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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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From the Last 25 Years


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#1 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 10:31 PM

X-Men: Apocalypse - And yet another overblown mess of a superhero movie, this the third part in the "reboot" of the Marvel series, from director Bryan Singer. Set in 1983, the story concerns an ancient, extremely powerful mutant named Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who has been trapped since the time of the Ancient Egyptian empires. When he is released, he is determined to once again subjugate mankind, so he sets out to recruit minions to help in his quest, his Four Horsemen: Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and a newly enraged Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Meanwhile, Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) continues to teach young mutants at his private school, and many of the students must band together to stop Apocalypse, including returning characters Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters), as well as new additions Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Also featuring Rose Byrne, Lucas Till, Zeljko Ivanek, Lana Condor, Josh Helman, Ally Sheedy, Tomas Lemarquis, and Hugh Jackman.

 

Overstuffed with too many characters and not enough character development, this movie lives up to many of the worst stereotypes of the genre: a plot that's both thin and impenetrable, too many names for the uninitiated to keep up with, and large stretches of CGI overload. Fassbender gets to be emotional, while McAvoy finally loses his hair. Evan Peters gets another stand-out scene as the super-fast Quicksilver, much like in the last film. None of the new cast, among which are some good actors, really stand out, and the casting of Isaac as the villain seems pointless, as he's buried under makeup and even his voice is unrecognizably altered. Plus, his Apocalypse character is rather ill-defined, seemingly capable of whatever the script needs him to be capable of given the scene (to be fair, this was true of many of the X-Men villains in the comic books, as well). One of the characters in this movie makes the comment, when discussing film series, that "the third one is always the worst". You have to wonder how self-aware the filmmakers were.    5/10

 

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#2 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 07:49 PM

Passengers - Another big budget flop, this time a science fiction romance from director Morten Tyldum and writer Jon Spaihts. In some distant far future (but not so far that the people don't still talk exactly like they do now), a giant spaceship is journeying across the galaxy, having left Earth for a new colony world. The fully-automated ship has 230~ crew members and 5000 colonists in hibernation for the duration of the 120~ year flight. After a close call with an asteroid, the ship has a slight malfunction, awakening one of the colonists, engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt). Jim is horrified to learn that it is only twentysomething years into the journey, and that there are over 90 years left, meaning that he will die on the ship long before the journey is over or the other passengers are awakened. He tries to make the best of his situation, but after he's tried every possible means to rectify his situation, he gives into temptation and awakens another passenger, writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). He tells her that her awakening was an accident too, and the two begin to form a bond over their shared isolation, but how long can it last? And why do the ship's lights keep flickering? Also featuring Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia.

 

This was savaged by critics, but I didn't think it was that bad. The two leads are likable and their situation is logically explored. If it gets shamelessly manipulative in the final act, I can only say that I find most romances do as well, so it wasn't a big problem for me. The production design and effects are very good. It's rather a small story, two people in and out of love, but given a $100 million sheen. The movie earned two Oscar nominations, for Best Production Design and Best Score (Thomas Newman).   7/10

 

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#3 LawrenceA

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Posted Yesterday, 02:35 PM

Warcraft - Mega-budgeted flop adaptation of the High Fantasy video game series. The orcs, a race of 8-foot tall, massively-muscled brutes, have been corrupted by an evil magical energy, and are being led by the sorcerer Gul'dan (Voice of Daniel Wu) through a mystical portal to the world of Azeroth. This impending invasion is brought to the attention of Azeroth's human King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) by former mage-in-training Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer). The king orders Khadgar to accompany the greatest of human warriors, Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), to find Medivh (Ben Foster), the magical Guardian of the realm, in hopes of discovering a way to stop the orcs. The humans find unlikely allies in the half-human/half-orc Garona (Paula Patton), and the orc Durotan (V: Toby Kebbell), chieftan of the Frostwolf clan of orcs who have not yet been corrupted by the "fel" magic. Also featuring Ruth Negga, Callum Keith Rennie, Ryan Robbins, and the voices of Clancy Brown, Robert Kazinsky, and Anna Galvin.

