Entertainment

“Enough Said”

October 6th, 2013 at 10:58 am by under A Look at the Movies

Four-Star

Rated PG-13

1 hour 35 minutes

James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Catherine Keener

Let me tell you the difference between a TV style soap opera and realistic middle aged romantic yearnings, that you’ll find in the sweetly sensitive love story called “Enough Said”.

It’s the late James Gandolfini’s last movie and he gave a touching performance in his final role.

Gandolfini’s a divorced guy looking for love in the direction of divorcee Julia Louis-Dreyfuss.

Only those two just don’t know it yet.

But their chemistry helps nurture the mutual attraction filling each other’s needs, but the picture’s got a dark streak, Julia’s a busybody and she’s not very diplomatic.

Little did Julia realize that striking up a friendship with Catherine Keener, who is wonderful as ever as Gandolfini’s ex-wife, was the worst thing she could do, especially when she finds out her lack of candor put her romance in a very precarious position.

“Enough Said” is a class act made especially for an audience that understands and appreciates what’s going on between these two.

“Enough Said” will charm you, delight you and arouse all the honest emotions that makes that movie special enough to stand out with four stars.

What more can I say except, “Enough Said’.


“Don Jon”

October 5th, 2013 at 7:46 am by under A Look at the Movies

Two_Star

Rated R

1 hour 30 minutes

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johnansson, Julianne Moore

Beware of one word movie reviews that promote the film “Don Jon” with superlatives like smart and edgy, or you’re liable to be as disappointed with “Don Jon” as I am.

This obnoxious sex comedy is about a jerk whose passion for pornography interferes with his love life. Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t just play the title role, he also directed and dreamed up “Don Jon” as a loser with dysfunctional priorities.

Gordon-Levitt went overboard trying to make a satire out of the aimless condition of young manhood in modern America.

Scarlett Johansson’s character certainly sees herself as the epitome of young American womanhood, one who’s not in the habit of mincing words.

We get to meet “Don Jon’s” TV sitcom style family and get a glimpse of his shoddy lifestyle. But nothing of a compelling reason for the ads to describe “Don Jon” as smart and edgy.

Sleazy, yes, describing Don Jon’s sick obsession with porn, putting his relationship at risk.

I want to know if the authors of those one word reviews ever actually watched this movie from start to finish.

Gordon-Levitt’s vision is flawed and so is “Don Jon”. It’s a pretentious fantasy for adolescents, and as such, gets just what it deserves with two stars. Not exactly smart and edgy.


“Rush”

September 29th, 2013 at 1:16 pm by under A Look at the Movies

Three-Star

Rated R

2 hours 5 minutes

Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde

Revve up your engines for “Rush”, Ron Howard’s super charged racing car drama. Two legendary drivers never let their rivalry interfere with their mutual respect. “Rush” is a deeply felt glimpse into what motivates these characters. They’re pursuing the same goal, perfection behind the wheels in their own way.

Dramatically the fine German actor Daniel Bruhl gives a fiery performance that completely overshadows the shallow Chris Hemsworth, whose just not in the same league as an actor.

Bruhl just can’t conceal his emotions, and you’ll marvel at the Intensity of his performance.

The thrilling racing scenes, so brilliantly orchestrated, are as realistic and nerve wracking as any ever brought to the screen.

But it’s the drivers’ psychological warfare on and off the truck that the true test of Ron Howard’s remarkable Directing skill.

Actually “Rush is less about racing that It is about the passions that drive adversaries over the edge. I’ve never seen a Ron Howard movie I didn’t enjoy, and “Rush” is in no danger of becoming the first. “Rush” crosses the finish line with three stars. This film is a worthy addition to your list of fall movies that you don’t want to miss..


“Thanks For Sharing”

September 28th, 2013 at 10:32 am by under A Look at the Movies

Three-Star

Rated R

1 hour 40 minutes

Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad

I’m told that just like a recovering alcoholic, a guy taking the cure for sex addiction is also liable to fall off the wagon.

I’m talking about that quirky comedy “Thanks For Sharing”. How does Mark Ruffalo convince Gwyneth Paltrow that he actually suffers from sex addiction? She wonders if it’s a scam,  Something guys tell their wives or girlfriends when they’re caught cheating.

