Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The reinvention of acting great Robert De Niro continues, and now he stars opposite the wonderful Anne Hathaway in The Intern.

This is a charming and original little movie.  But it would have been a bit better if it has been "little-er."  This is a comedy and light drama of sorts, that comes in at 2 hours, and that is about 20 minutes too long for this type of movie. This was written and directed by the fabulous Nancy Myers who has a bunch of nice movies to her credit, so the principles are in place for a great movie. And there are things about this that are great.

De Niro plays Ben.  He is a 70 year-old widower who is finding retirement difficult, so he applies for a senior intern program at a new start up online clothing retailer run by Jules (Hathaway).   This is an office of about 200 young people who have no contact with anyone Ben's age.  So he is an outcast at first, but in time becomes a fantastic example to those who have never been exposed to a gentleman his age.  Including Jules, who finds out she needs Ben to be her balance in life and business, as she is trying to do too many things.

I really like the whole idea of this movie.  There aren't many movies that place a real value on the older generation.  This story is one of bridging the gap between the generations.  It also shows that there may indeed be a place where experience is valued by young people who many need a helping hand, that was not lent to them growing up and being raised by more contemporary parents.  This movie does make some loud social commentary about modern parenting, and younger values but is careful not to trash young families.  But does show that they truly don't have all the answers either, even though they think they do.

The only real problem here is the length.  This is flat out too long.  There are a few silly scenes that really have no bearing on our story that could have been left on the editing floor easily.  This wanders off base a time or two, but it doesn't destroy this.  Overall, I would call this "entertaining."  It's just a fun movie to watch.

De Niro continues to reinvent himself in the movies as a kinder, gentler soul.  Hathaway makes any movie better, and the supporting cast here is terrific, lead by the lovely Rene Russo and Linda Lavin (where has she been?) .  This also a nice, refreshing change for some balance at the theaters right now, and if fine for virtually anyone to see.  Great date movie.

The Intern.  Nice idea, nice message, and nice movie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Here is a great example of a movie you have to stick with to really enjoy. Black Mass has some problems, but in the end it works.

Black Mass is based on the true story of Whitey Bulger, who became a very powerful organized crime leader with the "help" of the FBI.  This has great cast, and is a well written piece, but it does get off to a very slow start in its two hour run.

Johnny Depp plays Bulger, and is very good in this large role, and one that is very different for him.  Depp plays a character and not a caricature, and pulls is of nicely.  This also boasts great actors like Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Sarsgaard.   All of our principles are solid, and there is also a very strong supporting cast behind them.

This takes place over about a 15 year period where Bulger came to power with the help of the Boston FBI.   One of the main agents in that office was a childhood friend of Bulger and makes a deal with Bulger to be an informant for the FBI, to take down the Boston Italian Mafia.  Which they do.  Problem is, two agents within the Bureau turn a HUGE blind eye to Bulger and his gang over a long period of time and Bulger becomes very powerful and basically has a free pass to rob, extort and kill anyone he wants.

Well, clearly all things have to end and the noose tightens on Bulger and the FBI.  So what happens in the end?  How does this all play out for one of the biggest gangsters in US history, and the Boston FBI?

This movie absolutely staggers out of the gate and being honest, is very disjointed at the beginning.  You have no real sense of where this is going and that's a problem.  But as this goes on, and more characters are developed and introduced this becomes far more interesting and entertaining.  This movie does not glorify Bulger, in fact is shows you just how brutal he really was.  And how insanely corrupt Boston politics and rogue Federal Agents can be. 

But being fair, this does get better as it goes along, but this is an opportunity missed of sorts.  It can only climb as high as being good, when everything is there for this to be great.  This is a nice comeback for Depp, but this will go down as just another decent movie in a year that average and decent are the rules of the day so far.

Black Mass  Good, not great.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - The Perfect Guy

OK, every once in a while, we write one of these things up and keep it short and sweet because there just isn't much to say.  And my mama told me, "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all."

