Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Gone Girl (2014)
Too Drawn-out and should have stayed a book
On the morning of his 5th wedding anniversary Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home from his bar to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing and the house looked like that there was a struggle and there is blood that was cleaned up. He calls the Police and they sympathize for a while, but later they feel that Nick knows more than he is telling. Did he kill his wife? He claims not.
I suppose the book was pretty good, this movie not so much. The story had a sort of beginning, and a middle where it stayed for most of the time, too long a time; and although, we in the audience, believed that Nick had nothing to do with Amy's disappearance we couldn't help but get bored with everything as this was really dragged out. The ending is too bizarre to go into at this point.
As the police investigate, they find more clues to show that Nick did kill his wife, but everything is circumstantial as there is no body. The police entertain the prospect that Amy was kidnapped and still hold Nick as a person of interest. Nick hires celebrity lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) who believes Nick is completely innocent. Nick wants to tell the police that everything looks like he was set up but Tyler Perry won't allow this at the moment.
This movie may have had better intrigue and impact if it was much shorter. I am sure the book had erotic moments as we do see some sex scenes, but these scenes were not at all erotic. Again, maybe the book was better, this movie, not so much. Also, there is sexual language, at times, that use the C word along with other f-bombs.
The movie does go into what actually happened and this gets dragged out too. We keep asking when will all this come to some conclusion? Hey, we can't stay up all night with this the way it is going. We need our sleep. We come to our conclusion that this should have stayed a book.
When we learn everything there is to know we finally get to the ending, which, of course, is dragged out too. It is bizarre and maybe the director or writer was trying to make statements about marriage and the reasons many stay together. You can figure this out and debate it among yourselves.
Our conclusion: too drawn-out and should have stayed a book. The acting was okay, and the story may have had better impact if the movie was compacted so we didn't lose interest. (3/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: Yes, several times Nudity: Yes. Language: Yes.
John Wick (2014)
Well Done Hit-Man Movie
Mob hit-man John Wick (Keanu Reeves) promised his wife he would quit the business and he does so for 5-years. Then she dies and for him not to be alone she had arranged for a Beagle puppy delivered to him at home. Then the son of mob boss Viggio (Michael Nyqvist) - who John Wick used to work for - wants his car ( a souped-up 1969 Mustang ) beats him up and kills the puppy. John Wick recovers and knows what he has to do. Let the games begin.
Most hit-man stories have the hit-man (or a narrator) tell about his life and the specific numbered rules he lives by. And during the time of the movie, we will see this hit-man break every rule he has. This time it's different. This time it's pure revenge. We don't know the rules John Wick used to live by. But make no mistake about all this, now John Wick is out to make things right his way (get chills saying that?).
To be clear we learn that everyone, including Viggio, is afraid of John Wick, but Viggio must protect his son from John Wick.
The rest of the movie is a well-orchestrated choreography of gun fights. Some special effects regarding vehicles are included and are quite good. The cinematography in this gun-fest is also quite good. The music is non-stop heart pounding throughout.
Hit-man Marcus (Willem Dafoe) is contracted by Viggio to take out John Wick. This is insurance in case Viggio's men don't get the job done.
Keanu Reeves is the right actor for this movie. As John Wick, he doesn't talk much but his stares speak volumes (don't forget his guns too). In fact, I have always seen Keanu Reeves as the right actor for any movie he is in. After his character's beating when the car and the dog were gone I felt his pain and loss.
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes, not much.
The Judge (2014)
Good, Not Great
Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) a lawyer and estranged son of Judge Joe Palmer (Robert Duvall) defends his father accused of a hit and run accident that resulted in a death.
The movie should have been titled The Son because it is mostly about Hank Palmer and his wayward ways growing up in the Joe Palmer household. Hank's mother has just died and now Hank must deal with his set-in-his-ways father. We hear all the non-compassionate and brash ways the young Hank treated everyone as he climbed the ladder to success. The family is dysfunctional in many ways, but other issues crop up to complicate matters.
These back stories about the family are fine, but we kept looking for an edge that would prove The Judge not guilty of the charges. So we kept watch with every conversation that Hank has with friends and family to see if something they said would cast some light into getting a not guilty verdict. At the same time we kept hoping for a bonding between father and son although we knew this was next to impossible.
There should have been more tension between father and son and even in the courtroom. I didn't feel that tension. Maybe you will. I kept hoping for a bonding and something that would help the Judge. There should have been tons of tension, and I didn't feel any. I guess, to be honest, I didn't care for either the son or the father the way I should have. Maybe. I just felt something wasn't right (could it have been the dialogues?) Hmmm ..
No Oscars as the acting all around was good, not great. Supporting cast members: Billy Bob Thornton as the opposing lawyer, Dwight Dickham; Vera Farmiga as Samantha (Hank's high school love); Ken Howard as the Judge in Joe's trial; Vincent D'Onofrio as Glen (Hank's older brother); and Jeremy Strong as Dale (Hank's younger brother) were all very good.
