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so much stories, 21 July 2016

It's the story of gangster Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) from 1959 to becoming known as Pubic Enemy #1 in 1972. In 1959, he's a French soldier forced to kill a prisoner. Upon his return, he and his friend Paul start robbing and working for gangster Guido (Gérard Depardieu). He marries Sofia (Elena Anaya) and have a family. He gets imprisoned. He's struggling with his marriage. He finds a fellow criminal soul in Jeanne Schneider (Cécile De France). They rob a mob casino and leave for Montreal. In 1968, he befriends FLQ member Jean-Paul Mercier (Roy Dupuis). Mesrine and Schneider are arrested in Arizona and extradited back to Quebec as the new Bonnie and Clyde. In prison, Mesrine, Mercier, and others make an escape and go on a crime rampage.

This semi-biopic has so much material to go through. It's an epic that deserves six seasons of big-time violent brutal crime TV drama. This two hour movie feels compressed into a highlight reel of the his gleeful descend. Vincent Cassel is terrific. He's able to maintain the focus with the rotating cast of characters. It needs focus in terms of story but it's a very compelling character.

three great performances, 21 July 2016

Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston) is working for mobster Bobo Justus (Pat Hingle) placing bets in horse races. Her estranged son Roy Dillon (John Cusack) does small cons. His girlfriend Myra Langtry (Annette Bening) uses sex. Roy gets caught and gets hit. Lilly takes him to the hospital and misses a job. Bobo punishes her. Myra wants Roy to invest in her scheme. It's the life of grift.

These are three individual performances that are all powerful in their own way. Huston is simply incredible. She is so many different notes. Bening is using sex like pulling out her credit card. Cusack has his boyish charms but he's also so broken. These three characters are memorable.

Next (2007)
intriguing idea with little problems and wtf ending, 20 July 2016

Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) is cheesy Vegas magician Frank Cadillac. In his spare time, he wins small amounts at the casinos. He does this by seeing into the future by about two minutes. FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) is tracking him hoping to use his skills for the government especially with a stolen Russian nuke on the loose in L.A. Cris uses his power to woo stranger Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel) who has a special connection and affect on him.

The idea is intriguing and the movie does it well at times. It works to some extend until it does one of the worst cheating ending ever. There are problems even before the ending. It's the little things like Nick Cage's stringy long hair. It would be great to have an opening exposition of Cris' powers during his childhood. His 36 consecutive hours story is a good one to do. Jessica Biel is hot but him sleeping with her so quickly cheapens their connection. It's got good and bad until the ending. The end is simply a cheat.

Mansfield Park (2007) (TV)
Billie Piper wrong, 20 July 2016

Fanny Price (Billie Piper) was sent to live with her aunts in Mansfield Park at the age of 10. Her aunt Mrs. Norris gets tired of her. Her other aunt Lady Bertram and her wealthy husband Sir Thomas Bertram have four children, Tom (James D'Arcy), Edmund (Blake Ritson), Maria (Michelle Ryan), and Julia (Catherine Steadman). All of them treat Fanny as inferior except Edmund. She falls in love with his kindness. Sir Thomas has to attend to business in the West Indies. Tom returns as a degenerate gambler. Edmund is left as the head of the family. Maria is engaged and plans to marry after her father's return. The family is turned upside down with the arrival of their neighbors siblings Mary (Hayley Atwell) and Henry Crawford (Joseph Beattie).

Billie Piper is a very modern personality and doesn't fit the Fanny character. She's itching to break out of her restrained role. The production is strictly TV level. This is a problematic presentation of a classic. These are solid actors but they are wasted. It's been done much better and there is no need for this.

great actors, 20 July 2016

Lenny Drake (Joseph Fiennes), Brodie (Liam Cunningham), Viv Batista (Seu Jorge), James Lacey (Dominic Cooper), and Frank Perry (Brian Cox) are escaping from prison. The movie also keeps switching back to flashbacks. Lacey is a new prisoner as Perry's cellmate. Perry is a lifer and desperate to visit his dying estranged daughter. He recruits a group of prisoners on his escape plan. Rizza (Damian Lewis) is the ruthless leader of a prison gang. His brother Tony causes trouble for the escape group.

New director Rupert Wyatt has an amazing cast of actors captained by the great Brian Cox. These are terrific actors doing solid work. The production is a little unreal. The Kilmainham Gaol prison looks ancient which makes a modern prison movie feel artificial. The two timeline tracks take some of the intensity away but it does create a poetic ending. The ending is not completely unexpected. It is well done for the most part.

