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Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
Loved it ... much, much better than I expected !!!
I went in expecting nothing more than to be spared mediocrity and boredom. The only lure (promise of a worthwhile movie experience) was the presence of Jeff Bridges ... and he delivered. There were also two cast members that gave extremely good performances: Newcomer Cynthia Erivo, and the young Lewis Pullman. He looked somewhat familiar to me, and duh, his last name ! .... He is Bill Pullman's son !!
Back to the movie itself .... I can summarize by saying that overall, it was highly satisfying in much the same manner that L. A. Confidential was. In the end, everything is nicely wrapped and concluded smart-and-efficient-like. You can't ask for much more !!!
Somewhat disappointing !
Maybe it is the shallowness of the story or the less than stellar performances of the leads, ... but in the end one is left unsatisfied by the aimlessness of it all ! This movie is a total sham beginning with the pretentious title itself. In the end, you will be left asking: What is the whole point of this misadventure?
I could say more, but I don't want to spoil it for the fans of McConaughey and Hathaway.
Just the right touch! A morally enriching movie!
I must confess that I haven't written a movie review in a very long time. The reason basically is that I haven't had the motivation or the interest. Indeed, there are good movies out there for sure, but they hardly ever see the light of day. They are relegated to special community theaters that are mostly artsy in nature. But I am glad that "42" did not fall into that category. It is a good thing that it is achieving wider notice.
To a naturalized American from Ethiopia, this movie is not only generally educational but also deeply and emotionally nerve-wracking. This country that I love has gone thru the wringer historically in extricating itself from ignorance, hate, and ugliness of the human soul. It has been a long and continuous struggle. And although some would like you to believe that there is no more hate or discrimination in the U.S.A., one only needs to remember that these evils are like persistent garden weeds that need constant digging out. They are not completely eradicable. They manifest themselves in a variety of ways. That is why the Civil Rights battles must continue.
This country will persevere because of heroes like Jackie on one side and quiet, decent, justice-minded Americans on the other. May God truly bless and keep America on the right path!
Exceeded my expectations!
Wow! At the end of this movie, I found myself realizing that I had been passively taking in everything and expecting a predictable outcome to every shenanigan of the title character. Nicholas Cage is the bad lieutenant, but he is more crazy than bad. You are never really terribly revolted by him, and indeed you see him as a victim of circumstances. True, as they say: you made your bed, now lay on it. And he accepts that.
Indeed, the whole burden of the movie is virtually on Mr. Cage's shoulders. And, incidentally, the thing he does with his shoulder is the mark of a great actor. His quirkiness never fails to entertain even when it is over the top. We all know that Jack Nicholson brings a controlled and wily insanity to his roles; Nicholas Cage, on the other hand, brings something a little extra ... the unexpected! I recommend this movie highly, although it is not for the weak of heart or for those with delicate sensibilities.
Running Scared (2006)
You're in for one crazy roller-coaster ride, bang, bang, bang!
A great movie destined, as some have said, for cult status! The story and the final outcome are almost hard to believe. But if you can get on board with little or no baggage of mental reservations , you will be well rewarded in the end. You will be thankful for the experience of viewing a movie that has a thunderbolt of a major plot intertwined with unexpected but still harrowing subplots. Assuredly, the suspense and violent action will keep you on your toes for most of the film. But above all, to me, what sealed it was that although at first I questioned the why-of-it-all (the initial spark, i.e. Joey Gazelle's stupid act of not securing the place where he kept his guns), I eventually realized that, were it not for that, all the subplots may not have occurred. And I am glad that they did. Last, but not least, I would like to commend all the actors for the great ensemble tour-de-force.
Just a dandy movie all around!
I saw this movie when it was first released in 1992, and it was money well spent. The story line is deceptively simple and not too convoluted. The characters are very believable and engaging, even the minor ones. However, I have to say that the greatest tribute goes without question to Dustin Hoffman. He delivers one heck of a performance. This was the one for which he should have gotten an Oscar, and not for Rainman. His acting here is smooth as silk, very natural and very believable. It is kinda like the work he did in "Midnight Cowboy" or "Straw Dogs". But then it is the material of the story that has to work for the actor to flesh out a truly believable character. Supporting cast also matter a great deal, and here we have the wonderful Andy Garcia (not Tom Cruise) and Geena Davis. I want also to commend the director of this movie, Stephen Frears, who although not quite a household name, consistently makes top-notch movies.
The Aviator (2004)
This is movie-making the old-fashioned way. Characters are really fleshed out and every moment is eventful and meaningful. I don't know where a fellow IMDb commentator is coming from when he describes the movie as boring (too long) and Howard Hughes as psychopathic. That is just rubbish! The movie is only boring for people with no imagination and high attention deficit. If Hughes was psychopathic so also were many of the great figures in history. They paid for their greatness with their sufferings and eventual self destruction. We do not understand the source of genius, so we conveniently attribute it to being driven by "demons" or "psychopathy". I recommend that we take a different approach. Simply see the movie and marvel at some piece of wonderful acting and story-telling that is involving and just pure delight. At the same time, get to know a great American, Howard Hughes.
