Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Parkland


Starring: Zac Efron, Billy Bob Thornton, & Paul Giamatti
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Based on Vincent Bugliosi's book, Four Days in November, the film Parkland chronicles the events following the assassination of JFK. What I liked about this film was how it tells a part of the story that isn't widely known. From the doctors at the hospital, working on the President, to the acquisition of the Zapruder film, Parkland goes behind the scenes to tell the untold story. I was also impressed with how the film managed to stick to the facts and not dwell on any of the conspiracy theories that surround the case. Zac Efron stars and really wasn't all that great. I think that Efron needs to stick to what he does best, taking his cloths off and making people laugh. While the film is kind of slow, I really enjoyed Paul Giamatti's portrayal of Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed the assassination. Zapruder really struggled with releasing the tape to the media and the events he witnessed ultimately destroyed his life. Giamatti's portrayal of the man is supposedly spot on and truly deserves an honor mention. Parkland gives us a lot of new information about the events that followed the assassination of President Kennedy, but a lot of it are things the general public really aren't that interested in learning about. For a Kennedy aficionado, this film must of been eye opening, as for the rest of us, it was an interesting, non-bias view of history, albeit a little boring.

Blue Bloods


Starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Tom Selleck, Amy Carlson, Tony Terraciano, Andrew Terraciano, Jennifer Esposito, Sami Gayle, & Nicholas Turturro

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The CBS hit show, Blue Bloods, manages to do something that rarely works in an episonic television series. The show blends two very distinctive genres and manages to dedicate an equal amount of time to both, without sacrificing quality. Yes, Blue Bloods is an action packed cop show, but it is also a compelling and touching family drama.

For sixty years, the Reagan family has dedicated itself to a life of civil service. It all started with Henry Reagan (Len Cariou) who worked his way up from a beat cop to the New York City Police Commissioner, a job his son, Frank (Tom Selleck) would eventually inherit. Frank's three kids are also heavily involved in the protection of New York City, as his son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), is a major case detective, his other son, Jamie (Will Estes), is a rookie officer, and his daughter, Erin (Bridget Moynahan), is an assistant district attorney.

Each week the Reagan's are faced with combating crime in New York City and every Sunday, they take their work home with them, and work out their issues over family dinner. The dinner is as important to each episode as the cases themselves. The family often touches on sensitive issues, and are divided on what the outcomes should be. 

Tom Selleck stars as Police Commissioner, Frank Reagan, and brings to the role over thirty years of experience playing a cop. Frank isn't Magnum P.I. or Jesse Stone, but Selleck has the experiences of being both those men, and he brings aspects of their personalities into this new role.

The other star of the show is Donnie Wahlberg, who while not as good looking as his brother, is much more experienced at playing a detective than Mark is. Donnie has been a cop on more than one occasion, most notably in the Saw franchise, and he gives one of the most believable and accurate portrayals of a detective, that I have ever seen.

Blue Bloods has all the action and drama of any cop show on TV, but it also has a soft, touching, family side to it as well. The cast is as experienced as it gets, and every episode prominently features every Reagan, dealing with their own issues on and off the job. It is as original as any cop show to come along in the last fifteen years, and needless to say I am hooked and highly recommend it.

After (2012)


Starring: Steven Strait & Karolina Wydra
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Late one night, a young man and a young women are taking the bus home. They are chatting and nothing seems out of the ordinary, until there is a big crash. Following the crash, they both wake up safe and sound in their own beds, but as they begin their day, they realize that they are completely alone in the town, and a dense fog is moving in on them. This film is centered on the premise of solving a mystery, what happened to these people and where is everyone else? The actors run around for an hour and a half trying to figure it out, because they are stupid. I had "the big secret" figured out, five minutes into the movie, and that's the problem. If you genuinely don't realize what's going on, and follow along with these two, you might really enjoy this film. If you're like me, however, you will see these two as dumb, and quickly get bored. Steven Strait and Karolina Wydra star and don't do a bad job, it's difficult to hold the audiences interest, when their are only two stars in the entire film, but they manage to do so admirably. Maybe I didn't like this movie as much as I should have or as much as others will, because I did have it all figured out early on. I didn't find the film to be bad, I just felt that it was very on the nose. The secret should have been revealed sooner and more of the film should have been dedicated to it's resolution, for those of us who did manage to figure it out.

Logan's Run (1976)