 

World of Warcraft, the online role-playing video game that inspired this movie, is the most successful entertainment property of any sort of all time. Outside of the cost of buying the actual game and all of its periodic supplements, players also pay a monthly fee, and have the option of buying items in game for real-world money. This business model has earned the game's makers hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 12 years, and this was after a highly successful line of strategy computer games that came even before the online game. I bring all of this up to illustrate how inevitable a film version was, and what an odd decision it was by the filmmakers to go back to the very first of the strategy games for the film's plot, rather the story from the online game that hundreds of millions have played around the world. The online game is well-known for its wide variety of character types to choose from, as well as numerous races. However, in this movie version, the characters are almost entirely humans and orcs. I'm sure the plan was to lay the groundwork with something relatively simple, and then add the others races as the inevitable film series progressed. But since this was largely a flop (more on that later), that's not likely to happen. Fans of the games will have to settle for a couple of brief moments with a few Dwarves, one scene each with background Night Elves and Draenei, and none for the Gnomes, Trolls, Tauren, Blood Elves or the very popular Undead.

 

The film's story is filled with fantasy mumbo-jumbo that is likely to enter one's ear and exit the other. The effects are very well done, and the visual aesthetic adheres closely to the games. The CGI, motion-capture orcs are rendered effectively, is often a bit busy, visually speaking. Paula Patton looks a little silly in her green skin makeup and protruding teeth, and Ben Foster gets to ham it up as the powerful boss wizard. Fimmel, Cooper, and especially Schnetzer make for dull heroes, though. As this was intended to be a series, the ending is left very open, with only a small bit of closure. This was a huge box-office disappointment in the US, one of the biggest flops of the year, but it was a massive hit in the Asian markets, so much so that a sequel was briefly discussed. Alas, it's not likely to be, which is disappointing, really, because the game series has perhaps the richest library of lore from which to drawn screenplays.   6/10

 

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#4 LawrenceA

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 11:36 PM

Triple 9 - Complicated crime drama from director John Hillcoat and writer Matt Cook. Ex-military contractor Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his former co-worker Gabe (Aaron Paul) plan a high-profile bank robbery in Atlanta. Michael and Gabe recruit a trio of dirty cops, including Gabe's brother Russell (Norman Reedus), Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Marcus (Anthony Mackie). Michael has an ulterior motive for the robbery, though: his ex-wife Elena (Gal Gadot) has taken their young son and gone to live with Elena's sister Irina (Kate Winslet), the wife of a Russian mob boss. Irina is basically holding Michael's son as ransom, and so Michael has to do her bidding. Detective Allen (Woody Harrelson) is assigned the robbery case, which makes the crew nervous, as does Marcus's new partner Chris (Casey Affleck), who just happens to be Det. Allen's nephew. Also featuring Teresa Palmer, Michelle Ang, and Michael K. Williams.

 

It takes a while to figure out who the characters are, and what each is after, and with the additional double-crosses, the script has a tough time building any character empathy. I'm still not entirely sure how some characters knew others. The film goes for a gritty "street" feel, but only partially succeeds. The performances are decent, although Winslet's Russian mob wife is a bit much, and Harrelson wears ill-fitting fake teeth for some reason. This sounded a lot better on paper, with a director I like and a tremendous cast that's done some great work in the past. Unfortunately, despite the right ingredients, the end result isn't very appetizing.    6/10

 