“Thanks For Sharing” starts off as a lighthearted comedy, before working its way into a darker, far more moody place.

With Ruffalo’s mania for keeping secrets and Paltrow’s insecure need to know, it’s just a matter of time before their relationship runs into friction.

As if one recovering sex addict wasn’t enough, the eccentric Jack Black look alike Josh Gad hooks up with an unlikely soul mate, pop star “Pink”, in her first acting role.

What a surprise! This odd couple actually generates some off-beat chemistry along with a fair amount of laughs. You’ll be thinking, now this is different.

You’ll be saying “Thanks For Sharing” if this is your style of comedy. “Thanks For Sharing” is often strikingly original trying to balance its humor with heart tugging sensitivity.

And by the time the final credits start rolling across the screen, I hope you’ll be saying Becker’s got the right idea, this picture’s good enough for three stars.

Like I said, if it’s your style of comedy.


“Prisoners”

September 22nd, 2013 at 10:47 am by under A Look at the Movies

Four-Star

Rated R

2 hours 25 minutes

Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano

If you need a strong jolt of Adrenaline to keep you pinned to your movie seat, let me recommend joining the search for “Prisoners”.

Two families are thrown into a frantic frenzy when their children suddenly disappear. We feel their fears thanks to Hugh Jackman’s extraordinary performance of a lifetime.

Never before has stormy weather been so skillfully integrated into a suspense building mechanism.

Jackman’s positive the developmentally disabled young suspect kidnapped the children.

Detective Jake Gyllenhaal remains skeptical how that’s even possible. A word of warning about the excessive brutality that’s definitely not for the squeamish and the faint of heart.

The intensity of the acting and the directing are only matched by the intelligence of the script.

If you’re having trouble catching your breath, just remember, everyone else in the theater is having the same problem.

I’m sorry “Prisoners” takes so much out of you, but don’t expect any relief during the relentless two and a half hour mystery thriller.

“Prisoners” takes no prisoner on its way to a stellar four stars. It’s the most gripping film you’ll see this year, and for that matter, any other year.


“The Family”

September 21st, 2013 at 11:36 am by under A Look at the Movies

Three-Star

Rated R

2 hours

Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones

It’s been proven that the witness protection program only works when the protected Mobsters fit in with their new surroundings.

Thankfully for “The Family”, Robert DeNiro’s the same dysfunctional sociopath no matter where “The Family” goes.

DeNiro’s precocious teenagers must have also inherited their dad’s mob mentality. Not the best way to keep a low profile in their new French hideaway. Wife Michelle Pfeiffer thinks DeNiro really should tone down his violent tendencies.

DeNiro almost killed the only plumber in town for “ripping him off”. Unlike “The Family” which eagerly gives you you’re money’s worth.

Michelle Pfeiffer has never been better and the dark humor blends right in with the sudden shift into violent melodramatics. Which in less capable directing hands than Luc Besson, might have upset the tone of the film altogether.

I’m only disappointed that Tommy Lee Jones as “The Family’s” FBI protector wasn’t given a more substantial role.

And “The Family” even manages to sneak in some hilarious Gangster film satire. You can tell DeNiro was having fun spoofing characters he had played for dead seriousness in his younger days.

I’d have to go into hiding if I denied “The Family” a well justified three stars.

You’ll be wise to catch up with “The Family”.


“Insidious Chapter 2″

September 15th, 2013 at 11:03 am by under A Look at the Movies

Two_Star

Rated PG-13

1 hour 40 minute

Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey

I can still feel the chills from the first “Insidious” movie a few years. Now that was a good thriller, but unfortunately too few of the original shocks and shudders carried over to the sequel.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are still battling those evil spirits, which just don’t seem quite as terrifying this time.

With doors regularly slamming shut to remind us their home is under the spell of some really nasty spirits, the cursed family realizes they’re not alone. Even their family friend of a Ghostbuster checks out of the film during the first reel, just to prove the evil spirits that photograph well are not to be trifled with.

