Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Playing for Keeps (2012)
Entertaining but doesn't really work in any genre
I found this movie entertaining, and I particularly liked George, especially when he was with his son. I also liked Iqbal Theba as the wacko landlord who was suspicious of George and wanted his rent.
While I didn't care that much for the naughty humor of Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones, or the quirky character played by Judy Greer, they were fun.
This movie didn't really work as a romantic comedy because there was no couple to root for, or as a family comedy because it was too naughty. But Jessica Biel did a good job, even if she never made me like her, wasn't pretty, and if I never found myself wanting her and George to get together. The potential for a Stacie-George relationship never even occurred to me until late in the movie.
Still, I enjoyed it. Sort of.
Red Line (2013)
Exciting thriller with moral dilemmas
Tori is on the phone with her father and they are not getting along. So she is pretty upset already when she gets on the subway. At some point we learn about others who are getting on the subway too, or at least we think we do. Some of these people might not be telling the truth. But here is what we think we know. Adam proposes to Rubina and is giving her a ring, but they are Muslim and a ring is not a part of their tradition. Boyd is an actor. Mason is a veteran of Iraq. Al is an engineering student of Brazilian heritage. Sam is a history teacher who is married to Kathy. Yolanda is a medical professional of some kind who can't speak much English. And Jared and Kristine have a young daughter Dillon.
Something terrible happens and people die. At first I thought there was a shooter but it later becomes clear there must have been an explosion. Apparently the train car is on its side and there's no easy way out. There is no one in charge and these ordinary people have to find the solutions to their problems. Some are hurt enough that they might die. Tori calms down and copes quite well. Jared thinks Kristine (who stays remarkably calm considering everything) is worse off than Adam and insists Kristine be helped first. Whatever is wrong with Kristine, something is always blurry. I saw this happen in another movie where someone was so seriously injured she died. The important thing is Kristine is trapped. So is Sam, but he isn't hurt, as long as he can be freed. Kathy is dead and so is a police officer.
Eventually, everyone who is able to help can get involved. Yolanda, as the only one who seems to have medical training, does what she can, and Kristine can translate for her, but help is needed from outside and the group needs a way to escape. So there is a lot of work to do, and risks must be taken.
And then someone discovers a second bomb. Worse yet, what if one of the group set off the first bomb and is ready to kill more people? What if the terrorist actually intends to commit suicide and does not have a way out? The group must deal with many moral dilemmas. Should they figure out who did the deed and keep that person from killing again? How much should they do to this person? And what if more than one of them might be involved?
This movie keeps things exciting and I was on the edge of my seat a lot. The acting performances are good, particularly that of the person playing the terrorist. The excitement of solving the mystery and the urgency of preventing more deaths make this quite entertaining. And of course there are the moral dilemmas. Even young Dillon does something quite surprising.
I think it's worth seeing.
The Stepfather (2009)
Entertaining thriller, mainly toward end
The opening of this movie has a disturbing contrast. Nice Christmas decorations and a beautiful version of "Silent Night" sung by what may be a boys' choir, and dead bodies lying beside the decorations. The man who apparently committed the murders is on his way to terrorize another family.
Susan and "David" meet at the grocery store and are immediately attracted to each other. Soon, Michael comes home from military school where he was sent because he caused trouble, along with his intelligent and gorgeous girlfriend Kelly. He is not happy with the new addition to the family. Neither is his father Jay.
Over time, David tries to develop a relationship with Michael, but it is hard. Meanwhile, Susan's sister Jackie gives David a job without bothering to do a background check. David has no past, however, and he keeps making excuses. People start finding out his stories are lies. And whenever anyone points out his suspicious behavior, or his resemblance to a killer who has not been found ... well, you just don't want to be around David when he's alone and you have provoked him.
A nosy neighbor dies suspiciously, and Jay also mysteriously disappears. Michael and Kelly investigate, and Kelly takes advantage of every opportunity to show how good she looks in a bikini or underwear. Still, she does have brains too.
The movie starts out pleasant enough, almost family-friendly. But it soon gets quite exciting.
The final action scene is quite entertaining, and based on something I read in user reviews, could have been even more so without the deletion of a particularly well-done stunt.
