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The 9th Life of Louis Drax (2016)
Haunting beautiful satisfying story
Don't let the strange title put you off. I liked the story of this mystery drama romance thriller. Things come together and there are no red herrings. As layers are peeled away the truth is revealed to be very different from what the first appearances were. And the ending is satisfying too with a feel good conclusion and an good message about beauty and goodness. There is enough "magic" to make this creative but not outrageous - like in "The Age of Adaline". An accident prone child falls off a cliff and is in a coma. His father is missing. His beautiful mother is played by Sarah Gardon. A doctor (Jamie Dornan) gets involved in his care. Although you can guess the truth about 2/3 through, it's enjoyable to see things unfold. It's not always about a last minute reveal. There is an element of Hitchcock here in tone and setting - Vertigo comes to mind with the beautiful blonde with a hint of mystery and the San Francisco location. Although it seems that the aerial shots of SF and the Golden Gate bridge were mixed with not actual on location filming. Sarah Gadon is so lovely she is perfect for the role. You can believe men will throw away everything for her. She is such a good actress too and so versatile from playing QE2 to damaged goods in this year's Indignation. Jamie Dornan as the doctor who is letting his Johnson make his decisions is good at acting in lust. It's a bit similar to 50 Shades but a better story. Aaron Paul has a pivotal supporting role as the father Peter Drax. And he is good especially when things are revealed. The young boy has lots of good lines and succeeds in not being annoying as some other child actors can be.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
Meryl is perfect for this role because she isn't a good singer
I first saw the off Broadway version of the story "Souvenir" it was laugh out loud from start to finish. So I was looking forward to this movie. The movie has a lot more story about Florence and people around her and it is less of a pure comedy and more of a tragic comedy, it's such a good story it's worth the good cast and beautiful production it is given here.
Meryl Streep is well cast in this role not just that she gives Florence a sympathetic portrayal. It's because Meryl isn't a good singer (seen Mama Mia?) that makes her just right. She doesn't have to try too hard to sound bad.
Hugh Grant looks old for his age but it's a good role for him. Charming and caring. The main comic relief comes from Big Bang's wonderful Howard - Simon Hellberg. His expressions and reactions are the comic backbone of this movie.
The only fault of this movie is that it isn't as funny as it could have been because the sad elements of her life are included.
Watch this movie
This movie was mesmerizing from start to finish. The most famous sexual harassment suit in history is the subject matter of this dramatic HBO movie. The way the story exploded onto the national spotlight and got how it became a political battle is so interesting. By casting the highly sympathetic Kerry Washington as Anita Hill in the role you can tell which side the movie slants towards. She gives a clear and dignified performance even through all the salacious testimony. Jennifer Hudson is a supporting witness on her side - another sympathetic actress. Greg Kinnear as Joe Biden is aged appropriately and his various decisions as head of the investigating committee. The actor who plays Clarence Thomas, Wendell Pierce is a bit too passive until his testimony before the committee. Mamie Gummer looks quite different with darker hair and plays an aide to Ted Kennedy played by Treat Williams.
All the Way (2016)
Bryan Cranston looks so much like LBJ - wish there was more ground covered
A remarkable performance by Bryan Cranston who looks a lot like LBJ here with the prosthetic nose. One of the best biopic physical transformations. Besides the physical side, the impassioned acting and the accent are just so convincing, you wish there was more of his life shown eg a miniseries. There have been other films like 'Path to War' about LBJ's role in the Vietnam War. This movie is mainly about the passing of the Civil Rights Bill and his election victory. I saw the play on Broadway and this movie does expand on it by showing glimpses of the assassination, Mississippi murders and touching on Gulf of Tonkin. A lot of characters are shown - it's a bit hard to keep track of, from segregationists politicians to the aides and civil rights activists. Melissa Leo has a pretty good physical likeness to Lady Bird. Anthony Mackie on the other hand is too slim looking to play Martin Luther King. Of all the actors they could have chosen. Worst physical likeness on screen of MLK ever.
This is worth watching. Just wish there was more ground covered. Look at the other people who have played LBJ like Michael Gambon and you will see how good Bryan Cranston is. Hoping there will be a sequel.
In-cheon sang-ryuk jak-jeon (2016)
Entertaining and over the top
Entertaining and exaggerated and exciting. This Korean made movie about the Incheon invasion during the Korean war is quite grandly made and the production values are okay considering they are not dealing with a Spielberg budget. You get all sorts of war action from espionage to tanks machine gun fights truck chase to water landing. It's not Inglorious Basterds over the top but still they could have reduced down the body count by half. Picturesque sets if a bit cinematic looking.