To be honest Billy Bob's character as opposing counsel Dwight Dickham was so good I wanted to give him an Oscar. He is that good. He out-shined both Downey Jr and Duvall.
I really liked that silver metallic ring that opened up into a drinking glass for Billy Bob Thornton's character Dickham as he displayed it on the table in the courtroom. Hey, I need to get me one of those.
The ending was kind of inconclusive and you will have to read into it what you want. I mean there were many threads that started in the beginning and they never came full circle to resolution. So you may have to come up with them yourself. They in themselves are not important, but they were there. I'm just saying. (7/10)
Violence: No. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes, some not all that much.
Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
A Big Miss
Magician Stanley (Colin Firth) is hired to debunk a Medium: Sophie (Emma Stone), but has reason to believe she may be the real deal. Then he discovers something else: he may be in love with her. Since Magic is in the title, watch the stripes change direction on Stanley's tie.
I think it's time to put a fork in Woody Allen's movies. He is hit and miss. This is a miss, a big one. The premise sounds interesting, but as we go along we are terribly bored with everything. We knew there was a con at work, but hoped not, but deep down, we knew the con was on. And, we (okay, I) figured it out almost immediately.
Most of the time I was terribly (like that word, don't you?) bored with Stanley's long winded spiels that told me he liked the sound of his own voice. Not to take anything away from Colin Firth as he is just following director instructions and the script - hey, he used to be King – (you won't let that go, will you?)
Ah, the script .. really bad. Half the time the dialogues almost sounded like they wanted to break into Iambic Pentameter. See?
There were no funny lines in here despite Allen's penchant for comedy back in the day. This had all the feelings of a play in which nothing happens. The characters also acted like they were in a play reaching the audience in the back of the theater. Many dialogues sounded too pompous.
Yes, the surrounding scenery in France is quite good, but they were brief.
I was so terribly (again?) bored that I forgot to watch to see if the stripes on Stanley's tie changed. If the stripes did change, that was the only magic in here, but why do that when everything else was a con and not magic? This was a big miss. (3/10)
Violence: No. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: No.
Cinematography wins this good war story
Tank Commander Sgt Collier (Brad Pitt) is ordered to hold an intersection so the German troops won't get thru. The problem is that the Sherman tank (Fury) is disabled and the Germans are marching their way. This can't be good.
What makes this a good war story is the cinematography. It is better or on a par with all previous war movies we may have liked. No, I changed my mind as I feel it is better than all other war movies. You almost feel like you are there. That is how good the cinematography is. The photography and the details shown are incredible. Kudos.
I kind of wished this was a true story and maybe it did have elements of some true stories. I mean there is nothing new under the sun (except for CGI and Star Trek type stories) and the cinematography and heroics seen gave this impression to me. Also, in the beginning we are told by notes on the screen that the German Army possessed far superior tanks than us and we know our forces will be in for the fight of their lives.
The acting all around was good. No Oscars, but good. The supporting cast (Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal) were spot on and when soldiers kill for a living and don't like anything to get in their way, they have a sort of superior attitude about everything. This showed up in spades. There was some very uncomfortable moments when Sgt Collier and Norman (Logan Lerman) the new guy to the tank crew, find a German woman and her cousin and decide to have dinner with them. Then the rest of the crew find them and well, here we go with the uncomfortable moments with these "superior" soldiers.
Downside: The tank is immobilized. The Germans find them. The spare ammo is attached to the outside of Fury. Why is this when they know they will be in the fight of their lives? Whaaat? The Germans fire RPGs and miss. Whaaaat? Germans run in plain sight of Fury so Sgt Collier can mow them down. Whaaaaat? Two hand grenades go into Fury next to Sgt Collier and later we see Sgt Collier intact and not blown up. Whaaaat?
Those were the most glaring errors or mistakes I saw. But this does not take away from the movie as a whole. There is enough tension and suspense to hold you throughout the entire movie. Keep in mind this is a movie for entertainment purposes, but it also shows us the brutality of war.
When the credits run we see footage of soldiers on both sides during WWII.
Again, it is the cinematography that makes this a very good war movie and yes, I did wish this was a true story, and I have to satisfy myself with knowing that some elements were true. (you said that before) (7/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes.
Title is Misleading. No Humor and Too Long
We watch Mason's (Ellar Coltrane) life from age 6 to 18 as he goes thru his mother's (Patricia Arquette) marriages and divorces.
Here's the thing: Most stories have a beginning, a middle and an ending with some kind of conflict in between that is eventually resolved and everyone goes home happy. Here we have an extended Seinfeld story without any comedy/humor and where nothing happens. And this goes on for nearly 3-hours. 3-Hours!!! And, we are not happy.
The real pull (or why everyone wanted to see this) in here is watching a movie that took 12-years to make and noticing the growth and development of all the cast concentrating on Mason, of course.