As a thriller this could have been better. Everything seems almost normal, which is fine. I like normal. But if this was actually a feature film, it doesn't seem like one. It seems like a Lifetime woman-in-jep movie. I like those, so I was reasonably happy.
Dylan Walsh gives a good enough performance, but by the end he is going beyond the ordinary.
Sela Ward is a respected actress and she does just fine here, but there isn't anything particularly distinctive. She does look good, despite her ex's comments about why he was attracted to other women.
Amber Heard gives a good performance, but I think that's mainly because she doesn't mind showing off her body and shows confidence when she does.
Penn Badgley does a capable job too.
It was entertaining enough. Just don't expect too much.
Good for Nothing (2011)
Worth seeing, sometimes funny, not your ordinary Western
Isabella and Miss Parsons (am I remembering that right? There's no name even similar to that in the cast list) are two proper English ladies traveling through the American West on a train with a great-looking and great-sounding steam engine. Although the older woman points out this is no place for a lady, when the train arrives at Isabella's destination in the middle of nowhere, she assures Isabella that the men who came to pick her up are her uncle's best employees. Isabella's father just died, and she lost her mother long ago, so her uncle's ranch is the only place for her to go.
But she doesn't make it there. The men take her to a bar, where a villain shoots them and takes her captive, while the others in the bar just sit there like nothing happened. The villain tries to rape Isabella but then mysteriously stops and just ties her up. He goes into town and what happens next is very funny. And then Isabella gets loose, and with her clothes in tatters, people in town think she is a hooker. She goes to the jail and the prisoner in the cell is hilarious. I only wish we had seen more of him. But then the villain takes Isabella again, shooting those who stand in his way as usual.
Harry's brother puts together a posse. Some of the men don't think it is worth the money to risk their lives, so there is a bonus for killing the hooker.
The villain still has a problem to solve, so as he was advised to do, he visits a Chinese mining camp. With hilarious results. Meanwhile, Isabella is starting to have feelings other than hate for the man, and the man is nicer to Isabella. Eventually, they have a meaningful conversation about their pasts. And they visit an Indian medicine man--again, with funny results. The posse isn't having much luck because the tracker is incompetent.
The ending is satisfying but quite unexpected. It is, in fact, the very definition of ironic. But there is a complete story.
I wasn't expecting this to be so funny, but the TiVo listings did show it as a comedy first. Actually, this isn't that funny a lot of the time, and it is somewhat violent (though not unusually so for a Western) and unsettling. To enjoy it, you have to be willing to tolerate a sick sense of humor. Also, the sound went out a lot and characters' mouths were covered in many cases when this happened.
Cohen Holloway as the unnamed villain does quite a good job. He isn't merely the monster he appears to be at the start, but someone who has feelings. Just because he shoots everyone in sight doesn't mean he can't be redeemed.
Isabella is quite pretty and, despite her shock at how different the American West is after apparently having a privileged life, she is tough and determined. And even caring, despite how mean her kidnapper has been.
And I don't know his name, but the actor playing the prisoner is hilarious.
Other good performances come from actors playing Indians and Chinese.
And let's not forget how pretty the American West can be. Even if it's actually New Zealand. And the music is great--Latin guitar, regular guitar (not smooth jazz exactly, but close), and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
It's an unusual Western to be sure, and worth seeing.
The Odds (2011)
Pretty good mystery
Desson and Barry are best friends who intend to move in together after they graduate from high school. Knowing he will be alone after Desson's mother has apparently died, Desson's loser of a father is planning to sell their house.
Desson and Barry attend a high school wrestling match. Barry is constantly texting Paul on his cell phone. When Barry believes Sam took a dive, Barry confronts Sam in the locker room and they get in a fight. Desson convinces the coach that Barry and Sam were fighting over a girl, but the coach sentences both Desson and Barry to detention. Barry doesn't show, but Desson meets the beautiful Colleen, who he invites to Paul's basement in a nice upper-middle-class house. Young people come there and gamble and drink alcohol secretly. Paul's mother doesn't really seem to approve but allows the activity as long as she doesn't get in trouble; Paul's father has left. Barry and Desson both owe Paul lots of money, and Paul is getting very demanding.