Red Sun (1971)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
the samurai and the bandit, 20 July 2016

In 1870, Japanese Ambassador Sakaguchi is traveling through the American west on a train. Link Stuart (Charles Bronson) gets on the train. He's a part of a large gang attacking the troops on board from the outside and the inside. He's double-crossed by his partner Gotch 'Gauche' Kink who takes the gold and a sword from the emperor intended as a gift for the president. Samurai Kuroda Jubie (Toshirô Mifune) joins with Link to hunt down Gauche. The Ambassador gives them seven days before both him and the samurai are honor-bound to commit harakiri. Link needs Gauche alive to find the hidden loot. They kidnap Gauche's whore Cristina (Ursula Andress).

The samurai and the bandit idea is a solid setup. Charles Bronson and Toshirô Mifune are a good odd couple. It does get a little muddled trying to do too much in the third act. Link and the Samurai should face the Indians by themselves and then they should face Gauche's gang in the climax. Overall, this is a good spaghetti western. A samurai in the old west is a great idea.

P.S. (2004)
a little less than OK, 20 July 2016

Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) is an admission officer at Columbia University School of the Arts. She takes an interest in applicant F. Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace). He reminds her of a teen love and she immediately has an affair with him. Her sister Missy Goldberg (Marcia Gay Harden) had actually stolen the lost love who died in a car crash as Missy's boyfriend. Louise's ex-husband Peter Harrington (Gabriel Byrne) shocks her with his sex addiction revelation. He had cheated on her with men and women during their last three years of sexless marriage. Her recovering drug addict brother Sammy Silverstein (Paul Rudd) helped him with recovery and even a new young girlfriend. Her mother Ellie Silverstein (Lois Smith) dismisses her. She starts to wonder if F. Scott is an incarnation of her dead one-true-love.

Dylan Kidd's previous film is Roger Dodger. I like that one a little and this one a little less than that. Laura Linney has great sadness. The weird family characters go a little far into broad dysfunction. I don't like Topher Grace in this role. He's not mysterious enough. It would be great if he turns into fully evil. It would great if his character is something more. This is a good opportunity for something sexy, or dark, or intense. It ends up as not that much of anything.

confused and boring, 19 July 2016

Detectives Havenhurst (Willem Dafoe) and Vargas (Michael Peña) are called to a crime scene. Mrs. McCullam has been stabbed to death. Her son Brad McCullam (Michael Shannon) is the prime suspect and he has taken hostages in the house across the street. The police interviews his fiancé Ingrid Gudmundson (Chloë Sevigny) and director Lee Meyers (Udo Kier) who reveal past incidents and his mental deterioration.

This is Werner Herzog and therefore it must be a masterpiece. He is taking the familiar cop crime drama and mixing it with a character study of a disturb mind. He has created his own language and a wonderful new form of cinema. What if this is not Werner Herzog? Then this would be a confusing, boring piece of crap. The constant reliance on flashbacks drains any immediacy and tension from the movie. These are great actors. The structure of the movie really let the whole thing down. Instead of his voice, his vision is a mess of the traditional genre.

What's in the Museum!, 19 July 2016

It's Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in the 1940s. Almost everyone works in the dangerous coal mine and there is a Chinese diner in town. Margaret MacNeil (Helena Bonham Carter) falls for bagpipe-playing Neil Currie (Clive Russell) who got himself fired from the mine. She lives with her mother Catherine (Kate Nelligan), younger brother Jimmy, father Angus (Kenneth Welsh), grandfather Dunald who suffers from black lung, and others. She continues to lose family to the mine. Jimmy has an illicit romance with mine manager's daughter Marilyn. Neil uses discarded materials to build a house overlooking the sea for Margaret. In a flashforward at the start of the movie, Margaret is running a museum in the house which horrified a visitor sending her running.

Paraphrasing the famous Se7en line. What's in the Museum!? Other than that, the story is a little rambling. The central relationship isn't that dramatic. There are very few hurdles for their pairing. It delivers a compelling sense of the place. The tension is simply not that high. It does have a shock for the ending. I certainly understand the difficulty in adapting the novel but it's not dramatic enough (except for What's in the Museum!).

sweet little story, 19 July 2016

It's 1902 London. Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) is a spinster living with her parents. Harold Warne and Fruing Warne agree to publish her children's book. They expect nothing other than a project for their brother Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor). His sister Millie (Emily Watson) befriends her. The three of them become best of friends as Beatrix become a great success. Norman proposes to Beatrix but her mother rejects his lower class. Beatrix agrees with her father to holiday in the country and marry Norman afterwards if she still wishes.

Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor are a sweet duo and that's the sense of this movie for the most part. These two actors work well together and Emily Watson is a solid third wheel. The tension and drama is actually pretty low until the death. Beatrix needs more hurdles to overcome and more drama. I would definitely end this movie much quicker after the death. It's so sudden that it doesn't really register. Overall, it's a mostly light story that has well-matched actors.

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