Wednesday, July 30, 2014

20th Anniversary of 1994 Films

20th Anniversary of Films Released - I Saw in 1994

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
Blown Away (1994)
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Clerks. (1994)
Don Juan DeMarco (1994)
Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Ed Wood (1994)
Forrest Gump (1994)*
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Frankenstein (1994)
Il Postino: The Postman (1994)
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Little Odessa (1994)
Little Women (1994)
Muriel’s Wedding (1994)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Nell (1994)
Once Were Warriors (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quiz Show (1994)
Reality Bites (1994)
Speed (1994)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Stargate (1994)
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
The Crow (1994)
The Last Seduction (1994)
The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
The Lion King (1994)
The Madness of King George (1994)
The Mask (1994)
The Naked Gun: 33 1/3 The Final Insult (1994)
The Paper (1994)
The River Wild (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
True Lies (1994)
Wyatt Earp (1994)

Bold - Black: Excellent Independent Film Rental
Bold - Color: Academy Award Nominated Best Picture 
* Winner of Academy Award Best Picture

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Most Wanted Man - Review

A Most Wanted Man – Review

“A Most Wanted Man” starring Robyn Wright, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Bruhl and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead (his final role) is a contemporary first class, top notched suspenseful spy thriller.

As background, it’s a decade later after 9/11 and the west is determined never to ever let that horrific day happen again. Modern espionage is now running at its maximum surreptitious peak, 24 hours a day, every imaginable location, doing the nose to the grind stone hard work, with strategies being planned and executed, people being watched through surveillance, thumb drives being passed in cigarette boxes, spies masquerading as cab drivers and operatives working in dark secluded places using a cadence knock at doors. It’s a new day and everyone around the world is vigilant now in making sure to connect the dots; every single dot as to who is the enemy is, what is he thinking and what is he doing.

The film’s story starts in Hamburg Germany where we find a highly seasoned BNA German Intelligence Analyst Officer named Gunter (Hoffman) who receives information that someone suspicious was seen swimming from a shipping freighter to the shore of the Hamburg city’s port. They soon discover he is a Muslim man named Karpov from Russia who has been trying to conceal his arrival. Through operatives on the street Gunter discovers Karpov has been asking for the location of a bank with a reputation of handling large sums of money from abroad, mostly from countries in the Middle East. And it’s with that revelation Gunter suspicions become more heighten. So with his German counter intelligence team in tow they immediately lock the full force of their focus on this suspect. Let the intellectual cat and mouse chase begin.

This film has three strong points going for it. First, it showcases the real world of intellectual espionage with its less than glamorous analysts who are always tediously working each moment of the day constantly filtering though intricate mazes of data and surveillance of questionable people. Two, while this film has a plethora of moving parts, its excellent screenplay made it very easy for this viewer to understand and connect all the story line plot points at every turn. And finally, with a strong ensemble acting cast to tell this intricate tale of modern espionage led by the late Hoffman, I believe (for me) “A Most Wanted Man” is one of the best spy thrillers I have seen in a long time.

But the real ever-present strength in this film comes PS Hoffman. He reminded us once again that he was not just a great actor, he may have been one of the ten best actors of all time (in my estimation). He takes what could have been in lesser hands a rather simple man name Gunter who liked the music of Bach and turn him into “Bond”, only with a gray hair, a bulging gut, a disheveled look and wobbly walk and poor posture. Hoffman’s Gunter is a real spy who is mentality gifted in mixing his years of expert knowledge with harmless cynical wit. Hoffman makes sure to infuse his character with a high degree of intelligence and at the same time making sure everyone in any room he is occupying know he is the smartest person in that room without ever letting himself seemingly being smug about it.

To me PSH legacy of performances seemed to transcend that simple title as an “actor”. For me, he was a thespian; managing to bring a theatric quality to all of his performances, whether it was in “Boogie Nights”, “Capote”, “Doubt” or “Moneyball”. He shined in all those films without ever being showy or the need to be the center of the action. His excelling strength was his ability to take a   character and bring them to complex life from some place inside himself towards the surface of his face, to his voice and to the movie screen itself for us to ponder and enjoy.