One day Desson goes over to Barry's house, and Desson and Barry's sister Heather make a terrible discovery. Barry has apparently hanged himself. Desson believes his friend was murdered and is determined to find out why. A phone message suggests a local Chinese restaurant may have a connection to Desson's death. Benson, one of the high school students who gambles at Paul's place, reluctantly admits to going to this restaurant but says it must be kept secret. It is also possible that Paul is in debt to someone there. And we may find out what Sam was doing.
It's a somewhat interesting mystery. Nothing outstanding or above the level of a TV-movie, but still enjoyable.
There is occasional humor, much of it provided by Hrothgar Mathews as the sarcastic Coach Fortier.
And among actors with more lines than the coach had, to me, Julia Maxwell stands out from the rest of the cast. She's not only great looking but has a nice if edgy personality and brains.
Tyler Johnston is pretty good too in the lead role.
Other worthwhile performances come from Jaren Brandt Bartlett as the young man who lets people gamble, Robert Moloney as Desson's father (especially when stoned), and Scott Patey and the somewhat nerdy Benson who likes to take risks.
The sound went out a lot during this movie. Usually, this was accompanied by a character's mouth being obscured. So if you see this unedited, you have been warned. There is also some violence but not too much.
It's a worthwhile effort, just nothing you haven't seen before.
Educates about code talkers, but not really about them; pretty good otherwise
I had heard about the Code Talkers and understood their efforts were important to winning World War II. I found the idea of watching a movie about their efforts interesting.
I didn't really understand how Nicolas Cage getting in a jam in the Solomon Islands and acting heroically contributed to that, but I kept watching. Eventually, I made the connection. His flawed and damaged character was being put in charge of keeping a Code Talker safe.
I hadn't considered the possibility of a Code Talker being put in a combat situation, and yet this movie made clear how vital their efforts were even on the battlefield. We also got to see how risky it was to be a Code Talker in this situation, since the Japanese somehow knew about these people and would find them valuable. Yes, the possibility of the code being revealed to the enemy has a tragic consequence. Many hard decisions were made here.
Although I wasn't really prepared for battle and didn't like the violence that went with it, combat scenes were effectively done. Nicolas Cage, of course, is a Rambo or Schwarznegger which is good for movie audiences if not necessarily realistic.
The relationships that develop between fighting men made the movie interesting.
Adam Beach did a fine job and was quite likable. Whether he looked like an Indian or not, and whether he really looked Japanese (which became important in one scene), didn't matter to me. I went with my neighbors to the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina a few years ago and the campaign billboards, during a race for chief, showed a man who could have passed for white. Actually, Beach looked more like the other type of Indian. But the important thing was his character's pride in his heritage, and the scenes that showed his culture, particularly with his friend Charlie Whitehorse.
The scenery in the American West is great. And the areas where combat took place also are nice to look at.
I was impressed that one of the military bases somehow got a 50-star flag more than 15 years before there were actually 50 states. I wonder when that flag was developed? Still, a regular 48-star flag would have been better for consistency.
If the objective was to tell people this film was about Code Talkers and to focus on a flawed but heroic white marine and show the Code Talkers' battlefield actions as a supplement to the main plot, then I believe the goal was achieved.
Father of Invention (2010)
Pretty good, not great
As the charismatic inventor who appears on TV, Kevin Spacey does quite a good job. He's done this type role before, but Bernadette Peters was there to overshadow him. Here, that's not a problem. Later, I can't say Spacey is that good, considering what he has accomplished, but he has his moments. The best one comes when he realizes he needs to fix his relationship with his daughter.
Heather Graham doesn't start out well. She is nothing more than a nasty lesbian who keeps pointing out that she's a lesbian. Later, she proves to be much more and is even likable. And not a lesbian. Bi, maybe. While I liked her two roommates better at first, by movie's end Phoebe is the best character.
I'm not sure what to say about Johnny Knoxville. The store manager resembles Ty Burrell and, maybe just for that reason, I think Burrell could have played the role. And better. Perhaps he wasn't available. His bumbling Phil Dunphy had similarities to this character that make me think it could have worked. Still, there were times I found the man entertaining.