Here is what Mason sees: adults arguing, fighting with sister Samatha (Lorelei Linklater), looking at a catalog of women bras and panties, email, some politics resulting in ranting by his Dad (Ethan Hawke), listening to adults cursing in front of him and his sister, getting an overbearing abusive stepfather, getting another stepfather who is okay but has overbearing structural issues for Mason, smoking, drug use, alcohol. Generally Mason has no structure, no ambition, and doesn't know what he wants out of life. Add to this: a protective mother who doesn't really do that good of a job. Plus all the moving from city to city.
Here what we don't see: Mason's first kiss, prom night, getting a driver license, having a really good friend to confide in at each new city, any real ambition within himself. And we don't see humor anywhere. That's sad.
To be fair, there are some characters who do try to instill some structure into Mason, but he takes all this with a grain of salt and doesn't see the point in anything when he feels he is the controlled. He does have a talent for taking photos but even he isn't too thrilled with his talent.
Ethan Hawke is a good actor but there were times as Mason's dad where he was annoying trying too hard to connect with Mason and Samantha. Eventually, this leveled out thank goodness.
Too many scenes jumped around without any explanation. The mother is married again, divorced again, in a new house again, in a new city again. Sub titles on the screen may have helped to show time marching on. Didn't happen and we were left to figure it out for ourselves.
Patricia Arquette as Mason's mother steals the show. Her scenes show the most concern with that pleading voice that is so correct for any situation. She was the only one who was animated in a good way. In the end we do see that she didn't pay enough attention to Mason as she should have. She had her issues.
This movie is wrong in showing a boy's life as it tells us that parents' divorces and marriages are the norm. And, they are not. For this reason, the divorces should not have been a part of this movie with this title. The title is misleading.
Again, this is way too long and not representative of a boy's life for the reasons described above. And, again, the title is misleading. And again: 3-Hours???!! Give me a break. (4/10)
Violence: Yes, briefly. A stepfather losing it Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes, at times
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)
Slow Moving, but Enjoyable
Former NYC Detective - now a P.I. - Matt Scudder ( Liam Neeson) helps Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) a drug dealer whose wife is missing. Scudder believes the woman is already dead, but takes the case anyway when he learns that the two bad guys kidnap women and hack them up while asking for money. Oh, there is a rumor that these bad guys are DEA informants. See, it gets complicated.
If you are looking to see something along the lines of Taken, Taken 2 and Taken 3 you will be disappointed. Scudder does say "when I find you, I will kill you." And you think here we go but we really don't. Scudder has all the skills like his Taken character, but is more subdued. Well, until the ending anyway, and then it's not an easy row to hoe.
No, here you will become a detective, sort of, along with Scudder. He and you will do it by good old-fashioned police work. He even walks (you remain on the couch) everywhere like a gumshoe (hope you know what that means). A homeless young boy TJ (Brian Bradley) attaches himself to Scudder. TJ has good drawing illustration skills, wants to become a detective like Scudder and he wants to help solve the case.
This is not as intense as it could have been. In the beginning we see a woman (Kenny's wife) fearing for her life as she is tied up and abused; and the scenes could have given an impression of something erotic, but that is not the case. Those scenes were the most intense.
The movie is slow moving to remind some of us (maybe) of the Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade stories and these two crime fighters are prominently mentioned in here. Slow moving, but enjoyable.
Good acting all around and here Liam Neeson - as Scudder - is acting more like a detective and not an Action-Hero. (7/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: Yes, paintings on a wall. Language: Yes.
Steven (Ryan Phillippe) and wife Shannon (Rachelle Lefevre) get caught up in a child trafficking scam when they go to Puerto Rico to adopt a young girl.
The above is all you really need to know. If you take the language out this would be a tepid made-for-TV movie. The script is lame, the acting is okay but there is no pull here. In other words no real reason to continue watching. There are no twists. What you see is what you get and that is not saying much. If you are not familiar with human trafficking then this is a primer for you: Human Trafficking 101.
Very disappointing. It should have had more impact, importance that would have showcased a very big worldwide problem: human trafficking. Didn't happen.
Normally, I run to a John Cusack movie. Now I have to rethink that. Like I said: disappointing. (3/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes.
And So It Goes (2014)
Watchable. Sometimes Funny
Real Estate Agent Oren Little (Michael Douglas) has a hard time getting over the death of his wife and is mean and crotchety to all who invade his path. When his son drops off daughter Sara (Sterling Jerins) while he goes to prison, Oren is beside himself. Neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton), a wanna-be lounge singer, tries her best to help.
This is watchable and funny at times with Oren's blunt honesty to all. Now you know Oren will change his ways, in time, but until then he is a trip and you never know what he will say next to offend someone. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes not.
The chemistry between Oren and Leah is okay, but sometimes the dialogues were cut short and should have been longer.
The ending was rushed and we really don't see complete resolutions. What we do see are loose ends. Does Oren change his mind and not go to retire in Vermont? We do see him turn around, but does he stay? Do Oren and Leah get married? Does it matter?