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#5 LawrenceA

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 08:54 PM

Suicide Squad - Another big mess of a superhero movie from Warner Brothers, based on the DC Comics series. US government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) forms Task Force X aka the Suicide Squad, a clandestine team of special operatives comprised of incarcerated super-villains and a few "good guys" to handle them. The members are Deadshot (Will Smith), an assassin and expert marksman; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), an unpredictable psychotic acrobat; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), an Aussie thief with a variety of trick boomerangs; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a cannibalistic monster with scaled skin; and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a former gang member with the power to control fire. To watch over these felons in the field, Waller assigns Special Forces commando Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and Japanese swordfighter Katana (Karen Fukuhara). The team gets dispatched to Midway City when an agent of Waller's, the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) goes rogue, transforming citizens into monstrous soldiers and building a weapon with which to destroy the world. Can the Squad work together long enough to take out the supernatural menace, or will their anti-social tendencies be the death of humanity? Meanwhile, Harley Quinn's beloved, the Joker (Jared Leto) works behind the scenes to rescue her, adding even more jeopardy for all involved. Also featuring Scott Eastwood, Ike Barinholtz, Adam Beach, David Harbour, Common, Ezra Miller as the Flash, and Ben Affleck as Batman.

 

I was a fan of this comic book, the last one that read regularly, over 25 years ago. I enjoyed the idea of a team of super-villains reluctantly working together, with many of the rotating membership getting killed off or leaving after an assignment. It made for a colorful, unpredictable read. So I knew as soon as this was being cast that this would be a disappointment. The central figure of Deadshot was always presented as a poker-faced man of very few words, often amusing in a Buster Keaton way, the calm in the middle of the storm. Casting wisecracking Will Smith completely contradicts the character and removes what made him interesting. That aside, some of the other casting works. I ended up enjoying Robbie as Harley Quinn quite a bit, and Davis was a perfect choice for the amoral Waller. The visual aesthetic of the film, all grimy and dirty, filled with people with piercings, bad haircuts, dirty thrift-store costumes, and an overabundance of facial tattoos, seems like it's trying too hard to be "cool". Jared Leto's much publicized role as the Joker is the worst example, all chrome dental work and self-aware body-ink, the Clown Prince of Crime re-imagined as a nightclub pimp.

 

The story is a jumble, with no tonal continuity and poor pacing. I did watch the Extended Edition, which added some 30-odd minutes of footage, so that may be the culprit, but from what I've read, the theatrical version got worse reviews. Director-writer David Ayer's love of macho posturing is often on display, with a lot of the film seeing like moments tailor-made for the trailer but not gelling into a cohesive or compelling narrative. The soundtrack is nearly all well-known pop, rock and hip-hop tunes, many ironically commenting on the onscreen action, although there is a generic action score that's heard occasionally. Despite the negative reviews, this made a lot of money, and a sequel is likely (Mel Gibson has been rumored to be the first director choice). This became one of the few films that received attention from both the Golden Raspberry Awards, where it was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor (Leto) and Worst Screenplay, as well as the Oscars, where it won the award for Best Makeup.       6/10

 

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#6 LawrenceA

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 02:18 PM

Swiss Army Man - Uniquely bizarre comedy/fantasy/existential examination of the human condition. Hank (Paul Dano) has been stranded on a tiny island out in the ocean for a long time. He's lost hope of rescue, and he's about to hang himself, when a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the shore. The slowly decaying body starts erupting in gaseous flatulence, and Hank discovers that the gas is strong enough to propel the body through the water like a jet ski. Hank uses the body to get to another beach, where he finds a cave to rest. Hank names the body Manny, and he's shocked when Manny starts to speak and exhibit other abilities, like vomiting geysers of potable water, snapping his rigor mortis-taut fingers so as to start fires, and more. The duo try to make the best of their situation, and Hank teaches Manny more about life. Also featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

 

Despite the outrageously ridiculous happenings, this is sincerely presented and surprisingly emotional. You're never quite sure if what you're seeing is a bizarre alternate reality or the working of Hank's disturbed mind. Dano is very good at playing sensitive outcasts, and he's excellent here. Radcliffe makes the most of his one-of-a-kind role, getting a lot of dialogue as the movie progresses. The film itself is frequently beautifully shot, with lovely seashore and woodland scenery. The score is as oddball as the script, frequently using an A capella rendition of the Jurassic Park score by John Williams. This is one I can guarantee you've seen nothing like. I enjoyed it.   7/10

