Archive for the Drama Category

How to Steal a Million

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this elegant “caper” film, Audrey Hepburn stars as the daughter of a wealthy Parisian (Hugh Griffith), whose hobby is copying famous works of art. His replica of a famed Cellini sculpture is inadvertently displayed in an art museum, and he begins to worry that he’ll lose his reputation once the experts evaluate the statuette. Audrey decides to rob the museum, and hires a burglar (Peter O’Toole) for that purpose. But the burglar is really a detective, who has every intention of arresting Audrey and her father when the deed is done.

What people are saying:

“A decent enough film, but I still can’t help but dislike Peter O’Toole for some reason. Hepburn is terrific, as usual. There isn’t much unusual in what’s going on here, but Eli Wallach’s character is a bit of an interesting character so he catches my attention when he’s on-screen.” 2 1/2 stars

“…the sort of genial, fluffy little caper flick that rarely gets made anymore, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” 3 1/2 stars

“A charming heist movie with a handsome leading man and ever beautiful Audrey, and of course interesting plot, funny jokes and interesting supporting roles that enrich the movie.” 4 stars

“Young Peter teams up with -glamorous as always- Audrey in this romantic comedy, set in Paris and revolving around a museum heist. The characters are entertaining, the plot jolly good fun & the performances remarkable. Overall, a good film to watch on an easy-going night in.” 3 1/2 stars

“Being a huge Audrey Hepburn fan this review may be a little biased. She never ceases to amaze me with how she can be somewhat versatile in her roles without sacrificing her notable style and ethereal beauty. The film itself is quite comical, and is almost like a romantic version of Ocean’s Eleven. Good movie for fans of Audrey, or Peter.” 5 stars

Big Eyes

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, BIG EYES is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.

What people are saying:

“”Well-acted, thought-provoking, and a refreshing change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Eyes works both as a biopic and as a timelessly relevant piece of social commentary”. 3 1/2 stars

“Middling drama from Tim Burton, based on some real life art controversy. There’s some nice integration of pop art into the visuals and some evocatively cartoonish recreations of the era, but there’s something decidedly underwhelming about the film as a whole. Amy Adams is good as always if not always well served by the script, but Christoph Waltz can’t save a character that sadly descends into caricature well before the end. Not up to Ed Wood or even Big Fish standards (comparable as this is another rare film where Burton drops his gothic schtick – although you can clearly see that his animated fare owes something to the big eyed waifs featured in this). You can do worse. You can also do much better.” 2 stars

“Bright yet disturbing, Big Eyes is both an indicator of just how far women have come in the past 60 years and a comment on the commercialization of pop culture.” 4 stars

” It’s not a bad movie, but it is slow (I fell asleep twice). What to say… it’s an interesting story, but it’s just not told in a very riveting way. I wanted to like it more than I did, especially as I usually enjoy Amy Adams. But she seems to be somewhat “dialing it in” these days. I miss the performances of her early career. She amazed me in “Catch me if you can”, and again in “Junebug” (a rather odd little film but fascinating character study). This film can be summed up in one word: “Meh”. ” 2 1/2 stars

“Big Eyes certainly isn’t what you’re used to. It’s unique, it’s compelling, and its cast, led by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, make it entertaining from start to finish. As my girlfriend, Katie, said, “Some of it left me speechless.” Waltz plays the villain so well in every film, and especially in Big Eyes, where you do not realize he is the villain till later on. The story itself is fascinating, and unpredictable, and the “paint-off” at the end in court is the climax that the audience deserves. Although it is not perfect, it definitely shows glimpses of brilliance, which Tim Burton always provides the audience. It will certainly be remembered as one of Tim Burton’s most interesting and realist films, and will also be remembered when it comes to the topic of women’s rights and feminism. It is a sad story, made happy, and was a good film to start of my year at the movies.” 3 1/2 stars

Joy

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

JOY is the wild story of a family across four generations centered on the girl who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, pave the road in this intense emotional and human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and enterprise facing a world of unforgiving commerce. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