Oh yes, “Insidious chapter 2″ spent too much time rationalizing the supernatural misdeeds and not enough time scaring the bejabbers out of its audience, who came for just one thing, to be scared out of their wits, not for a lesson in Paranormal communications from the other side.

We’ve learned by now that even in the spirit world, the sequel is rarely as good as the original.

That’s why “Insidious, Chapter 2″ can conjure up only two stars.

For lack of excitement, the spirits were clearly restless and frankly so was the audience.


“Riddick”

September 14th, 2013 at 11:07 am by under A Look at the Movies

 One Star

Rated R

2 hours

Vin Diesel

I remember the night I saw “Riddick”. You could feel the disappointment when Vin Diesel fans filed out of the theater quickly and quietly. They had spent two terrible hours watching “Riddick”.

You can avoid that experience simply by staying as far away as possible from this tacky science fiction adventure.

Diesel’s the Interplanetary Outlaw taken prisoner by a post apocalyptic posse. Diesel’s defiant, and why not? The sloppy script would upset anyone.

Diesel’s character is more durable than you might imagine. He survived the two earlier “Riddick” adventures. I’m dumbfounded anyone wanted a second sequel. I certainly wasn’t clamoring for another rehash.

Since the filmmaker probably knew that “Riddick” couldn’t even please Vin Diesel diehards, he spent a little as possible bringing this cheaply made Turkey to the screen. And believe me, It looks cheap, slapped together quickly with all the tell tale signs of having no value to anyone.

Unlike much better movies the studios release to the theaters, they merely dumped “Riddick” into movie houses and hoped for the best.

And the best “Riddick” deserves can be summed up with one star. Whoever said some of the worst movies come out this time of the year certainly knew what they were talking about.


“Getaway”

September 8th, 2013 at 10:46 am by under A Look at the Movies

One Star

Rated PG-13

1 hour 35 minutes

Ethan Hawke, Jon Voight, Selena Gomez

Let’s not mince words. If there’s a crummier movie this year than “Getaway”, I somehow must have missed it.

Ethan Hawke spends the entire repetitious film daredevil driving non-stop in a supped up sports car through the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria with assassins in hot pursuit.

And of course, he’s doing it against his will, to humor his wife’s kidnapper.

You too will scream bloody murder at having thrown out ten dollars to see this Turkey. Hawke’s every move’s being orchestrated by the unseen menacing maniac Jon Voight, who wisely tried hiding his identity behind a phony European accent.

Selena Gomez comes along for the joyride, proving nothing is too ludicrous for “Getaway”. Misery does love company. How does Hawke manage to run roughshod through the Bulgarian capital city on one tank of gas? Leaving moviegoers to choke on the fumes of this utter nonsense?

“Getaway” proves that even a savvy actor like Ethan Hawke can be a rotten judge of movies.

And only because we don’t have a graphic depicting no stars, I’m forced to give “Getaway” much more than this awful film deserved, with one star.

“Getaway” is the kind of movie that ought to be locked away.


“Closed Circuit”

September 7th, 2013 at 10:59 am by under A Look at the Movies

Three-Star

Rated R

1 hour 40 minutes

Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent

The lawyers defending a terrorist bomber in a British courtroom could be playing a dangerous game. Especially since the mass murderer has connections with the secret service.

From there, “Closed Circuit unfolds into a gripping legal thriller. There’s even more tension since defense attorneys Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall are former lovers.

Secret meetings in the shadows keeps bringing together pieces to the baffling puzzle as to who and why.

Bana sees himself as clearly in danger. Anyone even a harmless looking cab driver can be tracking his every move.

The picture thrives on mysterious characters, whose cryptic words only compound the uncertainties. Bana is definitely in way over his head.

There’s nothing subtle about the threats. Rebecca is, as the British would say, made of sterner stuff than Bana, but she would definitely like to survive to the end of the movie.

The British do these cloak and dagger thrillers so well, and they’ve got the stylish character actors to make it all work convincingly.

No wonder the jury of satisfied moviegoers finds “Closed Circuit” exciting with a verdict of three stars. “Closed Circuit” is everything a good suspense thriller should be.