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2372 reviews in total 
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Rush (2013/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solid filmmaking from Ron Howard, 16 April 2014

Based on the true story of the Formula 1 racing rivals brash English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his tough methodical uncompromising opponent Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) during the 1970s.

Director Ron Howard has great skills to put together a top notch movie. The racing action is exciting. The 70s style looks good. I love all the cars. Everybody is great in this. I do have two minor problems. I hate most narrations and this is no exception. It is good for exposition but mostly takes the audience out of the movie. However a narration from the real Niki Lauda at the end would be great.

The other problem is more basic. The movie follows both drivers equally. Although it's filled with details from both men, it's not as easy to fully commit to either men. A more traditional structure would follow one protagonist and it would be a more compelling story. My personal preference would be to follow Hunt up to the Nürburgring Nordschleife race. Then they could go back to Niki Lauda's story from the beginning showing the other side of the story all the way to the end. That way it would minimize the back and forth and maximize the rooting interest.

Great odd couple pairing, 16 April 2014

Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) is a wacky oddball. Doctor Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) is a confident NY psychotherapist who is looking forward to a "Good Morning America" appearance to push his book. A colleague pawns Bob off to Leo as a new patient. Bob is immediately attached to Leo and his book's advise of Baby Steps. When Leo tells Bob that he's going on vacation with his family, Bob can't take it and tracks him down. Leo thinks his life is great, but not everything is going as well as he supposes. His townie neighbors hate him. His son is afraid to dive. His daughter hates to be over-analyzed and has normal boy troubles. His wife could do with more consideration from Leo. And worst of all, everybody loves Bob.

Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss make for a great odd couple. They are both doing something within their skill sets. Bill Murray is especially wacky in this, and Dreyfuss plays annoyed very well without being completely unlikeable. One could certainly understand Leo's point of view, but it's also obvious how wrong he is.

Baz Luhrmann extravaganza, 16 April 2014

It's 1899 Paris. Christian (Ewan McGregor) is an English writer trying to take in Parisian artistic life. He befriends Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo). He gets involved with Moulin Rouge star Satine (Nicole Kidman). The club owner Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) has promise her to the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) if he would invest.

It's got Baz Luhrmann's grand vision. It's a modern day musical. McGregor and Kidman are surprisingly good as singers. It's still not my taste but it's got the style right. Its excesses are what sells this movie. Anything less would reduce this to no more than musical theater. The story is melodramatic but it is in keeping with the tone of the movie. Even using modern songs as burlesque music seems somehow fitting if somewhat weird.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Great fun and a compelling Tony Stark, 16 April 2014

Back in 1999, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) meets up with Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) who is working on her bio project. It would simply be an one night stand and he would also blow off Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). The two of them would come back to cause trouble in the present. In the present, Stark is haunted by the battle of NY and is suffering sleepless nights and panic attacks. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is now CEO. Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle)'s suit has been renamed Iron Patriot. And there is a new terror menace named The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

I love the fact that Stark is suffering from the battle of NY. The sarcastic humor is funnier than ever. In this one, Stark even picks up a funny boy sidekick. His character is deeper than ever. If there is one problem with the movie, Stark is too often without his suits. It makes the ending less reasonable. But the ending is chalk full of explosive fun, and I'm willing to ignore any minor problems.

Group chemistry never settled down, 16 April 2014

An old William H. Bonney (Emilio Estevez) retells his life as a young Billy the Kid. At first, he's running with Pat Garrett (William Petersen) and Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh (Christian Slater). A settled Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) is now a teacher, but he is taken prisoner by the law as well as Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips). Billy the Kid eludes capture despite a hefty bounty. Governor Wallace wants him to testify and promises him a pardon in a secret pact. They fake his capture but it turns all too real when D.A. Rynerson (R.D. Call) double crosses him. He helps Doc and Chavez escape from lynch mob. Despite wanting to go back east, Doc finds himself being chased along with the rest on their way to Mexico. They go to former ally John Chisum (James Coburn) who is the richest man in the new territories. However things don't go well and Chisum hires Garrett to kill the fugitives as the new sheriff.

