a lot of the relentless, all-powerful water and wind.
Going in, I thought this was a true story and was disappointed to learn it wasn't. It's intense and exciting and Redford is perfect in it. Highly recommended, especially for anyone who is considering going boating on the open sea.