Thursday, October 23, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW - The Best Of Me

Can we just stop now with all the Nicholas Sparks stuff?  Please?

This will be short and sweet.  If you've seen any Sparks novel/movie, you've seen them all.  We couldn't say that a few years ago, but we can now.  Truth be told, there is no reason on earth to see this, for the exception of a Michelle Monaghan sighting as she stars in this, and I'm a big fan of hers.  She doesn't make enough movies.

With that said, the kindness stops. This insipid flop of a romantic movie is just about all we can take.  For a few minor, and I mean minor exceptions this has the same characters, the same feel, the same basic plot line and the same - everything as every other Sparks book and movie. Heaven forbid Nick can you stray off the path even a little and attempt to give us something that even resembles remotely something original. 

Stop me if you've heard this one before.  She's a woman grown up who has married the wrong man, who's a jerk and she's unhappy.   He is a ridiculously good and good looking guy who looks good without a shirt who gave up on her 20 years ago.  She's married and unhappy.  He's never married and sullen.  They reunite accidentally. They rekindle the fires.  She cheats with him, it's OK though because it's Sparks.   But it can't be. She has to go back to her life!  Then one of them dies! Oh, the agony of it all! 

Oh yeah, it's told in flashback form, showing them when they were young and in love. Back and forth, back and forth.   You know the drill.  He's awkward, she's outgoing. She chases him, he's reluctant.  Then as adults, they constantly talk in whispers in romantic settings, and oh yeah, they've grown up to be amazingly beautiful perfect adults.  The whole thing just makes me want to puke!

Not the actual story line mind you.  I like a good romantic movie as much as anyone. But this is the same thing time after time!  Is it simply too much ask Sparky Ole Boy, that you give us something different at some time in your career?  Seriously, don't you have enough dough?  Have a little dignity to stop making the same exact movie and story time after time.  I know it has worked, but that train may be leaving the station, as this stiffed hard opening weekend to a 5th place finish. 

The Best Of Me.  Break out the air sick bag. Same of formula, same movie as always.  One of the years worst. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW - Fury

The new Brad Pitt WWII tank battle drama Fury is here, and is intense.

This is certainly a movie where good discretion on who sees it is well advised, as this is a hard R rated movie, showing the horrors of war in Germany in the waning days of WWII.  And although for the most part it isn't Saving Private Ryan hard to watch, this is pretty intense and gruesome at times.

But this is also pretty darn good.  Although I will say, this will fall short of the really tremendous movie it could have been with its cast, storyline and hype.  In short, this could be classified as disappointing, but only in the fact that it's very good, and not great.

Pitt stars as a tough as nails tank commander who as driven his Sherman tank and his crew all over WWII. From North Africa, to France, Belgium, and now Nazi Germany.   Somehow he, his crew and the tank they have named Fury, are still running even though the Nazi Tiger Tanks are far superior in every regard.   The war is winding down, and Germany is falling, but the final resistance they are finding is intense and determined.

This is the story really of these five men in this tank, and how they bond, survive, and cope with the horrible conditions of war. This takes you inside the tank, where we seldom have gone, and shows the situation these men find themselves in.  Battling the Nazi's, inferior equipment, sanity and each other.

Fury has numerous, and lengthy battle scenes that are the movies best.  These are skillfully done, and look amazingly authentic.   But it should be noted, they are not for the squeamish.  In addition to their length, they are brutal at times, and there is plenty to make everyone a bit uncomfortable.  There are scenes outside of battle scenes too that are hard to take, as this pulls no punches.

Fury is a raw, unfettered, and and unapologetic movie whose main component is to take you into WWII and show you that is simply wasn't a John Wayne propaganda piece.  It was horrible stuff.   With apologies to Battle Of The Bulge, and The Desert Fox, they are classic tank movies that were of their era and are fine.But Fury is far more accurate and direct in taking you inside the tank, and to places you must be brave to go in cinema.

Pitt continues to get better with age in an acting sense.  Ever since Moneyball, I think he has really matured and is flat out getting better in each movie forward.  Although, this is not as pleasant as Moneyball, Pitt is great, and wonderfully cast as this guy you certainly don't want to cross, but absolutely want on your side in a fight.  The sets and backdrops here are wonderful, and the costuming is first rate.  They really transport you behind the lines magnificently, and you feel of the era.

Fury.  Brutal, tough, hard to watch at times, but quite good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Royals Role

Time for the World Series.  It is possibly my favorite sporting event as nothing really is like post-season baseball.