There are some scenes that didn't really need to be in here: a young boy exposes himself while changing clothes near a plastic wading pool, a woman shouts to Oren, "Blow me." And a big dog pooping a couple of times, and that same big dog humping a large stuffed bear. See? Quite unnecessary and not funny.
Watchable, funny at times but instantly forgettable. (4/10)
Violence: No Sex: No. Nudity: No. Sexual language:: Yes. Language: Brief soft stuff only.
Unvelievably Good and Seamless
The surviving Humans (from an animal virus) want to restart the generators for the city. The Apes say okay and the only condition is that no guns be allowed. All agree. Yes, Apes talk. Now you know this isn't going to work, right? Each side has its own hothead who wants nothing to do with this. Let the games begin.
I don't know if there were real acting Apes in this, or there were CGI Apes, or Humans made up to look like Apes. This was unbelievably good and everything regarding the Apes was seamless. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, Andy Serkis was Caesar the Top Ape so we know he was dressed as an Ape. There were others, too, dressed that way.
The story is a simple one as you may have already figured out. It's the cinematography, photography and CGI that win in here and hold you. Like I said it's all seamless. The CGI is unbelievable. You will believe. And, you may find yourself caring for the Apes.
When you see the Apes fighting and swinging among trees you may ask yourself: are they real? These scenes are that good.
Nice to see Jason Clark, who did a good job playing Malcom, finally getting a movie shot as he had been in some TV police dramas that didn't run too long and that was sad as those shows were very good as was he.
Gary Oldman and Keri Russell were good in supporting roles as were the rest of the cast.
We last saw Andy Serkis as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He played Caesar in that movie and again in this one. He plays Caesar to perfection.
The over-riding slogan in this and all Planet Ape movies is: Ape does not kill Ape. Too bad Humans have learned nothing from the Ape movies.
Because you may have seen The Planet of the Apes back in the day, you may suspect who is going to win in this one. There may be another Planet Ape movie before we get to see the remake of Planet of the Apes. I am sure there will be a remake. Will check to see if Vegas has book on it.
Over all this is very good, seamless as mentioned and the pacing is spot on. You won't be bored. (7/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes, near the end.
The Equalizer (2014)
Retired CIA agent Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) tries to lead a quiet life, but a near-death beating of escort/prostitute Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz) by the Russians changes that quiet life.
This movie is based upon The Equalizer TV show in the mid-1980s starring Edward Woodward. A good show btw.
In the beginning of this movie we are shown a statement by Mark Twain that says there are two important days in a man's life: the day he is born and the day he finds out why. This applies to Robert McCall as you will see.. And yes, it applies to all of us too. That is probably the most provocative thing Mark Twain has ever said.
McCall is the Calm before the Storm and then he becomes the Storm as you will see. Okay, a Quiet, Controlled Storm.
The movie starts off slowly to set things up for McCall to help Alina. McCall tries to buy Alina's freedom from the Russians and you know that won't work. There is only one thing left to do and he does it.
Problems continue when the big boss Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich), in Russia, sends his top enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to find and kill McCall. You will note that McCall calls Teddy, Nicholi. Csokas does a very good job of being McCall's antagonist and I am sure we will see more of him.
The acting all around is excellent. The fighting scenes are brutal and intense. You will see blood. The music is heart-racing all the way through and pretty good too.
A downside I found was the big fight scene within the place McCall works, Home Mart (like Home Depot). Too many scenes in the dark . Still good, but in the dark (you said that already).
Move over Jason Bourne, Bond, James Bond and the Liam Neeson character with the skills to right all wrongs, we have another player, a Vigilante, if you will, who has decided he knows why he was born. At the end McCall becomes The Equalizer as we see him offering to help someone as he replies on his laptop. Did I hear someone say "Sequel?"
This is most entertaining and we like the quiet, controlled storm Denzel Washington brings to Robert McCall, the Equalizer. (9/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes.
Brick Mansions (2014)
Watch it for the choreography
Damien Collier (Paul Walker) is a Detroit Police Detective and he must go under cover into a walled city (Brick Mansions) where all the most dangerous violence happens to bring out Crime Boss Tremaine (RZA), and defuse a bomb. Because too much violence and crime occurs in this neighborhood, the city thought it best to wall it off from the rest of Detroit. Damien must use the help of Lino (David Belle) an ex-con. The inhabitants of Brick Mansions robbed an armored car and came away with a box that contained a bomb. Once the box is opened the bomb starts ticking the countdown from 10-hours. And, of course, Tremaine opens the box. This can't be good.
This movie is all action and the fight scenes choreography is fantastic. In the beginning we see Lino running from Tremains's men and the choreography is something to behold. You cannot help to be impressed with his moves and this continues the rest of the way with Damien helping with his moves. David Belle as Lino is really good. He's like an Escape Magician. One would think that this would become tedious, but it doesn't. Go figure.