The Perfect Guy has found an audience to a degree, and my gut feeling is that much of them would love to have their money back. This is beyond horrible.  This is easily going to be one of the worst movies of the year, and will end up on many year end lists.  More than likely mine.

This is the story of a beautiful young professional and successful woman and this ex-boyfriend that turns into this horrendous stalker dude.  This has been done a thousand times before and done better just as many. The writing of this hunk of junk is so staggeringly bad in every single regard, it is literally laughable.  Our characters are thin and amazingly bland.  Our villain is so weak, so laughable, so meek, so incredibly bad that he takes the whole thing down with him.  There is not one shred of originality in this.  You may have a hard time making it to the end.

This does have a nice cast, and they all are completely wasted with the script which can only be described as Junior High caliber.  Insanely predictable, not scary, not shocking, not anything except flat out bad.  The direction is weak and the editing is very awkward at times. Plus, for the first half of this movie, they have some ridiculous romantic comedy, love story music running that I just could not get my head around.  This looks unbelievably small budget and it feels like it too.

The Perfect Guy.  Horrible.

Monday, September 14, 2015


M. Night Shyamalan has had some large successes over the years, and also some terrible failures. His latest attempt is really neither, and that's the problem.

The Visit is a supposedly scary movie that is not really. The audience today couldn't decide if it was silly, or serious.  There was some real laughter from the group at the screen, and I'm not convinced there was supposed to be.  This movie just lies there, and really takes you nowhere.  And pay no attention to all this "huge twist" stuff you've been hearing.  It's nothing you won't see coming.

The Visit is the story of a young single mother (Jessica Hahn) and her two kids.  She is estranged from her own mom and dad, and her two young kids have never met their grandparents. So, when mom decides to go on a cruise with her new boyfriend, she decides to send her kids to her parents house for a week so they can know each other.  Right there, it sounds pretty dumb.  Who would do that? Send her kids for a WEEK to someone you, yourself have not had any contact with at all in 15 years? Please!

So as the kids arrive, they find out that old Nana and Pappy are out of their collective minds, and have a sinister plan to kill the kids.   Now isn't this a lovely story - Granny and Gramps serial killers of their own grand kids.  Fact is, there is a plot twist that deals with this, but it doesn't work all that well.  This is simply silly, amazingly uninteresting at best.

Shyamalan has lost a whole lot of his touch from the early days. But being fair, you can't have The Sixth Sense, or Signs every time out, and that's what we expect from him, and we don't get it much anymore.  This is just a very forgettable movie, with cliche' performances, made on an adequate budget that simply goes nowhere. This is not scary, or suspenseful, but is mildly entertaining at times.

The Visit. A rental if your bored out of your gourd this fall.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - American Ultra

This is a very interesting movie that really deserves bigger and better audience.

American Ultra is a real nice late summer flick starring Jessie Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart.  Being fair, this movie has some of the same stuff as many other movies.  It's violent, and it's graphic at times.  Plus it takes on the CIA and demonizes them yet again, but that's nothing new in Hollywood. But it also has elements that you have never seen before, with a story that's original and fascinating and fun. 

AU is the story of rival factions of the CIA and their long rumored mind-control and mind altering programs with experimentation on real humans.  As the competition within the CIA heats up, what program will win out?  Who will be promoted, and at what cost will they go to, to finally make the perfect CIA agent.  One who can be unstoppable? 

Meet Mike (Eisenberg).   He is a late 20's stoner who doesn't even know he was an experiment years ago, and has no idea he is the last of the Ultra Program in the CIA.  He is capable of far more than he knows.  He lives with his stoner girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart).  But when the CIA decides to kill him and rid themselves of the final chapter of a seemingly failed program, Mike is "activated" and now becomes virtually invincible to those who would do him harm

AU is fast paced, and very funny at times. This movie is quick and tidy and even though this may not be exciting enough for a large chunk of the movie going public, this is a really entertaining movie.  This is very well written, and this story is original.  Eisneberg and Stewart have real nice chemistry on screen, and the supporting cast is very strong.  Yeah, this is kind of dopey at times, but so is virtually every other Eisenberg movie.  I found this to be refreshing, and a real escape from day to day life and from the cookie cutter big action blockbusters that everyone seems to flock to.