 

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#7 LawrenceA

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 10:28 PM

Money Monster - Unfocused hostage drama that takes aim at a lot of targets but doesn't land any real shots. George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, a Jim Kramer-esque TV financial news host of the show Money Monster, known for his outrageous antics and gimmicky dances and catchphrases. After a stock crashes that Lee had recently recommended as a sure bet, Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a blue collar guy with a baby on the way, loses all of his meager savings. In an act of desperation, Kyle, armed with a gun and bombs, sneaks onto the set of Lee's show, which goes out live, and takes him hostage. Kyle demands that Lee explain what happened, while Lee's loyal producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) does what she can to keep everyone alive. Also starring Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West, Christopher Denham, Lenny Venito, Chris Bauer, John Ventimiglia, Dennis Boutsikaris, Emily Meade, and Giancarlo Esposito.

 

Director Jodie Foster, working off of a script by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, and Jim Kouf, tries keep things moving despite the largely set-bound action. The film wants to be critical of the financial markets, the 24 hour TV news cycle, the culpability of TV stock advisers to their viewers, and technology that no one really understands taking over more of our lives. Due to the many issues at play, and the relatively brief (under 100 minutes) running time, nothing really gets examined well enough, and the movie spends too much time with the conventional (and very tired) elements of a hostage thriller. Clooney doesn't really do much of note, and O'Connell lays on his New Yawk accent a bit thick, but Roberts is good as the in-charge producer.   6/10

 

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#8 LawrenceA

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 08:21 PM

The Neon Demon - Style-over-substance dream-like thriller (?) from director Nicolas Winding Refn. Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a new arrival in LA, having run away from home and her parents somewhere in the Midwest.  Her natural beauty and innocence makes her an immediate hit on the model circuit, attracting the attention of make-up girl Ruby (Jena Malone) and the animosity of fellow models Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee). As Jesse's status keeps rising, the sense of dread surrounding her grows. Also featuring Christina Hendricks, Desmond Harrington, Alessandro Nivola, Karl Glusman, and Keanu Reeves.

 

The film is an indictment on image consciousness in LA and the toll it takes physically and spiritually. The vivid, widescreen cinematography features a lot of neon lighting (naturally), stark sets, and vibrant color schemes. The soundtrack, largely electronic, is effective. The performances are good, with Malone a real standout. Reeves is also disconcerting in a small role as a brutish landlord. This won't be for most audiences, as it's more interested in mood than narrative, but I liked it.    7/10

 

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#9 CinemaInternational

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 07:21 PM

Robert Downey Jr. is such a strange case. He's a big star now, but Chaplin is still far and away his best work.....



#10 LawrenceA

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 06:11 PM

I've at least skimmed the whole thread and don't remember if you reviewed The Judge. I was a bit restless at times but in retrospect though it okay. Unhappily formulaic in another dysfunctional family depiction where things seem to get worse and worse as events are piecemeal revealed to us. My ignominious disclosure of the century is that I didn't know I was watching Robert Downy Jr. My celebrity quotient is about 6 although I seem to know that he was a bad boy or something. He's like that here POing everyone while trying to make up for it by becoming a hot shot city lawyer but fails in the one thing he seems to want the most, the approbation of his father. The subplot with the daughter a little tacked on. Robert Duvall keeps on going and seems to be very good no matter how long he lives.

 

I don't think I reviewed that on here, but I did talk about it on some other thread when I watched it. I had basically the same opinion on it as you. I was impressed with Duvall, and his willingness to do some of the more potentially embarrassing scenes.