The supporting cast, acting and dialogues all around are suitable for what is going on. There is a big twist near the end. (7/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Some soft stuff only.
The November Man (2014)
The November Man (2014) Pierce Brosnan
CIA agent Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) is lured out of retirement to extract Natalie (Mediha Musliovic) who is working for Federov (Lazar Ristovkski) the Russian candidate running for the presidency and she has evidence (a woman's name) that he participated in war crimes in the Chechen War. Devereaux needs to know who that woman is (Olga Kuryienko as Alice) so she can be protected to insure Federov doesn't become the Russian President. Devereaux is pitted against Mason (Luke Bracey) who he had trained and now Mason is ordered to take Devereaux out. Seems the CIA doesn't appreciate Devereaux's involvement. Oh, oh.
This is a well told and well paced movie with many twists and turns. Brosnan will remind you of characters: Jason Bourne, James Bond, and a Liam Neeson character when he protects his family with his "skills." So it's all good and we hope Brosnan continues in this arena. I would nominate Brosnan for an Oscar and the Academy needs to recognize that many of these Action Hero characters are very good actors who provide a wealth of entertainment.
No CGI was in evidence, but there are some excellent car chasing and fight scene stunts.
A great supporting cast help make this a must see terrific spy movie. You will learn why Devereaux is known as The November Man. Ha! (9/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: Yes, twice in darkened scenes and they don't last long. Nudity: Yes, brief. Language: Yes, not much.
Left Behind (2014)
Over the Top
A couple hours over the Atlantic on a flight piloted by Captain Steele (Nicolas Cage) people disappear and only their clothes are left behind. Turns out this is a world-wide happening. And, of course, panic grips most people.
To be honest, this is a little over the top. When people start disappearing no one cries out something about The Rapture. No, Hollywood has panic spread throughout as it makes for better action. The dialogues of the passengers on the plane were angry, and for the most part lame and believe the Captain has all the answers as they charge to the cockpit. Jordin Sparks as a passenger who just lost her son, acted wildly over the top. Can't blame her, blame the writers of this somewhat over the top movie.
Captain Steele and photo Journalist Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) are the only ones who act reasonably in this crisis, but wait there's a plane heading on a direct line toward them and Captain Steele sees that no one is piloting that plane. Looks like things are going to get worse.
This movie makes you feel as though there is no God and most everyone is an Atheist and no one has any clue about The Rapture. It takes quite a while for the people to be hit over the head and finally come to believe, well, maybe there is a God and what do we do now?
The ending is really over the top as Steele's daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) does her best to clear a runway so the plane can land. She even drives a Steamroller. I wouldn't have a clue as to how to start one. (and who leaves the keys in one?) But to be fair these are exciting scenes and even I was on the edge of my seat helping Cassie start that steamroller to clear a path. Hey, when in Rome, help out. Exciting, but still over the top.
Sadly, it was the dialogues and some bad acting by some that didn't make this the success it could have been. Since I am a big Nicolas Cage fan he did good. He really did. So did Chad Michael Murray and Cassi Tomson. (4/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: No.
Jersey Boys (2014)
Well told, and performed with Great Music
In the mid-1950s a young singing group escapes from a life of petty crime with their first big hit: Sherry. We see the beginning of an iconic singing group to their breakup when Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) sets out on his own with Bob Gaudio (Eric Bergen) doing the song writing. The group settles on the name of The Four Seasons (taken from a motel sign) and is much better than what they were using: The Four Lovers. See?
The Four Seasons: John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, Michael Lomenda as Nick DeVito and Eric Bergen as Bob Gaudio. Other hits: Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don't Cry, Can't Take My Eyes off of You.
The music is terrific as was the acting all around. John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli got better singing as the movie progressed. In the beginning I had my doubts mostly because Frankie Valli's voice is hard to imitate. Not convinced? Listen to the real Frankie Valli when the credits run and you will see. However, when in the group setting on stage Young does a credible job .
Clint Eastwood does a masterful job of telling this story. He uses, at times, a technique whereby an actor turns to the audience to give us additional insight that doesn't have to be explained otherwise. Reminded me of a Walter Cronkite TV show YOU ARE THERE back in the day that used the same technique. (showing your age, are we?). In one scene we see a TV show with a young Clint Eastwood in Rawhide. Alfred Hitchcock used to put himself into his movies sometimes as an extra. We used to keep an eye to see who saw him first.
Bob Gaudio is credited with writing all the songs sung by The Four Seasons; and later for Valli when he went out on his own. Bob Crew (Mike Doyle) also had a hand in song-writing at times.
No matter what the movie is about if Christopher Walken is in it I am there. I simply cannot get enough of his acting as I couldn't for Patrick McGoohan, and Jack Palance. Anyway he was very good as Gyp DeCarlo, a local mob boss.
The pacing is good and the movie never drags. Yes, there are many clichés in here but keep in mind the times and those clichés were in vogue. See?