Road to Perdition (2002)
Kudos to all! A great movie for "Father's Day"!!
This is one of those movies that stays with you for a long time after you have seen it because it gets you to invest your emotions and intellect in the story. You are well-rewarded for your involvement because the story is basically that of the love between a father and son that comes to the surface in a time of crisis (a family tragedy). The tale is told exquisitely and with just the right amount of subtlety. Nothing is over the top. You will appreciate the love of fathers to their offspring no matter what the situation. When you are done watching the movie, compare the motivations of the two fathers in the movie, Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.
We're No Angels (1955)
This is my favorite X-MAS classic movie!
A much better movie than the sappy and over-wrought "A Wonderful Life" with James Stewart, although he is always great. Storywise, "We're No Angels" has a more interesting and realistic premise. Also, there is a bit of sardonic humor which is exquisitely delivered by the three leading protagonists...Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray. I recommend this movie very highly!!!
I saw this movie when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. All I remember about it is that it was about a man (Robert Ryan) with the unusual and most unfortunate position of being stranded in a desert (a real inferno) and at the same time being hunted down by a cheating wife and her murderous lover. Ryan delivers a top notch performance in this suspenseful and highly dramatic film. This is a very good and satisfying movie.
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
Very touching and memorable!
Whenever good moving drama, excellent casting, and fine direction conjoin in film making, the result is one heck of a memorable movie. HKMA is one such movie. It is one of Robert Mitchum's best works. Deborah Kerr is also superb. And the interesting thing about these two performers is the wonderful chemistry between them (they have worked together in at least two other movies, and they were consistently outstanding). This is a war-time story with a heart although the central theme is about clash (or conflict) between opposites. Mitchum vs. Kerr, man vs. woman, soldier vs. nun. However, they become allies because they have a common enemy. The screenplay is extremely well-written, and the movie is expertly directed. Lastly, I would like to say that "Patience pays!"; this movie is finally available in widescreen DVD! Enjoy!
Delightful with a few reservations!
This is quite an enjoyable movie. The storyline requires a bit of a stretch for reality check, but you will still enjoy the whimsical humor. Also, the slow pace may be a deterrent for those with attention deficit syndrome. If you are the type that likes dramas with intertwined stories, i.e.- human inter-relationships, you will find this movie fits that mold. Look for Martin Short in a bit part as a slimy lawyer. He is a hoot!
Three Kings (1999)
Quite Good Actually!
I rather enjoyed this movie although I went in fearing it was going to be a rip-off of "Kelly's Heroes", the '70's Clint Eastwood flick. The similarities between the two movies ends in the dare-devil antics of wartime soldiers attempting to get their hands on some loot. "Three Kings" goes further in exploring the horrors and attending lunacy of war as well as the possible gallantry and humanity of ordinary individuals. I highly recommend this movie.
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
To Be Treasured!
Joy, joy, joy. What a magnificent little movie! A fable-like tale that pulls at one's heart-strings and evokes a celebration of simple yet grand values such as family, community, honor, justice, and last but not least love. The story's greatness is in its simplicity. Robert Redford should have earned an Oscar for his eloquent direction of this movie (a contemporary tale of David and Goliath). Redford was as superb here as he was with "Ordinary People".
Rain Man (1988)
Much Ado About Little
This movie never really affected me the way it has many people. I just could not relate to either of the lead characters in any way because the characterizations are too trite and the acting is not that impressive. Also, there have been similar movies made in the past that were much more effective and deeply touching. Two outstanding examples are... 1 - "Of Mice and Men" with Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney Jr., and 2 - "Scarecrow" with Al Pacino, Gene Hackman.
Goin' South (1978)
An Outright Delight!
This is just a great movie! Jack Nicholson and Mary Steenbergen are an odd pair, but there is chemistry between their characters that is very nuanced. Nicholson's acting is so effortless and natural that you marvel at his technique. He adds a hint of buffonery to the roguish character he plays. The controlled lunacy of the character is so infective that one can't help but root for the feller!
White Man's Burden (1995)
Given its stated satirical premise, I was hoping this movie would have some redeeming social value. The reversed world of this movie does not make sense because it does not adequately answer human motivations for opressing and maltreating fellow humans. What is the point of this movie? Is it to open the white man's eyes to his wrong ways by asking him to put himself in the oppressed group's (i.e blacks) shoes and suffer society's ills? Why? Why must this wheel be reinvented? This is an approach that almost always reverses or negates any progress that has been made in social and political areas. If this movie had even a single positive point to put across to us, I would have at least given it a passing grade. Unfortunately, I think that this movie's net effect is to perpetuate existing stereotypes. To think Belafonte was lured out of semi-retirement from moviedom for this piece of balderdash!
