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weird history in place of a compelling story, 21 May 2015

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins) invented corn flakes. Along with his other believes in health, he opened a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. William (Matthew Broderick) is a new patient following his wife Eleanor Lightbody (Bridget Fonda) who is a Kellogg devotee. On the train there, they encounter Charles Ossining (John Cusack) who is trying to profit from the health food craze with partner Goodloe Bender (Michael Lerner). George (Dana Carvey) is Kellogg's disappointing adopted son who is always looking for money.

This is a lot wacky turn-of-the-century health ideas. The problem is that the movie is in love with them. They take the place of a compelling story. The vast cast of characters keep the plot scattered and unfocused. It tries to be a screwball comedy but it's not funny. Alan Parker seems happy to let the plot lines drift while he pays more attention to the unusual health practices. It doesn't help that almost every character is played odd and broad.

some good stories, 21 May 2015

It's 1954. Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster) comes from the northwest section of Baltimore in a Jewish neighborhood. There is institutionalized anti-Semitism. He lives with his older brother Van (Adrien Brody), mother Ada (Bebe Neuwirth), father Nate (Joe Mantegna) and grandma. Integration is bringing in blacks and Ben falls for Sylvia as she introduces him to black culture. Van obsesses over blonde WASP princess Dubbie. Her complicated boyfriend Trey Tobelseted takes him under his wing to the confusion of his racist friend Ted. Nate runs the numbers and has a burlesque theater as his legitimate business. Small-time weed pusher Little Melvin (Orlando Jones) hits it big on the numbers.

Filmmaker Barry Levinson brings his Baltimore hometown onto the screen. I don't find Ben Foster's side of the story that compelling when it probably should be the A story. The more fascinating story is Adrien Brody and his obsession with Dubbie and her complicated relationship with Trey. Also Yussel is a funny character. There is some great music like James Brown in the movie and it's a terrific era for that. I wish the movie has more period rock music integrated into its tone.

Derailed (2005/I)
Sick daughter really screws this up, 20 May 2015

Charles (Clive Owen) and Deanna Schine (Melissa George) are in a troubled marriage. Their sick daughter Amy (Addison Timlin) notices. He meets Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) on the train to work. They flirt and start to meet more often. He's having trouble at work as a financial adviser. He's saving money for anti-rejection drugs for Amy's kidney transplant. After betting Lucinda that he could kiss her without touching her, they go to a sleazy hotel together. LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) hold them up and rapes Lucinda. She tells him not to call the cops. LaRoche soon starts blackmailing him. He tells ex-con Winston Boyko who works at his company.

The sick daughter really screws things up. It makes it hard to sympathize with Charles who is cheating not only on Deanna but also Amy. Then he gives away the money for his daughter's health. It all adds up to a lot of wrong motivations. The twist is both obvious and unearned. Aniston keeps the movie compelling and Vincent Cassel is a good cartoon villain. However it is simply too manipulative and too many things go wrong. Although the bar bet is pretty smooth.

Luckytown (2000)
lifeless drama, 20 May 2015

Lidda (Kirsten Dunst) leaves Tulsa, Oklahoma and her mother to find her father Charlie Doyles (James Caan), a professional gambler in Vegas. She carries around a check from him. She takes store clerk Colonel (Vincent Kartheiser) along for the ride when somebody comes collecting his debt. Colonel considers himself to be a poker player. Charlie faces old nemesis Tony in high stakes poker. Charlie is in love with stripper Sugar working in Tony's club. Jimmy works for Tony to rob and then kill gamblers. Tony's nephew Frankie arrives from Italy to be the new member of the crew.

This movie is very clunky. Nobody is particularly compelling. Kirsten is grumpy and Vincent is no leading man. They don't have any chemistry. James Caan is coasting on his reputation in this movie. Luis Guzmán is a passable hit-man but he's capable of much more. This is trying to be a hard-boiled crime drama and personal drama. It doesn't have the style or any good writing. It doesn't have any thrills or tension. It stumbles on and on as the audience waits for Lidda to finally meet up with Charlie.

Jeff Bridges perfect, 20 May 2015

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a drunk broke country singer whose best days are in the past. Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a journalist doing an in-depth piece on the old legend. They open up to each other and start a relationship. He tries to get his life together. He talks to star Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) who was once his mentors. Everybody wants him to write new songs but he hasn't written anything in three years.