I would like to have seen real photos of the Four Seasons performing when the credits ran, but that didn't happen. What did happen was a dance by all the cast on some Jersey street as one of Frankie Valli's songs played. Very good. Kudos for the entire movie. (9/10)
Violence: Not really. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Some f-bombs in the beginning then they forgot about it.
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
Gets better as it goes along
This was inspired by a true story.
California High School football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) takes the De La Salle high school to 151 straight victories. This movie starts when the streak is broken and how everyone handles it.
This is one of those movies that gets better and better as it goes along. Bob Ladouceur insists that it not about scoring touchdowns and winning. But he has a method of teaching that actually insures that scoring touchdowns and winning will result. He says his main goal is to prepare his young players to be able to handle life after school so whatever happens, they can be counted on. Simply said, it works. Because of his belief in how he teaches and what he believes, he turns down offers to coach college football.
This is well acted all around and the hard-hitting (ouch, ouch, ouch) scenes on the football field appear to be quite real (Hey, Bob, it's movie magic). Well, I hope so, but I checked with my doctor anyway. So far he says I am good to watch more of these hits. Ouch!
The father of the Quarterback wants his son to achieve the record for the most touchdowns in High School competition nationwide. And, it is here the ending is nothing short of Pure Gold. You will be touched.
Also, you will understand why the title is perfect. (7/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: No.
The Giver (2014)
Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a world that outlaws emotion, but all is peaceful throughout and there is never talk of war. Memories have been erased, occupations are assigned and inhabitants are given daily injections to ward off emotions. Jonas learns, from The Giver (Jeff Bridges), that the world and life were not always so peaceful and that Pain and Emotions thrived in the past as did Love. Jonas receives the truth of the past and wants to do more and avoids his daily injection. He needs to change the world. Can he do it? Inquiring Minds need to know.
I have read that Jeff Bridges had wanted to have this story come to life for many years and the role of The Giver was to be his father , Lloyd Bridges, but he died and Jeff Bridges took the role of The Giver. In here you will be reminded, at times, of other movies: Divergent, Pleasantville and The Hunger Games.
The Pull in here are the conversations between Jonas and The Giver. One wishes there were more of these conversations as they were enlightening. Meryl Streep as the Elder in Charge of everything doesn't want anything to change, of course, and is quite charming in her understated manner of speaking. Yes, charming even though she is the "bad guy" in here.
The acting all around is outstanding. I would give a Best Actor Oscar to Jeff Bridges as he was the glue that made all this quite engaging.
The movie should have been much longer than it was and the ending needed to have more of an impact. Still this is an important and engaging movie with many messages to think about. (9/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: No.
The Expendables 3 (2014)
Watch for the action stunts, CGI and Special Effects
After a failed mission, Barney Ross (Stallone) retires his old team and recruits a new one. His new mission is to go after Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) who is a vicious arms dealer, who wants to wipe out Barney and his team.
The only reason to watch this movie is to see all the action stunts and special effects whether by CGI or real and they are spectacular. No doubt about it.
Some may cite another reason: to see all the action hero stars in one place and most notable are: Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li and Randy Couture. Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammar also appear.
Newcomer Ronda Rousey as Luna, a former nightclub bouncer is actually quite good, beautiful too.
Antonio Banderas's character as Gaigo was meant as comic relief, but he was annoying and not funny. The best performance was by Mel Gibson as Stonebanks as he put the much needed drama into this.
A downside I saw was the forced banter whereby they all ragged on each other at times. The banter was lame, not funny and I expected better.
The CGI and special effects win hands down. The editing was spot on. Kudos. Watch for the Action stunts via CGI or otherwise.
Because Jet Li did not do any fighting in here I suspect he will be somewhat prominent in Expendables 4, if there is a 4. I'm just saying. Okay, maybe not. (5/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: One F-bomb, the rest was soft stuff and not much of it.
A Most Wanted Man (2014)
A Slow Roll, but a Masterpiece
Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) runs an off-the-books spy unit. His unit exists to do things the German government is not allowed to do by law. Things come to a head, sort of, when Chechen Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) comes on the scene to claim his father's fortune. Who is this most wanted man and is he telling the truth? Is he a victim or terrorist? What will he do with the money? Inquiring minds um spies are concerned. Now all the spy agencies come to life to find out. Gunther is very wary of the other spy agencies and doesn't trust them.
Now, don't get excited as this is going to be a slow roll from a novel by John Le Carre whose story will be a thinking man's spy story. Forget all about Jason Bourne type characters, car chases, multiple shootings, explosions, unbelievable CGI and thrills in any sense of the word. This is not a thriller you may be used to. This is a thriller for those who do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, maybe chess, Jumble (oh no, not Jumble as anyone can do that), cyphers ..and well, you get the idea. Just so you understand: this is not a thriller. This is an onion of a story. See?
However, the promos seem to indicate this is a fast moving story. HA ! Not so. I am not saying this is bad. It's not. It is a masterpiece, a very good, well acted and well told story.