What people are saying:

Joy is anchored by a strong performance from Jennifer Lawrence, although director David O. Russell’s uncertain approach to its fascinating fact-based tale only sporadically sparks bursts of the titular emotion” 3 1/2 stars

“Joy is far from Joyful; with an uninteresting narrative, performances that feel drained of passion and a filmmaker caught between his roots and his new-found mainstream sensibility, it is an utter mess.” 2 stars

“A well constructed modern fable, but a couple convenient coincidences made for the sake of time at the behest of honesty, as well as Joy’s blind focus on an selfish family, keep it from earning its deserved heart.” 3 1/2 stars

“Jenifer Lawrence has the ability to make some of the most amazing women seem just AWFUL maybe its just her garbage acting skills but God i wanted to love this movie. I knew the story of Joy and i find her a great inspiration but this movie makes her seems like a crazy push over who got as far as she did on luck. ” 1 star

“One of those movies like the Blind Side that just makes you smile. Jennifer Lawrence is at her least annoying and carries the movie well. I enjoyed Edgar Ramirez’s performance too, but Bradley Cooper somewhat stole the show for me. He’s such a great actor and has such great chemistry with Lawrence it’s a shame he wasn’t in it more! ” 4 stars

Paris Blues

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Ram Bowen and Eddie Cook are two expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris where, unlike the US at the time, Jazz musicians are celebrated and racism is a non-issue. When they meet and fall in love with two young American girls, Lillian and Connie, who are vacationing in France, Ram and Eddie must decide whether they should move back to the US with them, or stay in Paris for the freedom it allows them. Ram, who wants to be a serious composer, finds Paris too exciting and is reluctant to give up his music for a relationship, and Eddie wants to stay for the city’s more tolerant racial atmosphere.

What people are saying:

“Despite how square this movie about hepcats seems — if only from the admittedly unfair vantage point of more than five decades on — expressions of raw emotion stir Paris Blues to life.” 4 stars

“An interesting cinematic mis-step, the movie is of note for getting these three great actors in one movie — and for capturing images of a Paris at a transitionary time in its post war history.” 3 stars

“Martin Ritt directs Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as jazz musician American ex-pats living in Paris. How could a film with that set-up not be great! Newman and Poitier fall for the pretty tourists Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Take all that and add in an amazing Duke Ellington score and you’ve got an incredibly cool film.” 4 stars

“You’ve got Newman and Woodward and Poitier and Diahann Carroll, you’ve got a great soundtrack by *the* Duke Ellington–throw in Louis Armstrong as “Mad Man Moore” and you’re pretty much set. It would’ve been nice for Poitier and Carroll to have had more screen time because their story (she wants to return to the US to fight for civil rights, but he likes the fact that Paris doesn’t marginalize him as a black man) is genuinely interesting and they have a great chemistry. But all in all it’s a solid film with solid acting.” 3 1/2 stars

“This films certainly has all the pieces; Newman, Poitier, Woodward in their prime, with a score by Duke Ellington and a Paris setting, the only thing missing is a strong story. It follows budding romance, but doesn’t really go anywhere…that being said, it’s still worth watching to see these fine actors work and hear the excellent score. Give it a try!” 3 1/2 stars

Blow

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Johnny Depp turns in a quietly powerful performance at the heart of this Ted Demme-directed drama as real-life coke smuggler George Jung, who rises from poverty to become one of the biggest drug dealers in America before his eventual downfall.