I liked Claire okay, but she quickly grew impatient with her father, and I guess with good reason. She wasn't as easy to like later, and I'm not even sure how good a job the actress did. One thing stands out about her and that's her great smile at the bank.
I also liked Donna, but she really gave me a reason to like her. At least at the beginning. I'm not sure she had much in the brains department, but she is a sweet girl.
Red West was memorable as Axle's engineer. While he was old and getting senile he knew what he was doing, mostly. It is a great scene where Axle realizes this man he is depending on isn't quite what he used to be.
John Stamos is ideal for the role of a constantly smiling but superficial pitch man. You want to like him because of how he appears on the surface and can't stand him when you see what he's really like. He's just not around much.
Michael Rosenbaum is kind of a disappointment. He makes the most of a small role but he used to be so much like Axle. Genuinely evil with lots of money, though, instead of just someone who messed up.
Craig Robinson is easy to like as the new man in Axle's ex-wife's life.
And about the ex--she is nasty and I can't stand her. And yet Virginia Madsen played such a wonderful character when I saw her the same weekend in "Sideways". She proved what a range she has. Be sure and stay around for her atrocious duet with her husband in the closing credits.
Other than the hideously bad closing credits, the music is good most of the time.
It was a mostly enjoyable movie. I wanted to see Axle succeed. But it's not easy.
Elfie Hopkins (2012)
Dark humor turns into horror
In a village in England where people hunt, Elfie is not doing much with her life and she has this "whatEVER" attitude toward everything. Her father and stepmother want her to do more than just smoke pot with her friend Dylan, and she is almost resigned to the idea she will be a beautician, though that's not she wants. Elfie's mother died in a hunting-related accident when she was 12, but to this day she is convinced it was murder, and she blames herself because her mother was searching for her. After investigating what happened to her mother, Elfie became an amateur sleuth. Elfie wears too much makeup and has blonde hair that can't possibly be a real color, and how much of it is green varies between scenes and sometimes within the same scene. One person who dresses fashionably says Elfie looks like someone vomited clothes onto her. Her taste in "music" isn't much better.
Her latest case with Dylan involves the Gammons, new neighbors who live in a fabulous house. Everywhere they go, people disappear. At the beginning of this movie, a hunter mysteriously disappears. The Gammons got rich from their travel agency--only it seems people they send on trips don't come back.
Still, Elfie becomes friendly (in a completely innocent way) with the father Charlie, who is faithful to his wife even though Pippa wants to seduce him. Elfie taunts Pippa by suggesting Charlie prefers her. Dylan makes friends with the creepy daughter Ruby, to the dismay of Elfie, who won't admit she has anything more than platonic feelings for this geek (her word). Ruby is described as dressing like dolls. In one scene I would say more like a cast member from the musical "Chicago".
As is often the case with movies like this, Elfie gets on the nerves of the local police. She accuses people of things they may be innocent of, because of evidence that isn't there when the cops arrive.
The title of this movie kind of gives away a secret that Elfie finds or at least thinks she has found. Meanwhile, Elfie worries her friend will go off and leave her because his parents want him to go to university, though he doesn't.
If you like the dark humor of the Seth MacFarlane animated sitcoms, perhaps you will like this. It was described as a horror movie in the TV listings I saw, but it's not really a horror movie. More of a creepy comedy/mystery. Toward the end it does become quite violent and the laughs stop. Not everyone is going to survive to the end, and as is often true with horror movies, even someone you care about is not safe.
Despite her attitude, I had to like Elfie. I know nothing about Jamie Winstone but there's something adorable about her, despite her hate for the world and lack of concern for her looks, though somehow she looks sort of pretty.
Aneurin Barnard I have never heard of, but Dylan was very likable. I did find one thing strange: Dylan is a computer genius but this movie was made in 2012. If it was set at that time, why is Dylan using 1992 computer technology? He uses what is essentially the Internet but gets there the way geeks did when people in general started using PCs.
Rupert Evans as the mysterious neighbor shows quite a range, going from friendly to downright creepy in a humorous way.