I recently watched mostly to see a Rita Hayworth flick
I recently watched this movie on cable mostly to see a Rita Hayworth flick. Regrettably, this movie is the pits! It was not one of her greatest works although her sexual prowess was well exploited. The dialogue, the acting, the overall production values, and the direction remain, in my opinion, some of the most amateurish and pathetic on record. Furthermore, the movie suffers from its subversion of the true story of Salome for no good reason. Hayworth might have been more interesting as the vixen of all vixens!
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Exquisite in all aspects!!!
This movie is based on the prize-winning book of the same name by Harper Lee. It is semi-autobiographical, and so it cannot be dismissed or taken lightly as a work of pure fiction. In my opinion, the movie is very faithful to the book. Hats off to Gregory Peck for a superb acting job as Atticus. Robert Duvall has a small but very pivotal part in this movie. He does an excellent job as well. On another front, the musical score soothes its way into your heart from the start of the movie and stays with you for a long time afterwards. The message of Love and Compassion is the central theme of this movie, and by my estimation, it has rarely been so well communicated. One has to be made of stone not to be moved (and hopefully changed for the better) by it. Thank you to all who took part in the making of this, to quote Keats, "thing of beauty"!
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Just a good old fun time at the movies!
You can only either love this movie or detest it. I just absolutely love this movie! It is just way cool! It is hip, it is very humorous and full of action. Geena Davis plays a split-personality role to a hilt and with vigor. Samuel L Jackson adds hilarity and natural exuberance. Also look for Brian Cox who delivers one of the funniest lines ever in a movie... something he annoyedly observes about a little pet dog.
The Apartment (1960)
What a delightful movie! It has all the right ingredients for a modern-day tale of an insurance clerk's big-city life. His big career ambitions are earning him an undeserved reputation of a rake by his neighbors. But in reality, he is really a very decent fellow whose only flaw is an unrestrained romantic heart. Jack Lemmon plays J.J. Baxter (a.k.a. "buddy boy')just perfectly. Shirley MacLaine is the love interest, and Fred MacMurray is surprisingly good in one of those rare roles for him. There is bittersweet romance, and there is plenty of humor and satire. The social setting may seem outdated now, especially in the area of men's predatory attitudes towards women in the work place. But maybe it is only a matter of degree of sophistication. At any rate, like the doctor in this movie says, "Be a human being!"... and see The Apartment. I guarantee you will be well rewarded!
Yellow Sky (1948)
A rare gem of a western that never really got its due appreciation.
This western has adventure, romance, passion, and a very heartwarming ending. The stars, Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter, have great chemistry and their acting is just wonderful. Anne Baxter is feisty and really shines in this movie. Although the movie is over half a century old, it is nonetheless very entertaining and delivers on all fronts.
This is definitely not run-of-the-mill stuff.
A top-notch western with Burt Lancaster expertly cast in the title role. He is supported by an excellent group of veteran character players (Robert Ryan, Lee J Cobb, Albert Salmi). The story is very simple, but there is great character study and an emotional (and suspenseful) buildup to the plot. We get superb performances especially by Burt as a quiet but forceful man dedicated to "playing by the rules". I enjoyed this movie very much. It has the feel of a classic, and indeed it should be considered one because the story and the performances are not easily forgettable. It is a movie that leaves one asking moral (philosophical) questions at the end, and that is as it should be. By my definition, when a movie or a play does that, then it is a classic.
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
One of the best war/adventure movies ever.
This is just a superb movie with some big gun (pardon the pun) actors in an ensemble performance! The best one of the lot here is Anthony Quinn, who is practically stealing scenes left and right. David Niven is also quite delightful in a role for which he should have gotten some kind of an award. And of-course Gregory Peck, as usual, delivers! (Sorry, I am a big fan of Mr. Peck.) The Navarone saga is told with just the right amount of detail. There are no over-labored moments in this movie. To top it all off, the movie has an excellent theme music that is memorable and uniquely appropriate. All in all, this movie is truly one of those about which is said..."They don't make 'em like that anymore!"
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
A gritty, serious, and very effective western.
This is one of those real tough, no-nonsense westerns that Paramount Pictures was producing one after another back in the Fifties. Kirk Douglas is the star here; and he is in top form as a lawman determined to bring to justice his wife's killers. The problem is that one of the killers turns out to be the only son of his best friend (Anthony Quinn). The friendship of the two men comes to be tested especially since Quinn had once saved Douglas' life in an earlier time. Quinn begs, then demands that his son be let go by Douglas as a favor. But, this is asking too much because Douglas not only needs justice for himself but also because he is a principled lawman. It all leads to an inevitable, violent confrontation in the climactic finale. The story is told with economy and enough drama to keep you involved to the end.