I was worried I wouldn't be able to tell the communists from the non since they are all Korean and the good guys are undercover but surprisingly it was okay. You can tell by what they are doing who is on which side. The story launches right into action without establishing the characters first - that comes later.
Some glaring incongruities. The young Korean ladies especially the leading lady, have that K pop plastic surgery look that looks out of place in the 1950s. Also the glamorous well outfitted communists recall the impeccably dressed Nazis in Hollywood movies.
Some of the editing produces unintentionally funny moments like when the invasion starts and the bad guy seem to take a long time to realize it.
Liam Neeson as Douglas MacArthur appears quite regularly in this movie and has some very bad dialog full of platitudes and affirmations. He reminds of a wax dummy talking in a museum. The Korean actors don't overact.
A good point is it mostly avoids that overdone bodies flying slowly in the air and dragged out death speeches that afflict Hong Kong and Chinese movies. That is until the end with a terrible confrontation between the bad guy and the hero that cheapens things.
Worth a watch.
Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)
Exotic locations beautiful women and lots of action
As an action movie this doesn't disappoint. You get everything you want from this kind of movie - invincible hero and lots of action. Liked the way he planned and executed the hits. Really stunning filming in the exotic locations from Rio to a idyllic island in Thailand to Sydney to the Black Sea city of Bulgaria.
Jason Statham is approaching 50 but he can still look convincing in his action sequences. Jessica Alba is still smashing in a bikini. High caliber supporting cast from the always serene Michelle Yeoh who is quite lovely as an old friend who runs a hotel in Thailand. Tommy Lee Jones is here too.
The story is okay not convoluted or pretentious. Not all of it makes that much sense but who cares - the gist is good enough for an action movie.
Bond has been so dull lately with dour looking women and drab locations. This is action for guys who like action movies.
Paper Angels (2014)
Good message and good actors - not the usual trite Christmas movie
This is a more serious Christmas movie with good actors. The two intertwining stories are realistic and interesting. Matthew Settle of Gossip Girl plays a financially struggling business owner with twins on the way. Josie Bissett plays an abused wife who takes her kids to settle down in the same town where they face money troubles. She is quite good in less glamorous roles than usual. Her son faces some bullying. Liked the way he overcame his troubles. The stories intertwine cleverly. The message isn't too preachy it's about charity - the Paper Angels in the title.
A change from the more trite romantic Christmas movies out there. This one has a message and a watchable cast.
Wuthering High (2015)
Bad casting - don't bother
A modern day adaptation of Wuthering Heights could have been good. But the movie is so badly cast and badly written. The lead actress who plays Cathy Paloma is isn't broody she is just off putting. And no way she looks like a rich kid she is playing. Errol Flynn's grandson Sean Flynn plays her stoner brother. Heathcliff is now Heath the son of a Mexican illegal immigrant. Zero chemistry. Francesca Eastwood is pretty but a bit too old looking to be in high school. James Caan shouldn't have been in this movie. The acting is generally wooden and amateurish especially the rich guy who like Cathy. Bad message for teenagers - brats without a cause.
Please don't watch this dud. It's not worth the time.
Better than VOD release would suggest
This comedy is quite fun to watch with a middle aged professor and his two lovely love interests who are considerably younger. There are some astute observations about differences between the US and the UK. The contrast between English students and American students is funny. Liked the twist where the one facing deportation is a white guy and the Hispanics are legal. The commentary about excessive drinking in the British culture is right on. The villa is quite idyllic.
Pierce Brosnan is well preserved so things don't look icky. He didn't let himself go like some other actors his age. Still looks better than Daniel Craig. Salma Hayek is lovely and should be on screen more. Jessica Alba is pretty and makes her annoying character appealing. Supporting cast Ben McKenzie is not quite right. Malcolm McDowell is a bit young to be Pierce's father.
It's worth one watch.
Pregnant at 17 (2016)
What a fairy tale! Surprisingly watchable if unbelievable
The story is totally unbelievable. Yet it's told in a way that makes it watchable. Josie Bisset is beautiful as a wife who lost a baby. Her husband has been having an affair and impregnates a girl who is 17. He won't man up. It's all quite believable till then Josie befriends the girl and starts to look after her! At the same time the 17 year old has some wacko she identified at a crime come after her. things lead to an impossibly happy ending. So this is a bit of a combo movie mild thriller with lifetime adultery drama.
Are there women who forgive their husband's mistresses and befriend them? Anyway I though it was a pretty good watch considering the total fairy tale it was.