I really don't like the old man narration. It takes a little too long to get the gang back together. The three remaining originals still have a great deal of chemistry. However the group is too much in flux. People keeps coming in and leaving. The group doesn't settle down until 3/4 hour in to develop its chemistry. The other characters also keep showing up and confusing the story. This should be much easier as a simple chase movie.

Very unique look, 15 April 2014

Penny (Michele Hicks) is a prostitute hired for Francis Falls (Michael Polish). When she gets there, she finds Francis and Blake Falls (Mark Polish) are actually conjoined twins living in a rundown hotel. She runs away at first but she has to go back to retrieve her purse. Blake is the stronger one while Francis' health declines. On Halloween, the brothers go out to see their mother (Lesley Ann Warren). Penny runs into them at a diner and she takes them out to a party.

The Polish brothers have created an unique looking film. First there are the Siamese brothers. They are absolutely original and very compelling. The brother filmmakers use the haunted model looks of Michele Hicks to the fullest. She started late with her acting career after modeling but she shows some skills. There is a lot of whisper acting, and slow pacing. This has a memorable look and a strange tone. And it is their humanity that shows through.

Good movie with a lot of flashy acting, 15 April 2014

Fictionalized real story of the Abscam scandal. It starts in 1978 with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) using con-man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) to catch corrupt politicians. Irving is unhappily married to Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). Eventually they set their sights on Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the big New Jersey political operator.

Director David O. Russell has gathered his gang of actors to wow us with a lot of flash. It's a lot of big acting moments, wild characterizations, era music, and crazy get-ups. There is a fascinating story beneath it all. All the flash makes the story look superficial when it's not. However the flash makes it fun.

Literary Fantasy not my taste but I won't hold it against the movie, 15 April 2014

Gil (Owen Wilson) is on a trip to Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her rich conservative family. One night, Gil takes a walk by himself as Inez goes dancing with her friends. A car stops and picks up Gil who is a little tipsy. He ends up in a party in the 1920s with some literary luminaries of the times. He's an amateur writer and is in awe of the company. He can't seem to take Inez there, but he goes back every night to see his new found friends especially Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

This must be what a fantasy looks like to the literary set. There is a lack of tension. This is more lyrical and more whimsical. The real world holds no interest for me, and I couldn't care less if Gil walks away from it all. My solution would be to fuse the characters Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux) and Adriana together. The fantasy world isn't real enough for me. Gil is constantly in awe. It feels like a costume party with all the literary name dropping. It's not really my field of expertise and I may be missing a lot. It is however very well done with Owen Wilson's great wide-eyed character.

Thief (1981)
early stage Michael Mann, 15 April 2014

Frank (James Caan) runs a car lot, and also cracks safes. He likes Jessie (Tuesday Weld) at the diner who doesn't know what he does. His friend Okla (Willie Nelson) is dying in prison. A gangster Leo (Robert Prosky) wants to hire him to do scores. Jessie has a past with a dead drug dealer in Columbia and she likes the straight life now. He has a picture of his perfect straight life if he could get enough money together. So he decides to do a couple of big jobs taking along his partner Barry (James Belushi).

This is an early Michael Mann theatrical movie. It already has his crime realism style. James Caan is in solid form in one of his best performance. It has the intensity, and detailed crime drama. The production is not slick yet and has a gritty quality to it. The use of advisers really pay off for this movie.

Flimsiest of light rom-com, 15 April 2014

Samantha Mackenzie (Katie Holmes) has always been a sweet proper girl and the only daughter of the President (Michael Keaton). She is going off to college and the strict Secret Service protection doesn't always fit. She falls for student James Lansome (Marc Blucas). However the president is in his re-election campaign and James isn't who she thinks he is.

It's always odd to note that this was directed by Forest Whitaker, but he seems to like these light rom-coms. And this is the lightest of rom-com especially in the first half. Katie Holmes is playing a stiff character and isn't allowing the comedy to come through. The movie does improve slightly with the twist for about 15 minutes, but then it falls apart with a flat unimpressive ending.

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