What people are saying:

“Johnny Depp shines in this amazing film. Depicting the rise and fall of real life coke smuggler George Jung, this film tells an amazing true life tale with the right amount of humor, drama and ultimately sadness. Not too many films can effectively make you root for the bad guy. The fact remains… Depp gives the right amount of sympathy and charisma to the character of Jung that it’s easy to forget his real life crimes and empathize with his decisions. At times inspirational and ultimately tragic, this movie is a winner on all levels. Look for a hysterical cameo by Bobcat Goldthwait. This film is a gem.” 5 stars

“Comes off like a flamboyant cartoon, another film about the deglamorization of glamorous people living it up in the glamorous world of drugs.” 2 stars

“Yes it’s cliche and yes it does appropriate from other movies, however it works. Depp commands the screen and the subtle plot and theme shift from ambition to o a more sentimental lesson – Blow, is still a thoroughly enjoyable ride.” 3 1/2 stars

“Blow is an excellent absorbing crime drama with a good cast. Depp is good, but his smaller bit players like the actress who plays his Mom or Diego or Paul Reubens are very memorable too. The movie paints the crime smuggler in a sympathetic light, which may ring false to some but ultimately its a well acted drama with a talented cast. Cliff Curtis and Emma Roberts were good too.” 4 stars

“Much better than I expected. Rather than over-glamorizing the life of a drug lord, it shows Jung to be just a regular guy. But a regular guy with an exceptional story. “Blow” reminded me not to judge people soley on their actions, because you never know what pushes people to do what they do. It really makes you feel for a man who, as a high-volume drug dealer with multiple arrests, would often be dehumanized. On a less emotional note, don’t let the R rating scare you. It’s mostly for the drug references & a prevalent use of the “f” word. Only one major sexual scene (which can be skipped without losing any of the plot), and little violence (none that’s graphic), especially for a film about drug dealers.” 5 stars

Slums of Beverly Hills

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Tamara Jenkins wrote and directed this comedy-drama depicting the experience of growing up poor in the 90210 zip code, told from the point of view of Vivian Abramowitz (Natasha Lyonne), a teen who lives a nomadic existence in the outskirts of Beverly Hills with her single, divorced father, Murray (Alan Arkin) and her two young brothers (David Krumholtz, Eli Marienthal). As Murray tries to keep the family in the Beverly Hills school district, the family moves into a one-bedroom apartment in a shabby complex. When sexually liberated Rita (Marisa Tomei), daughter of Murray’s brother Mickey (Carl Reiner), checks out of a drug rehab and moves into the apartment, she becomes a “role model” for the young Vivian.

What people are saying:

“Though hypocritical in the way it sensationalizes sexuality, this serious and funny 1998 movie about a 15-year-old coming to terms with her body and her family in 1976 is, refreshingly, never coy or ironic.” 4 stars

“The kind of comedy that could easily have been a dead-serious drama. Alan Arkin and Natasha Lyonne (drop-dead gorgeous face!) steal the show, with a little comic relief help from Marisa Tomei and Carl Reiner. Interestingly, the writer-director is telling about her own life as a “nomad Jew” in Beverly Hills, according to her interviews. So this has a ring of sad truth to it, but overall, it is a sweet and cuddly dysfunctional family tale.” 3 stars

“Nice little film, if a little unfocused. Treads a fine line with over the top wantonness out of the good taste’s ballpark or just plain silliness, but still at times manages to be genuinely funny. Natasha Lyonne’s sizzling hotness in this is undeniable.” 3 1/2 stars

“It would be hard to imagine suffering through a more improbable, half-baked, doughy cake of a movie than Slums of Beverly Hills. In the concept stage, the movie probably looked promising, including the fact that it includes proven players such as Arkin, Tomei, etc. But it stumbles and bores from start to finish. Even the title is nonsensical. There is no Beverly Hills venue pay-off to be found–surprising since Rodeo Drive, etc. should be ripe for comedic exploitation; the title could just as easily have been Slums of Pomona. Throughout the movie, the actors and actresses seem to be, well, acting; it’s almost like they are still rehearing their lines. Although the unlikely plot and predictable dialogue are so second-rate, great acting could never rescue this forgettable waste of 91 minutes.” 1 star