 

Downey Jr. is an actor I sometimes like, sometimes not. In my discussion of this movie I described his personality as "manic pseudo-charming jerk", and it's one he uses most often, even in the Marvel movies where he plays Iron Man. He was a teen idol type actor in the 1980s, then gained a lot of critical praise for starring as Chaplin in 1992. His personal life took a nosedive right after, with severe drug and alcohol problems making him tabloid fodder and a frequent visitor to LA area jails. He had a few failed comebacks, followed by relapses, to the point where everyone was certain his career was over for good. Then, another rehab stint, and he appeared in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). He gained enough credibility back that Marvel took a chance with him as Iron Man, and he's been a big movie star ever since, although outside of the Marvel movies and the Sherlock Holmes movies, he hasn't done much impressive.


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#11 laffite

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 05:56 PM

I've at least skimmed the whole thread and don't remember if you reviewed The Judge. I was a bit restless at times but in retrospect though it okay. Unhappily formulaic in another dysfunctional family depiction where things seem to get worse and worse as events are piecemeal revealed to us. My ignominious disclosure of the century is that I didn't know I was watching Robert Downy Jr. My celebrity quotient is about 6 although I seem to know that he was a bad boy or something. He's like that here POing everyone while trying to make up for it by becoming a hot shot city lawyer but fails in the one thing he seems to want the most, the approbation of his father. The subplot with the daughter a little tacked on. Robert Duvall keeps on going and seems to be very good no matter how long he lives.



#12 LawrenceA

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 05:13 PM

Ouija: Origin of Evil - Quickie sequel/prequel to the surprise hit 2014 movie that's actually an improvement over the first. Set in 1967, the story follows single mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) who works as a spirit medium and fortune teller out of her home. She's aided by her two daughters, teenager Lina (Annalise Basso) and 9 year old Doris (Lulu Wilson). Their spirit readings are phony set-ups, but they feel they are doing by easing people's fears and grief concerning dead loved ones. Things change, though, when Alice brings home a Ouija board which seems to awaken genuine psychic medium abilities in young Doris. At first it seems like a gift, but soon Lina, as well as Father Tom (Henry Thomas) from their Catholic school, begin to suspect something more sinister is afoot. Also featuring Parker Mack, Halle Charlton, Doug Jones, John Prosky, and Sam Anderson.

 

The first film was a mess of ghost movie cliches and jump-scares that I ranked as one of the worst movies of the year. So I was very much surprised at how good this one was. The movie doesn't belabor the period setting, although there are a few costume touches. The performances by all involved are good, and there are some decent creepy and scary moments. The explanation in the last act about what's been causing everything is more than a little corny, though.   7/10

 

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#13 LawrenceA

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 01:51 PM

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Handsome, if hollow, adaptation of the surprise bestselling book mash-up. Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James) and her sisters are of marrying age, but Elizabeth's headstrong demeanor makes her an unlikely match. When she meets the disagreeable Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) she can't stand him, but eventually she starts to fall for him, with no indication that her feelings are reciprocated. She's also wooed by the stuffy Parson Collins (Matt Smith) and the dashing soldier George Wickham (Jack Huston), but all of these romantic entanglements may be moot, since the zombie plague that's been afflicting England for the past half century seems to be getting worse. Also featuring Bella Heathcote, Charles Dance, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, and Lena Headey.

 

The idea of sword-wielding, kung fu-fighting maidens lopping off rotting heads and blasting musket balls through zombie faces, all while pining for the proper marriage, is ridiculous and yet strangely compelling. The book caused a minor sensation back in 2009, and kickstarted a small trend of similar literary or historical horror mash-ups, such as Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was also adapted for the screen. I found that this movie worked better in Jane Austen sections than in the zombie/action moments, which were often poorly framed. The zombie lore is also tweaked a bit, as in this version those that are infected only slowly become rotted monsters after eating a certain amount of brains, thus zombies could be all around and one wouldn't know. I guess that creates more suspense, but it really just ended up being a way to have the main villain of the piece be a surprise revelation. The sets and costumes are all good, and the performances passable. If a little more care had been taken with the action scenes, I would have rated this higher.   6/10

 

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#14 LawrenceA

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:26 PM

Mechanic: Resurrection - Lackluster follow-up to the 2011 remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson action movie. Retired expert assassin Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is enjoying the quiet life in Brazil after faking his death at the end of the last movie when he's approached by people who know of his identity and want him to fulfill a contract, so he heads to another hideout, this one in Thailand. There he meets Gina (Jessica Alba) an American aid worker who promptly gets kidnapped by the same party wanting Bishop to come work for them. He reluctantly agrees, setting off around the world to kill three rivals of an arms dealer (Sam Hazeldine) in exchange for the safe return of Gina. Also featuring Michelle Yeoh, John Cenatiempo, Toby Eddington, Femi Elufowoju Jr., and Tommy Lee Jones.