American Ultra. Yes, this is set up for more, but I'm not convinced we need more. This is fine, fun and well done.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


More classic TV shows coming to the big screen, and this week it's The Man From UNCLE.

It would appear that they may be trying to catch the same lightning from the same bottle as the Mission Impossible series has. But being honest, they did not.  And there is one basic reason why not. There is no star power here at all.

The Man From Uncle TV show from the 1960's was a very interesting concept that was very topical at the time.  The Cold War was going on between the United States and The Soviet Union.  There was insane distrust, and the world was seemingly on a course to nuclear war between the superpowers.  So a secret intelligence agency was formed with the "sort of" cooperation between Russia and the USA, called UNCLE. And there were two of the finest agents from each side working together to root out people worse than themselves to ensure only the Cold War  would continue, and not some wild card popping up threatening world "peace."

The agents were Napolean Solo from the USA and Illya Kuryakin, working together at a strange time in history. Great concept, but things are very different in the movie going public today. This movie is set in 1963, and even though it sets it up and explains it pretty well, you still have to have some Cold War knowledge to really get it. For the record, I liked this movie.  I thought it was pretty well done, and captured the TV show pretty darn well with it's overall presentation.  But there is no one to draw you in.  This stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as our agents, and sadly, they bring in no one.  And sadly again, neither does the premise on today's movie going public, thus the sad opening of 13 million.

But this is pretty good.   Yes, it is draggy in a few areas, and some of this story gets away from them a time or two, but this does have the Mission Impossible feel, and of course they all can track their roots back to James Bond movies.  This has a nice villain, a decent story and some real fun humor to ensure that this won't take itself too seriously. But does all this sound familiar?  Yes. They are simply late to the party. Very late. Been there, and done that.

The Man From UNCLE. For those who go to see it, it's a hit.  But there's not enough interest to save it.   

Friday, August 7, 2015


Please welcome the creepiest movie of the summer, or any summer. The new thriller, The Gift is here to totally creep you out.

And it does!  The Gift is a really terrific movie that finds your spine and gives it a twist like it hasn't had in a while. This movie is a great example of a story that understands what would be scary to you and capitalizes on it wonderfully.

This was written, directed and starred in by Joel Edgerton who's character Gordo, is nothing short of creepy and very authentic.  Gordo is a 40 ish year old single guy who stumbles across an old high school friend Simon (Jason Bateman).   Gordo is an exceptionally awkward veteran who decides to befriend Simon and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall), whether they like it or not.  He chronically shows up unannounced and leaves a series of basically inappropriate gifts on their doorstep.  But why?

Gordo seems to be hiding a secret or two, and so is Simon.  Why is Gordo stalking them? And why can't Simon get him to stop? And why does Robyn seem to have a great deal of empathy for Gordo? These are fair questions, and are all answered nicely in this very well written, and directed script.

This movie has something to say, and that is very refreshing in today's scary movie making.  Most, if not all don't.  This does not rely and any special effects, blood, gore or silly storytelling. This finds a plot theme, and goes with it.  And this is thoroughly topical for today's movie going public.  Plus, after you see this, you may wonder if you really do know your spouse, or the people they bring with them. (No one may ever get married again after seeing this)

The Gift puts you on a slow burn that is hard to turn off. You simmer for a while and wonder where its really going. You may have heard of a major twist in this, and there is one. But you may figure it out like I did, if you pay close attention. This is a movie where you shouldn't get up to buy anything, or hit the bathroom, as there are many nuances to it, and shouldn't be missed.

The Gift.  One of the really nice surprises so far in 2015.  Well, well done.