“An adorable, light hearted coming of age film with wonderful performances from Alan Arkin as a nice, but burned out blue collar father, Marisa Tomei as a loopy kinda-sorta-bad influence cousin, David Krumholtz steals his scenes as a wanna-be entertainer, swiveling his hips in his birthday suit as he croons away to Old Standards in the family’s bland, drab apartment while his sister (Lyonne) comes to terms with her ample bosom and her boring lifestyle as she mildly pines for a neighbor (Kevin Corrigan) It’s the kind of film that could easily be done too seriously or as farce, but strikes a successful balance between dramatic plot points and an overall light hearted, seriocomic tone. Natasha Lyonne steals the show as the beautiful, disaffected and wholly exasperated elder daughter of Arkin, looking for a breast reduction surgery and some direction in life. The film is light, fast, fun and suitable for the whole family- tweenage and up, of course. ” 4 stars

The Fabulous Dorseys

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The rise to fame of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, brothers who achieved stardom as big-band leaders during the swing era, is depicted in this biographical drama. Despite early encouragement from their father, the Dorsey brothers must learn to overcome their sibling rivalry in order to achieve real success.

REVIEW:

When talking to a colleague of mine a few weeks ago, we go into a discussion about how most jazz artists were African American, especially the ones from the “jazz age”. This got me thinking, who are some of the non-black jazz artists from that time? First names that popped in my head were Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, both of which have had their own biopics. After some more pondering, I came to the name Tommy Dorsey who, along with his brother Jimmy, had big band known as The Fabulous Dorseys.

What is this about?

The rise and rise of the Fabulous Dorsey brothers is charted in this whimsical step down memory lane, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey play themselves in this vehicle for their excellent music. From being raised by their father who insists on them learning music, to the split that just saw their careers rise even further.

What did I like?

Jimmy. For someone who knows a fair amount of music history, especially jazz history, it brings me a great shame to let it be known that I am not that familiar with Jimmy Dorsey. I know a little of Tommy, mostly because he has a small part in one of my all time favorite movies, A Song is Born. With that said, it is good to get to know a little more about Tommy and some basics about Jimmy. From here, I can go and do my own research.

Development. As the film starts, we meet the Dorseys as kids trying to get out of practicing, but their father makes them do it anyway. This sets the stage for the work ethic that would make them the proficient players that would headline their own big bands in the future. The development of their characters was something that needed to be done correctly and the filmmakers seemed to have done a sufficient job doing so.

Sibling rivalry. Brothers fight. It is just going to happen, especially when they are as competitive and different as these two. Since they played themselves, I doubt that many facts were flubbed in certain pivotal scenes, such as the breakup that occurred on stage at a gig. I’ve always wondered what it was that drove a wedge between these two, and now I know.

What didn’t I like?

Love story. The Dorseys apparently had a singer with whom they grew up with. I don’t know how true this is, but she was a big enough influence on them that she not only made it into the film, but was also given a love story. Let me make this clear, Tommy and Jimmy, who both got married during her time on the road, don’t even get a mention of their wives, but this random chick gets to have an entire affair with the pianist.

Rushed ending. Most of the film is well planned out and decently paced. Then we get to the last 5 minutes or so and its as if the studio was about to run out of money and needed to put a nice ending on the film, regardless of where the plot was in regards to the story.

Montage. I don’t know about you, but when I watch a movie about a famous musician, rights be damned, I expect to hear their music! After Tommy and Jimmy have their breakup we are treated to a quick montage of their greatest hits. For the music fan, it is a huge letdown, because it could have been done better and we are short changed some great tunes. Perhaps this was another cost cutting measure? If so, cut some of the fat from the story and leave the music be!

Final verdict on The Fabulous Dorseys? I’m a huge fan of these old black and white films. This copy just happened to still have the screen pops, which really made it very authentic. With that said, there wasn’t anything about this made me super excited. Granted, I’m not a huge Jimmy or Tommy Dorsey fan, so that may be why this didn’t do anything for me, as opposed to The Glenn Miller Story. Do I think it would do anything for a casual movie fan? Given today’s society and their tastes, probably not, but there is an audience out there for this kind of film and they are the ones that will truly enjoy this the was the filmmakers intended.

3 out of 5 stars