 

The first film was actually pretty good, mainly for the dynamic between the reluctant veteran killer Statham and his protege Ben Foster. But with Foster not around this time, the movie becomes just another generic action thriller, with little to recommend it. Statham and Alba get to show off their beach bods, so there's that. Jones, who was the main reason I watched this, doesn't even appear until over an hour into it, and even then his role is one-note and unmemorable. He does get to saunter around in a garish silk bathrobe while wearing tinted granny glasses and sporting a wispy goatee, though.   5/10

 

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#15 LawrenceA

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 09:18 PM

Marauders - Minor crime drama about a gang of masked bank robbers terrorizing the streets of Cincinnati. FBI agents Montgomery (Christopher Meloni) and Stockwell (Dave Bautista) are on the case, which involves a shady police detective (Johnathan Schaech), a wide-eyed new FBI recruit (Adrian Grenier), and Hubert (Bruce Willis), the head of the bank chain that keeps getting robbed. Also featuring Lydia Hull, Tyler Jon Olson, Texas Battle, Ryan O'Nan, and Torrie Wilson.

 

Another lower-budget offering from Emmett/Furla and Grindstone Entertainment, this is a bit slicker looking than most of their other recent releases. A large part of the cast is carried over from this same year's Precious Cargo, but this one is a bit better, thanks to the additional cast. Both Meloni and Willis use their actual hair, with no hair-pieces or shaved heads. The movie doesn't really add up to much, but it wasn't a painful experience, either.    5/10

 

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#16 LawrenceA

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 07:33 PM

Rush: Time Stand Still - Combination concert/tour film and rock documentary look at the Canadian prog-rock trio Rush (Geddy Lee on bass/keys/vocals, Alex Lifeson on guitar, Neal Peart on drums). The movie briefly recounts the band's history and some highlights, such as their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as covering the group's singular fanbase. All of this is interspersed with footage from what would eventually become the band's final tour, as age and heath issues has made performing at the top of their game impossible. The film therefore has a bittersweet feel, although for the most part it's very upbeat and positive. It's a engaging look at the end of an era in rock music, and a real delight for fans.   7/10

 

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#17 LawrenceA

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:57 PM

Sully - Adequately filmed telling of the "Miracle on the Hudson", when US Airways Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) landed his disabled passenger jet in the Hudson river in NYC, saving the lives of all on board. The movie looks at the media frenzy after the event, the way NY embraced Sully as a hero, and the investigation into the event by the FAA and the airline. The actual events of the landing are shown a few times, from differing perspectives. Also featuring Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Jamey Sheridan, Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Jeff Kober, Molly Bernard, Ann Cusack, Molly Hagan, Sam Huntington, Christopher Curry, Autumn Reaser, Jeffrey Nordling, Jeremy Luke, Jerry Ferrera, and Michael Rapaport.

 

Director Clint Eastwood presents things plainly and unadorned. The film manufactures drama that wasn't existent in real life, with most of the events surrounding the investigation twisted to create more uncertainty and doubt as to Sully's competence. Hanks plays Sully with quiet dignity and reserve. However, I found the film dull, with the exception of the actual water landing, and the fictionalization of events speaks the lack of dramatic heft in the story itself. This received a single Oscar nomination, for Sound Editing.   6/10

 

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#18 LawrenceA

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:50 PM

The Trust - Average crime drama somewhat improved by inspired casting. Stone (Nicolas Cage) is a veteran Las Vegas police crime lab boss who's grown bored with the job. He recruits pot-smoking fellow lab worker Waters (Elijah Wood) to help him with a new project: a heist of unknown value but almost certain success. That "almost" is what always gets them, though, isn't it? Also featuring Ethan Suplee, Sky Ferreira, Steven Williams, and Jerry Lewis (yes, that Jerry Lewis).