With due apologies to the major TV networks, the sad reality is that they have to drag their cameras, announcers and crews and try to find Kansas City on a map. (It's in Missouri.)  And yes, you must broadcast the series, even if the Yankees are not in it.  Also, with apologies to the Giants and their fans, this World Series is all about the young Kansas City Royals.  They are charged with a feat far larger than winning 4 games in the next week.  Their role, is to save Major League Baseball - if only for a while.

Baseball has a few enemies starting with themselves.  No salary cap and the desire to proote only the major TV markets has made it an extreme unfair playing field for all other teams.  The sports media -Who insist on simply covering every aspect of the league as it pertains to the Yankees, Red Sox, and the..well.....Yankees and the Red Sox.   The new fan -  who has become a front runner.  Rooting for only teams that win.  Foregoing the home town team, because of their inability to compete.  And it's understandable, as all they know is that all the great players want to play in about 6 cities, none of them theirs, and getting huge money to do so.

I have always maintained that nothing can galvanize a city like a winning MLB team, and I stick by it. It's the every day of it, the drive to the playoffs and making a deep post season run.  Enter the Kansas City Royals.  No one is going to sit here and tell you these guys make minimum wage, of course they are making good money, but in a baseball sense they are not the Yankees by any means.  They are team that built themselves, with their own farm system, and added a few unnoticed pieces here and there pulling guys off the baseball scrap heap, making bold trades and doing frankly, what they had to do to survive.  The hope was to contend.  Instead, the Royals have now hypnotized a nation.  Winning this series will give the nation and the sport a much needed lift.

They have a ton of guys you've never heard of who play the game the right way.  They play 15 miles east of one of the great Mid-American cities we have that no one knows about on I-70.  They play in a facility that has been recently revamped, but seriously was LIGHT YEARS ahead of its time when built originally in the 1970's. They get zero credit, and deserve it all.  They were he precursor to every single new ball park (including our beautiful park) 20 years before Baltimore's Camden Yard which gets it all - and it's not accurate.  Kansas City built the first fantastic ball park 42 years ago! And BTW - it has hosted 73 MILLION fans since.

If the Royals can finish this off, not only will they capture the hearts of Americans, at least for a little while.  They can also give hope, real hope,  to the dozens of other MLB cities that think they will never have their say in the big show.  That the World Series is not only for the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals.  Yes, the Royals climbed this mountain in 1985 with a world title, but it's different now by a mile.  There is a lot riding on this for the fans mind set for the immediate future and well being of the game. 

This is a team and an organization that once was mighty when the game was smaller. Then fell victim to the game and money growing out of control.  And just when the league and the media was hoping they would simply bow down, or go out of business, the Royals have scaled the summit again, and are on the precipice of restoring order to the baseball world that has tried everything to rid itself of such small market pests. 

The Royals role is of course to win this series, but it's really beyond baseball.  It's to win it for millions who feel that the world is sometimes a bit too big, and score one for the little guy.  And give hope to baseball fans and to to those not mesmerized by baseball, that good things can happen to good people who spend their lives doing things  - the right way. 


DVD - What's New Streaming October 22

This week, there are no real HUGE movies that are new to your home service or DVD counter, but there is something for everyone.

Keep in mind we only feature major motion picture releases here, and not TV series, games, or straight to DVD movies.  Where applicable, I will like you back to my original review from it's theater run to give you and idea what you are in for.

New This Week 

Sex Tape

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal in this comedy that fell short of the hoped iconic status.  But this story line has more relevance now with all the hacking off The Cloud stories in the news lately.  Highly adult.

Earth To Echo

This is a Sci-Fi for tweens.  Good family movie that asks, are we alone?  Caution: hand held herky-jerky filmed.  Can be fatiguing.

The Purge: Anarchy

The original Purge was a big surprise hit released in the later winter last year. This is the sequel, and has given way to formula and lost it's surprisingly good story line of the original

scott@wqmx.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DVD - New Streaming and DVD October 14

This week, there is a nice array of new choices on your streaming service.  Blockbusters and small pics too. Something for everyone.

Keep in mind, we only feature major motion picture releases and not straight to DVD, TV series making their way to DVD, or games.  Where applicable, I will link you back to my original review from the movies original theater run to help you make an informed decisions before you invest your time or money.

New This Week

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

They keep making them, and we keep going. Some new and original wrinkles, but this is still dominated by Wolverine.  But they introduce Jennifer Lawrence here though.

Peabody And Sherman

Animated.  It makes no difference if you know or remember the of TV cartoon or not. This is pretty darn fun.

 Persecuted

Washington thriller that takes us deep inside the federal government and it's not pretty. Limited theater run, could do well here. 

scott@wqmx.com




Saturday, October 11, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW - The Judge

An all-star cast has been assembled for one of the most anticipated dramas of the fall, with The Judge.