At the very end of “A Most Wanted Man”, we see a pensive Gunter (Hoffman), contemplating. He’s looking into the distance, clearly frustrated and angry, but he doesn’t say a word; because you can feel his rage; you can see it in his face; you can see it in his eyes. This was the master craftsmanship Hoffman brought to every role; the power of the subtle, of the complex, of the intricate and the sublime, without ever saying a word.

3 – 3/4 Stars   

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lucy - Review

Lucy – Review

“Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman is an action thriller film with a definitive international flair of a story of a rather honest and affable but somewhat naïve young woman who is coax in to delivering a package (contents unknown) to a ruthless southeast Asian crime boss. What happens next is a whirl wind of being in the “wrong place at the wrong time” with Lucy finding herself surrounded by harden cold blooded murderers who eventually kidnap her in order to force her into carrying drugs by surgically implanting them inside her abdomen for transport to another international destination where they will eventually be removed. Unfortunately, for Lucy though while during her transport phase some of the drugs leak out into her blood stream where she immediately evolves (if you will) from being a student studying abroad into a virtual new life form that can only be best described as Albert Einstein with a Bruce Lee – Neo bad ass attitude with a gun. More specifically, Lucy’s cerebral intellect has not only grown from this synthetic drug entering her system in such a large quantity, its continuing to grow at an even rapid pace, even to the point she can comprehend knowledge and information faster than any known computer, as well as being able to manipulate the physical environment around her with a flick of her hand and thoughts.

“Lucy” conceptually as a story, especially in the first hour, was entertaining, with some thrilling visuals and even some provocative and intriguing screenplay in regards to the discussion involving the science of the human mind. It also infused initially very cleverly the meld of issues of human logic through the backdrop of violent action and car chases to the films overall story with some appropriate well-placed humor as well. However, what ultimately was this film’s downfall was a second half story that went from being a character driven story around “Lucy” into nothing more than a special effects food fest aka “The Matrix Redux”, thusly leaving Scarlett “Lucy’s character initially more compelling story line well behind in a ball of confusion with scenes that can only be described as silly.

Make no mistake about it, Lucy is very impressive to look at, as it’s very clear from Director Luc Besson’s previous works including “Nikita”, “The Professional”, and “The Fifth Element” he has a definite gift for offering up stylish sexy mayhem and violence if that’s not too oxymoronic.  You also clearly see huge influences from Quentin Tarantino’s films such “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill Volume 1” and his “Crazy 88’s”. But Director Besson’ second half story was such a departure from the way it started, it reminded me as if a Father was writing and completing the great American novel about his son and upon its completion got up from the computer to make himself some dinner, only to have his 10 year old son sneak down to wipe out the last two chapters and instead replace it with his favorite story “My Pet Goat” in its place, only later having the Father to return without any concern at all to his computer to simply hit send to his publisher for printing. It would have left most readers of the novel (any viewers in this case) enjoying the first half rather well, only later in the novel’s second half scratching their heads saying and mumbling to oneself “wait, what and huh?”

“Lucy” has its good moments, and you get to look at sexy Scarlett for 90 minutes, but it’s “good” and her sexy looks are only worth your time if you are flipping through your basic cable channels menu to watch her…………for free.

2 -3/4 Stars  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

50 Movie Sequels Coming 2015 & Beyond

                               50 Movie Sequels Coming 2015 & Beyond

3 Guns - 2
Austin Powers 4
Avatar 1 & 2
Bad Boys 3
Bad Santa 2
Batman Vs Superman
Beetlejuice 2
Beverly Hills Cop 4
Bill & Ted 3
Blade Runner 2
Bridget Jones's Baby
Captain America 3
Cheech and Chong
Clerks III
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2
Dumb And Dumber Too
I Am Legend 2
I, Robot 2
Independence Day 2
Indiana Jones 5
Jack Reacher 2
James Bond 24
Jurassic World
Kill Bill: Vol. 3
Layer Cake 2
Mad Max: Fury Road
Magic Mike XXL
Men In Black 4
Mission: Impossible 5
Pirates Of The Caribbean 5
Planet Of The Apes
Prometheus 2
Rambo 5
Reddick 4
Rounders 2
Salt 2
Shakespeare in Love 2
Star Trek 3
Star Wars Episode 7
Taken 3
Ted 2
Terminator: Genesis
The Avengers Age Of Ultron
The Brazilian Job
The Equalizer 2
The Fighter 2
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Thor 3
Top Gun 2
World War Z - 2