The acting is top notch. What's not to like? We have notables: Willem Dafoe as Tommy Brue - a banker, Robin Wright as Martha Sullivan - a top CIA agent, and Rachael McAdams as Annabel - the lawyer for Issa, Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) – a philanthropist, and of course, Philip Seymour Hoffman who is at the very top of his game in here. He speaks with a German accent and it is just right. The remaining support cast - while not as well known - are very good. .
Here is the key you have been looking for: You need to pay attention all the way. Everything is on the Down-Low. Know where your popcorn and drink are. Don't look away or you will, most certainly miss something. Hey, it's a John Le Carre story so know who you are dealing with. The pace is slow, but it is just right, and engaging if you follow along as you should. I was blown away.
The ending may surprise you. I was surprised. (10/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes. Some F-bombs in the beginning and some at the end.
The Prince (2014)
Paul (Jason Patric), a retired hit-man gets a notice from the school that Beth (Gia Mantegna) his daughter is supposed to be attending that she has not shown up for a while and may have dropped out. His wife died years ago. He finds Angela (Jessica Lowndes) Beth's friend and she tells him that Beth had hooked up with a guy who is into drugs and they may be in New Orleans. He and Angela go there.
This is okay, but this is a Jason Patric show. Bruce Willis as Omar and John Cusack as Sam have limited roles and they perform well. There is a history with Paul and Sam as they ran together back in the day. When Paul was a hit-man, he made a mistake with Omar and now Omar wants revenge. 50 Cent makes a short appearance as The Pharmacy (drugs, you know).
I thought this would be like Mel Gibson, (he still around?), Liam Neeson or Clive Owen characters when a family member is kidnapped, but we don't see the same emotions in Paul as in those three. Still, this is okay. I would expect to see Jason Patric in similar type roles in the future. He is as good as those above or even as a Jason Bourne (where is he?) character.
You will discover who The Prince is.
The second half is mostly all action with bullets flying everywhere. I'd be a rich person if I had the brass contract for this movie. HA! (5/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes.
Million Dollar Arm (2014)
Touching, Smart, Friendly and Real
This is based upon a true story.
Big time Sports Agent JB (Jon Hamm) needs to secure his position in the overall sports arena and things are not going well at present. He decides to go to India to get Cricket Players and train them to be professional baseball players. Later he learns he didn't get Cricket Players, but he finds two who have the talent to help him and he is determined to make it work.
I had no idea this was a true story. Never heard of such a thing, but I don't follow baseball anymore due to the steroids/drugs scandals. But, somehow I am sure I still would have heard of this story. Didn't happen.
Onward: The 2-India players: Denish Patel (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) know very little English and there some funny, amusing things happen when they go to the United States. Of course, all doesn't go as planned, there are disappointments, some stress, and later a second chance. So there is hope. Why make the movie if there wasn't hope, right? That is why I watch. You?
Onward: Bill Paxton as Tom House, the pitching coach and Alan Arkin as Ray Poitevint a retired major league scout give excellent performances. The acting all around is very good.
Onward: we spend some time in India trying out hopefuls. Yes, we do see the Taj Mahal, heavy, heavy traffic, and a lot of excitement regarding the tryouts. Then off to the United States where the real training begins.
There will be sub-titles until Denish and Rinku learn some English. The music is toe-tapping good.
This is a good production: smart, touching, friendly and quite real. There could have been a little more humor in here with Denish and Rinku being exposed to Western ideas, food and technology (you always think that humor is most helpful).
We really never know that when we see a True Story if everything is really true, but suffice it to say - from other accounts - this appears to be the real deal.
If you want to know more about Denish and Rinku, go to Wikipedia and look them up.
When the credits roll at the end, you will see pictures of the real Denish and Rinku. Quite good too.
If I had been a Pittsburgh Pirate fan I would have known about this true story. HA! (7/10)
Violence: No. Sex: No.
Nudity: No. Language: No.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Thoroughly Enjoyable. Houston: We have another Ground Hog Day: War this time.
Army officer Major Cage (Tom Cruise) is sent to the front lines in the war with aliens. He kills an Alpha Alien and something happens: his blood is linked to that Alpha who is linked to the Mother Alpha and she (?) has the ability to change time. Each time he dies he comes back. Later he is hooked up with Rita (Emily Blunt) and together they must find a way to kill the Alpha Mother to end the war.
One thing about a Tom Cruise movie: he and the movie he is in never disappoint. This is a good Sci-Fi movie, great CGI, other action scenes, great dialogues and you will find a lot of humor all the way through in this pretty serious war movie.
You needed everything in the first paragraph above just in case you miss some things as the scenes move along pretty fast. You're welcome.
Yes, there is a fallacy in here which is to say other soldiers may also kill an Alpha Alien and then have a Ground Hog Day scenario, but here, we are only dealing with Major Cage and his Ground Hog Day escapades. See?