Ray Winstone is memorable as a butcher who is also a creepy storyteller.
Either one actress is either really good at pretending to be still or someone really talented recreated her head. You might either love the scene for its humor or be totally repulsed by it.
Is it good? Well, I did enjoy it as long as it was funny. The ending is effective if not pleasant.
Wonderful job, mostly
This is a wonderful and inspiring story about a family with flaws and two new members welcomed into that family.
And of course it is the story of a Latina girl who has the chance to stand out among many equally qualified candidates for Princeton. Aimee Garcia does quite nicely narrating.
Tea Leoni as Deborah is pretty but comes across as shallow, really trying to be nice but constantly messing up. It's a fine performance. One of the best scenes has her enthusiastically welcoming Cristina, the beautiful daughter she didn't know Flor had, because now she can have a perfect daughter too. Her own daughter is not physically attractive and is overweight but not unhealthy, and can never seem to please her. And yes, Bernice notices this.
Paz Vega reminds me of Salma Hayek, at least in appearance. But both are quality actresses too. Flor is so pleasant and loving but she can get upset when the situation calls for it. And of course once the time comes, she is determined to learn English.
Shelbie Bruce does a wonderful job. Her best scene is one where she must translate for her mother, but she does more than merely say the words. She effectively communicates her mother's emotions as well. It's like a scene from "Freaky Friday". And she has another standout moment where John is only kidding but she really seems upset about what he said.
Sarah Steele is also likable as the not so perfect Bernice. There's nothing so wrong with her. She's just an ordinary girl, like most girls.
Cloris Leachman does her usual wonderful job, especially later in the movie. She mostly just has funny lines which add a lot, but as Deborah's mother advising her daughter who is falling apart, she really stands out.
Adam Sandler is the weak link here. That only means everyone in a major role is good, and he is just the least talented among them. He does a great job playing Adam Sandler, the one who is not a loser and is mostly nice. John is quite a likable character. And yet there's nothing really special. John has lessons to learn here but he's less flawed than his wife. And of course he has a difficult choice when he must decide career or family, and his family means everything.
I did think Georgie wasn't used enough. That may be the only real weakness here.
The ending leaves us wondering. That's all I will say.
Is it a family-friendly film? Not quite, but older children should be fine with it. Even younger children might be able to handle the version I saw, which may have been cleaned up for TV.
Regardless, it is a worthy effort.
Caught Inside (2010)
Not my taste but better toward end
In Australia, a group of young people meet at an airport and head to a boat called Hedonist. Some want to surf and others want to fish. One of the guys makes a comment that there weren't supposed to be any girls, but Alex came with her boyfriend (he wouldn't leave her behind) and Alex brought Sam.
For a while everyone has a good time. There are several visits to islands and some good waves for surfing. Alex has a video camera, and Sam looks good in a bikini. Sam does seem intelligent, however, as she knows what to do when someone needs first aid, and she is referred to as "computer girl". I don't recall why.
The trouble begins when two of the guys are interested in Sam. Eventually, as a result of escalating animosity, the one guy actually goes ballistic and the rest of the group may be in danger.
There's not much here for me. With the accents and so many cases where the sound went out while the speaker's mouth was blurred or covered, I couldn't figure out what was going on a lot of the time. The ocean scenery is pretty. Sam gets to "swim" with dolphins although she is hanging on to the anchor and not really in the water. I mentioned Sam looks good, and she has a nice smile and nice personality, at least until the incident. At one point there is a pretty rainbow which is kind of low in the sky.
Still, the performance of a certain actor is worth seeing. I don't know his name anyway, but I think it's better to keep everyone guessing about who goes crazy. He's really quite good, for the material, and even funny in a dark way. It's a pretty good thriller once things get out of hand about halfway through.
Normally, we are assured no animals are harmed. I wondered how such a thing would be possible when numerous fish are being processed after catching early in the movie, and fishing and eating fish are part of the adventure. We are shown the message where the assurances about animal action normally go: "Fish were harmed and eaten." Good. I don't see how it could have been done any other way.
If you enjoy seeing guys have a good time and occasionally argue and then get into fights, maybe this is for you. It wasn't really for me.