 

The scope and tone of the film are low-key, and there's even little suspense through most of it. Wood seems like an odd choice for this kind of role, but he's good, and brings a different spin to the cliched proceedings. Cage stays within normal parameters through most of it, only going full "Cage" in one scene near the end. Comedy legend Lewis has two short scenes as Cage's dad. This movie won't garner much praise, but it's slightly better than most of Cage's recent outings.   5/10

 

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#19 LawrenceA

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 11:49 PM

Sausage Party - Ceaselessly crude animated comedy and existential examination of religion and the meaning of life. Unbeknownst to the human population of the world, the products in the grocery store are alive and sentient. They have no real concept of who they are or why they exist. Instead, they believe that humans are gods and that when they are chosen (purchased), the gods take them out of the store into the Great Beyond, a place of wonder and happiness where their dreams come true. When a jar of honey mustard is returned to the store after having been inside a god/human's home, he tries to warn them of their true fate: to be mercilessly devoured and/or mutilated and destroyed. After Frank the hot dog (voice of Seth Rogen) and Brenda the hot dog bun (v: Kristen Wiig) are accidentally lost inside the store, they begin an odyssey to make it back to their proper shelves, although Frank also wants to learn the truth about what the honey mustard said. Meanwhile, another hot dog from Frank's package, the deformed Barry (v: Michael Cera), tries to get back to the store after being taken home and learning the awful truth. Also featuring the voices of Edward Norton, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, David Krumholtz, Nick Kroll, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Anders Holm, Harland Williams, and Salma Hayek.

 

Once you accept the silly concept (if you can), the humor gets a bit sharper, especially when it starts to dissect the origins and purposes of religion and the consequences of loss of faith. However, it is a Seth Rogen project, so the script never misses a chance to make a sex joke, the filthier the better, as well as throwing in a smattering of pot humor. If the screenplay had been a bit more fine-tuned, this might have been something really memorable, and as it is, I still wouldn't be surprised to hear that it develops a cult following, but for me it falls a bit short.   6/10

 

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#20 LawrenceA

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:36 PM

Misconduct - Overly convoluted neo-noir stars Josh Duhamel as Ben Cahill, a Louisiana attorney whose wife Charlotte (Alice Eve) has recently had a miscarriage. Ben is also starting to get frustrated with his lack of advancement at his firm. Into his life comes Emily (Malin Akerman), a former college flame now engaged to billionaire pharmaceutical head Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins). Emily wants out of the relationship with Arthur, and she'll use Ben to do it, and to set it up so that she'll have plenty of money to use in her new life. Ben brings some compromising information on Arthur to his firm's boss, Charles Abrams (Al Pacino), who allows Ben to head the case against Arthur, which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, a shadowy figure (Byung-hun Lee) seems to be stalking them all. Also featuring Glen Powell, Marcus Lyle Brown, Chris Marquette, Leah McKendrick, and Julia Stiles.

 

This attempt at a dark, twisty noir with multiple characters and motivations is admirable, and it may have been something more memorable with a different director, a tighter script, and a few casting changes. As it is, though, it gets confusing (I'm still not entirely certain what some of the character's plans were) and the performances range from good (Akerman as the femme fatale, Lee as the mysterious stalker), bland (Duhamel, Eve), bored (Hopkins), or hokey (Pacino and his cringe-worthy accent). This was awarded the Barry L. Bumstead Award at the Golden Raspberries. I had to look that up to see what it was, and it's a new award (this was only its second year) given to a movie that deserves to be nominated but can't due to some rule ineligibility.    5/10

 

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