One downside is that 20-minutes before the end of the movie you will experience almost completely very dark scenes and you cannot see what is going on, but you know what needs to be done so don't be alarmed that you feel you missed something. You won't.
Did I mention that there is a lot of humor in here? Oh! Very enjoyable. (9/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Brief Soft Stuff in the beginning.
Light Drama. Not Funny. Watchable
Carl (Jon Favreau) a renown Chef quits his job because Ramsey (Oliver Platt) a food critic gave Carl a bad review for cooking – against his instincts - Riva's (Dustin Hoffman) menu. He decides to refit a truck and cook on wheels. Carl is divorced but is friendly with ex-wife Inez (Sofie Vergara), but he needs to bond with Percy (Emjay Anthony) his son.
This is a pretty good made-for-TV movie where nothing happens. It's bland, a slice of life light drama. No funny lines, no funny skits. Nothing is overdone. Fairly good acting all around. Like I said a slice of life that could happen to anyone.
Some may call this a feel good movie because all hinges on success with the food truck and Carl bonding with Percy. I suppose that could all be true, but it would have been a lot better if there were some funny lines, or even a funny slap-stick skit. Jon Favreau is a good actor, but should get someone else to do the writing especially if he wants to put some funny things in there. He wrote this. See what I mean? Please don't tell me he used to do Stand-Up (he did Improv early on).
Some of the music was spot on. The photography and cinematography in New Orleans and Texas were very good. Kudos.
Some support cast members who had very short scenes: Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey, Jr, Again, the big names drew me in. One day I will learn (you always say that).
Again, bland, not funny, a slice of life that normal people live most of the time. Watchable, but definitely not a Comedy. A good made-for-TV movie. (5/10)
Violence: No. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Some references to sexual parts. Yes. Language: One F-bomb by Dustin Hoffman's character
Script needed work
10-years ago five pulled off a robbery. Four got caught and went to prison. The 5th got away with the $10-million. Now the Four have completed their sentences and go after that 5th person. The twist is that the 5th person cannot remember where he put the money. Of course, the Four don't believe him.
John-Claude Van Damme is the top name in here, but he doesn't have much to do, actually hardly anything. His name is here to draw us in. I bit. This story is really about Bishop (Lennie James) who is now the Sheriff in Butler a town outside Las Vegas, Nevada. He is that 5th person, and we are led to believe he really doesn't know where he hid the $10-million. We know he is the 5th man because we see him in flashbacks as part of that robbery years ago.
This takes too long to become interesting. No one really stands out. Bishop comes the closest, but we see that Cole (Grant Bowler) appears to be the leader of the Four, but he fizzles too quickly until the last 10-minutes. The main guy was supposed to be Stillman (Van Damme) but he just sat around and didn't say much at all. He wasn't "the guy."
I think the main problem with this movie is that too much screen time was spread around too evenly and we were at a loss to decide who to key in on. See? But, we still went with Bishop as the main guy. There should have been some cat and mouse stuff between the Four and Bishop. This was like a short story made into a full length novel and there really was no place to go. The plot was a very simple one and there wasn't much material for a full length movie. See?
The script needed work and no one took the time to make it right. The acting all around is good with the supporting cast including Josh Henderson and Alfred Molina, but the last 10-minutes is all the movie you needed to see. Everything before that was slow and boring with quickie scenes that sometimes seemed to be unrelated to the main job of getting to Bishop. It all took too long.
Oh, you will find out where Bishop hid the money.
And, another thing: when you see a movie with a goofy title as Swelter, stay away. (3/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes.
The Signal (2014)
Frustrating Story, but Compelling Photography
Computer geeks Nic (Thwaites), Haley (Cooke) and Jonah (Knapp) follow a signal to find out why it is being sent to them. They hop in a car, find the house where the signal originated from and then everything goes dark. Here you expect some sort of horror story to take over, but this doesn't happen. Nic wakes up in a hospital, well, sort of. What happened? Inquiring Minds are at a loss.
This is the type of movie for Sci-Fi people who like to make up their own minds as to what happened and why. In other words you are not going to get many answers and you have to figure those out for yourself. Cool, eh?
Well, not really. Actually, I found it downright frustrating. I stayed with it because the photography was so compelling I couldn't shut it down. I don't know if Kodak, or Fuji film was used, but no matter because it was very pleasing to the eye and the Director of Photography surely knew how to use it. Extremely good. Kudos.
Back to the story, um, your story because it is up to you to figure things out. You will be shown some things at the end and you may have already figured those things out. I did, but wasn't prepared for the sights you will eventually see.
The cast are unknowns (except for Fishburne, of course), but get used to their names because they were very good. And, Olivia Cooke is kind of hot, too, and that helps.
This is not for everyone as you may surmise from what I mentioned above. This is for hard-core Sci-Fi fans who like to make up their own minds. Good luck with that. (5/10)
Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Brief soft stuff.