This is a great example of a movie that many people will like simply because of the actors in it. This stars Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, and Leighton Meester.  A really nice mix of big stars, and young up and comers.  It is simply tragic that they were not given a better script to work with.

This is the story of Hank (Downey), and his father who is a 42 year judge  (Duvall)  in rural Indiana.  Hank is a high powered big city lawyer who has moved to Chicago and has never returned. His relationship with this father and family is amazingly bad.  Hank has to return home after his mother dies. While at home, his father is involved in a hit and run auto accident where a man is killed.  And the dead man is one of the judges worst mistakes the judge made 20 years ago in his courtroom.  There is hatred between the two.

The judge is arrested and is charged with first degree murder by a special prosecutor (Thornton) with the trial taking place in the judges small town.  Even though Hank and his father virtually hate one another, Hank ends up defending his father in court.  Will he beat the rap? And what will be the future of their relationship? 

Sadly, this is a two and half hour movie about this insanely dysfunctional family and not really about the trial as much as it should be.  There are so many side plots, and so many stabs at developing too many characters, this movie veers off course time after time.  This is also a very fatiguing movie, as it is constant family bickering and fighting.  The one word that kept creeping into my mind this whole movie was "unpleasant."  This is a drama for sure, and that's fine. But there is so much about this that is really unpleasant. And there are many moments this is not entertaining to watch.

In an effort to develop this family, they successfully make you like virtually no one.  Oh there is an attempt at the end to shine up this nickel, but it's far too late.  You have already seen say too much unpleasantness, and you have been there way too long.

Downey, as great as he can be is the weak link in this movie.  The character written for him, and his interpretation of it, is simply Tony Stark  (Iron Man) as a lawyer. And that is the kiss of death for this movie. This is a large role and he fumbles this around, and at times looks like he's bored and mailing it in.  It's not all his fault. Bad dialogue and a story that is mediocre doesn't help.  I felt this movie was going to be far more about the trial, and his battle with Billy Bob Thornton (who is great by the way in role that is far too small).  But instead we are limited to watching this horribly unlikable family sniping endlessly at each other.

The Judge.  This is a huge opportunity missed.  All these stars, all these Oscar winners and nominees in a script that is reminiscent of a bad evening soap from the 80's. 

MOVIE REVIEW - Gone Girl

After seeing the new thriller Gone Girl, no one may ever get married or have a relationship ever again. Forget all the slasher stuff, this is far scarier.

Gone Girl is based on a terrific book and is now a major motion picture with Ben Affleck, and Rosamund Pike.  And frankly, this is simply terrific.  Oh, there are a few stupid parts, and and a hole or two, but overall this 2 hour, 30 minute movie is suspenseful, well crafted and scary. And doesn't feel that long.

Meet Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike).  They are a young and beautiful marrieds couple living in Missouri.  They left New York when Nick's mom became ill, and she has now passed.   Nick is a writer, and Amy is a trust fund woman who also writes.  They have been married for a few years, when the marriage starts to have problems.  One day Nick comes home and finds the house a mess and Amy missing.

As time goes on, Nick now becomes the center of the police investigation, as Amy is now presumed dead.  Problem is, there is no body to even investigate for the crime.  As the circumstantial evidence and public opinion starts to mount against Nick, he hires nationally know defense lawyer, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry).  They start to go on the offensive to find out what really happened as Nick has maintained his innocence. But is he innocent?  And where is the body?  And who the heck is Amy really?  Because no one really seems to know.

First off, all three of our main stars here, have never been better in any movie, especially Perry.  All give command performances.  This story is so well woven, and so original that it really does keep you guessing till the very end.  This is told is flashback form for much of it, and that works very well too.  This movie has a nice look to it, as it is a bit melancholy, and suspenseful looking.  This also has a great supporting cast including Neil Patrick Harris (as you've never seen him), Sela Ward, and Carrie Coon (from Copley).  And all are terrific. 

Huge kudos to Tyler Perry.  He is simply great in this movie, as you've never seen him before.  Casting him was genius, as he can hopeully move in a different direction and maybe take of the Madea dress forever.  This movie is thoroughly modern as it shows how high profile cases in our world today as handled through the police, the media, social media, and the ever more powerful court of public opinion.  And the latter, is not always a good thing, in fact here is seldom is.

This is original, interesting and eye opening to say the least.  This is also flat out scary as it makes us all examine, who really are the people in out lives? Do we really know them, and how well?  This will not reew any faith in human decency in anyone, anywhere. This movie makes Fatal Attraction look like Captain Kangaroo,  and Sleeping With The enemy look like Romper Room.  NO one may ever get married ever again!

Gone Girl.   A hard rated R movie.  Very, very good.