Starring: Michael York, Richard Jordan, & Jenny Agutter
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Science Fiction is inherently strange, and it seems like the further back you go, the stranger the movies are, perhaps none stranger than Logan's Run. This film is considered by many to be the one of the best science fiction films of all time, so I decide to watch it for the most recent classics review. My first impression, I've seen weird before, but Logan's Run goes way beyond that, to a point of incomprehensible. After a nuclear war, a group of citizens in what was once Washington D.C., live in a self-sustained domed city. Population control is a big problem, so the builders of the city have convinced the citizen's that at the age of 30, they must enter a device known as carrousel, which will decide if they should be renewed or eliminated, the only thing is, no one has ever been renewed. A group of citizens has figured this out and run from carrousel. They are hunted by a group of officers known as sandmen. Logan 5 (Michael York) is one these sandmen, who goes undercover to try to infiltrate the runners, As his time comes closer, Logan 5 realizes they're right and he joins them, hence the name Logan's Run. The premise here is ingenious and at first I thought I'd enjoy this film, but as it went on, the pace slowed, the quality deteriorated, and the story became ridiculous. For example, after exiting the cave, the worst looking robot I've ever seen, named Box, who looks like a child wearing a box, carries on for fifteen minutes about plankton from the sea, and at that point I almost turned it off. Michael York, better know from his Austin Powers fame, stars and is actually very good, (even though it is never explained why this British guy is in a D.C. city, surrounded by Americans). York was entertaining but the rest of the cast was not, in particular Jenny Agutter, who just complained and carried on the whole time. Farrah Fawcett also makes an appears in the film, in a role that amounts to little more than eye candy. In my opinion, she would have made a much more convincing Jessica. Logan's Run starts out as a terrific futuristic adventure and looks like it's going to earn every bit of acclaim it received, but as the film progresses, it just gets worse and worse to the point of being unwatchable.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Harry Brown


Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, & Ben Drew
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When an actor has had a career that spans six decades and includes hundreds of films, it's hard to choose a defining role. Even if you can choose just one performance, it's usual from way back when they were in their prime, but at seventy-six years old, Michael Caine proves that some things are just better with age. Caine is portraying Harry Brown, an lonely old man, who has recently lost his wife. All Brown has left is his best friend and a tiny apartment, but that changes when a group of thugs start reeking havoc on the neighborhood and slaughter his best friend. After that, something in Brown just snaps, and he turns to skills he learned in the army a lifetime ago. This isn't a film about some over the hill action star in the CIA, there is no weird twist, or strange background associated with Harry Brown. He is just a real person, dealing with a situation that people have to face every day in lower income neighborhoods. The gangs have taken over and no one is safe, especially the elderly, and that is very apparent in this film. Harry Brown is an action thriller, but it is also one of the realist movies I have ever seen. Every thing from the gangs activity to the way Harry goes about is life is as real as it gets, and it is truly frighting. Michael Caine stars and he doesn't have the moves, temperament, or even style of your typical action hero, yet somehow he's better than all of them combined. For Caine it's never been about brawn, it's about brains, and that's what he uses against a gang that's a third of his age. Critics raved about this film, while I avoided it, because I honestly couldn't see Michael Caine cleaning up his neighborhood and taking out thugs at his age. I was wrong, because Harry Brown is one of the best performances of his career. This film is just so realistic and clever, I never would have expected it to be the amazing experience that it was. This film really got to me and it includes one of the best performances I've ever seen. Harry Brown is a true gem of independent cinema, it is free of any Hollywood bull shit, and it is the reason people still go to the movies. Please take my advice and don't miss this one.

Felony (2013)


Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson, & Jai Courtney
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After the biggest drug bust of his career, veteran Detective, Malcolm Toohey (Joel Edgerton), enjoys a few drinks with friends before driving home. On the way, he barely clips a paperboy on his bike, but what should be a minor incident, becomes big trouble when the boy is badly hurt in the fall. Toohey calls the police, telling his fellow Detective, Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson), that he was driving home and found the boy laying there. Summer believes him and lets Toohey on his way, but his young partner, Jim Melic (Jai Courtney), doesn't believe the story and despite his bosses orders, refuses to let it go. The story here is pretty solid, the investigation and police work that go into it are very interesting to watch. Unfortunately, the movie isn't focused on that, as its mostly about Malcolm Toohey and his conscience. We watch as the man turns into a shell of his former self, as he struggles with what to do next. This should be an interesting sub-plot, but not the whole premises of the movie, as it slows things down tremendously. This film moves at such a snails pace, that the terrific and unexpected ending, become almost farcical. Joel Egerton is really terrific in his role, showing how one split second can change a persons life forever. The whole cast was really good and it's a shame that such talent was wasted. It's not that Felony is bad, it's just slow, and lacks the action a police drama should have. That being said, if you're into watching people battle their inner demons and fight their conscience, you might enjoy this film, but to me, it was somewhat boring.

88


Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Christopher Lloyd, & Michael Ironside
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

I've always said that previews can be deceiving, because it's the job of the people who make them, to make any film look good, even something as bad as 88. The story itself had promise, featuring a young woman named Gwen (Katharine Isabelle), who wakes up on the side of the road with amnesia and a gun. In those first five minutes, the film looks decent enough, but it's pretty much all downhill from there. The film is centered on Gwen and utilizes flashbacks, to show her life before the amnesia, and what cased the amnesia, but they don't stop there, as they go from the present to flashbacks on just about every character you meet. If that wasn't confusing enough, that's when the flash forwards begin and once that happen, I was completely lost. Every thing in this movie flashes at the speed of light. and it is impossible to know what the hell is going on! The casting for this film also seemed like a bad joke, as you've got a star, who seems to be a reject from the real housewives of the trailer park, being chased by Christopher Lloyd. At nearly 80 years old, the man who brought Doc Brown to life, is one of the bad ass gangsters this girl works for, is afraid of, is in love with, who knows? And that's the point, no one know because no one can follow this movie! 88 is just one bad trip, that's all over the place and features a cast that is way to old to be believable. I don't say it often, but there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie and you should most certainly avoid it!