This movie is simply living off of Jeff Bridges' natural performance. He is absolutely perfect for this role. He is touching and compelling. Gyllenhaal is good. Colin Farrell surprises with a great cameo. Their scene together is so wonderful. The story is rather thin and moves at a leisurely pace. There is a lot of country music. It's an easy comforting journey.

some dumb comedy from funny duo, 20 May 2015

Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) are best friends and roommates. They are 30, struggling in L.A. and on the verge of going back to Ohio. Ryan is the former star quarterback who never made it to the pros. Justin wants to be a video game designer but can't sell his Patrolman game. They dress up as cops for their college reunion. Then Ryan has an idea to "Let's be cops". They challenge gangsters endearing themselves with the locals like Josie (Nina Dobrev). They are befriended by beat cop Segars (Rob Riggle).

It's odd that Jake Johnson is the former star quarterback. Damon might be able to pass for it. I do like the duo and their crazy stupid bromance. They are hilarious in those little scenes together. Stripping in club is funny. The problem is that they put the guys in a serious crime drama. That's not funny. This isn't 'Beverly Hills Cop'. The comedy is much broader so it can't do anything serious. It's a lot of silly idiocy. The point is that they really shouldn't be cops.

weak lead actor, 20 May 2015

Merchant sailor Alex Walker (Kevin Anderson) is stranded in Mexico after missing his ship's departure. His wallet is stolen and the man who stole it is killed by somebody. The cops are after him for the murder. He joins up with Phillip Mills (John Lithgow) and his trophy wife Missy (Rosanna Arquette).

Kevin Anderson is a weak actor and his character isn't particularly interesting either. Arquette is broadly sexual. She even sleeps sucking her thumb. She has some fun camping it up. However Anderson is the black hole of charisma. Lithgow is possessive and jealous. The production is not high quality. If they could get a charismatic leading man, this could be an interesting trio.

Nadine (1987)
couple not that fun, 20 May 2015

It's 1954 Austin, Texas. Nadine Hightower (Kim Basinger) tries to get her 'art studies' back from Escobar who claimed to know Hugh Hefner. He is killed by an unknown assailant and she gets away with what she assumed to be her photos. Instead, the folder contains highly valuable plans of a proposed new road. Her husband Vernon (Jeff Bridges) wants her to sign the divorce papers but she wants his Buick. He owns the useless bar Blue Bonnet and going out with Renée Lomax (Glenne Headly). Both the cops and the bad guy Buford Pope (Rip Torn) are after her. She tricks Vernon to join her as she tries to recover her lost photos. He steals the plans and tries to get money for it.

Jeff Bridges is kind of annoying. It's really his character. Even as a hostage, he's completely brash and arrogant. That rubbed me the wrong way. Their renewed romance is abrupt and forced. Their combo isn't funny and I'm not sure they tried particular hard to be funny. It may help if he doesn't have another woman waiting around. Glenne Headly is as annoying as hell and Kim Basinger screams way too much. It's not even screwball enough to be fun. They keep getting caught by the bad guys but it's like a Bond movie.

good Hitchcockian start but falters, 20 May 2015

Dr. Sam Rice (Roy Scheider) is a Manhattan psychiatrist like his mother Grace (Jessica Tandy). He's recently divorced. One of his patients George Bynum has been killed. He is visited by the mysterious Brooke Reynolds (Meryl Streep) who worked with Bynum at the auction house Crispin's. She's also Bynum's mistress. They are interrupted by Detective Vitucci and she accidentally leaves behind a watch. Dr. Rice examines his files on Bynum and suspicions falls on Reynolds.

I really like the Hitchcockian touches. I love the laundry room when the lights go out in the hallway. I did not like all the flashback re-examination of his files. The plot loses its way a bit and some of its tension. Meryl Streep is pretty good as the mysterious damsel-in-distress. Although she's not the classic sex bombshell. Scheider is still a good leading man. This could be a much better mystery thriller.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
unique hybrid blend, 19 May 2015

Ira Wells (Art Carney) is a broke aging private detective in L.A. His friend Harry Regan shows up at his door mortally wounded. Charlie Hatter introduces him to quirky Margo Sperling (Lily Tomlin) who is looking for her stolen cat. Harry was working for Margo before his demise. Ira decides to take on the case and track down Harry's killer. It's a lot of twists and turns with a good amount of danger.

This is a weird hybrid of a movie. It's a little wacky due a lot to Lily Tomlin and her character but it's not exactly a comedy. It has roots in the hard-boiled detective stories. The movie keeps twisting and turning. It is a long winding road to follow. The plot gets a bit confused. It is definitely something different and unique.

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