Archive for Amy Adams

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

Serving Sara

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Joe Tyler gets more than he bargained for when he’s asked to serve divorce papers to Sara Moore. Unwilling to give up the money she helped make for her cattle baron husband, Sara proposes a deal: If Joe helps her, she’ll cut him in on the proceeds.

What people are saying:

“not very funny, or well-directed, mathew perry in his lesser funny movie role, and elizabeth hurley with her too annoyingly english accent. the comedy is heavily laboured and could only work with the chemistry between the two main characters, which, alas is not present during the whole film, even when things get slightly steamy. cedric the entertainer gives us the few entertaining scenes and one-liners in the film, and even the scene where mathew perry has to do something with a bull and sticking his hand up its ass to get it to have sex with a plastic cow, might have worked well in another movie, with better actors, better director, and better comic writers, but every necessary element is missing, creating a pointless ” 2 stars

“The biggest hurdle this movie has to overcome is the overwhelming screen presence of Elizabeth Hurley. Her beauty and glamour easily outshine anyone that stands next to her, dwarfing any co-stars or supporting characters who dare to share the screen with her. Matthew Perry does an admirable job, but he just seems so lacking next to Liz. There really is not much chemistry there. There is some humor in this movie, but not a whole lot. Perry is his usual saracastic self, and it is refreshing – but it is hard to accept him as a wise-cracking tough guy who can use different accents at the drop of a hat. The story is not the least bit believeable, but the audience will be drawn in and kept by Hurley alone. Not a must-see, but if you have a free spot in your queue you might want to give this one a try.” 3 stars

“Cute, if mindless, fun. Its one of those movies you watch while doing something else, but still good.” 4 stars

“The only really good thing about this movies…Elizabeth Hurley in a short skirt.” 2 1/2 stars

“Ok, so it’s not a great film, it’s got some humor to it but it’s not a Barrel of laughs and a story that kinda holds together. But then it’s got the great Bruce Campbell in it, the gorgeous Amy Adams, the also attractive Liz Hurley and funny man Matthew Perry. Entertaining.” 2 1/2 stars

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Billionaire Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as Batman for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles under his disguise.

Wayne learns that weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean (results of Zod’s terraforming attempt), claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship. In the next meeting with Luthor, Finch denies his request.

Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Bruce, due to her inability to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne receives a vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the vision by a mysterious time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues the convoy carrying the Kryptonite from the White Portuguese ship to LexCorp, but Superman intercedes and orders him to cease his activities.

Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing, where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, in preparation to battle Superman by building a powerful exoskeleton and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.

Luthor kidnaps and holds hostage Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has been sending messages to Batman and Superman to heighten their animosity towards each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman, in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman initiates the fight and eventually subdues him. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship. Luthor unleashes a monstrous creature made from Zod’s body spliced with Luthor’s DNA. Superman, Batman and Diana join forces to fight the creature, but are outmatched by its ability to absorb energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and impales the creature, while it stabs him with its bone protrusions, killing Superman.

Luthor is arrested and imprisoned. Facing Batman in prison, he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Diana attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha passes an envelope to Lane, which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Diana that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting from the ones from Luthor’s files, to protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate

REVIEW:

Let’s get ready to rumble! The fight every comic book fan and superhero nerd has been waiting on is about to go down in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The question on everyone’s mind, though, is with Zack Snyder directing will this be more flash over substance? Also, would it just be better to wait for the “main event” coming next month in Captain America: Civil War?

What is this about?

Following his titanic struggle against General Zod, Metropolis has been razed to the ground and Superman is the most controversial figure in the world. While for many he is still an emblem of hope, a growing number of people consider him a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he has brought to Earth. As far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to society. He fears for the future of the world with such a reckless power left ungoverned, and so he dons his mask and cape to right Superman’s wrongs. The rivalry between them is furious, fueled by bitterness and vengeance, and nothing can dissuade them from waging this war. However, a dark new threat arises in the form of a third man: one who has a power greater than either of them to endanger the world and cause total destruction!

What did I like?

It’s all about the game. Batman has always been a badass, even in his campier days, but in this flick, he takes it to another level. There is a scene near the end of the film where he swoops in and, like a ninja takes out a room of about 12 guys with guns. It is a sight to behold and, those of us that have played the Arkham City franchise of Batman games may recognize that the fighting style is very similar. Whether that was done on purpose or not, I cannot be sure, but I liked it!

Clash of the Titans. Say what you will about Man of Steel, it brought Superman back to the forefront of the DC cinematic universe. A place he should have stayed, but they just couldn’t resist having Batman in there. So, here we go, a fight for supremacy, Superman vs. Batman. I would have preferred this be Christian Bale’s Batman, though, for continuity’s sake. No offense to Ben Affleck, he did perhaps the best Batman we’ve seen since…well, since Kevin Conroy in the animated series. The fight between these two pushes them to their limits, which is what we would expect.

She’s a Wonder. I do not believe Wonder Woman has ever graced the big screen with her presence. We all know of the infamous TV series starring Lynda Carter, her appearance in the Justice League animated series, and various other incarnations, including her own animated film. Word just dropped that her film was moved up to next summer, which is sure to have feminists and fans of the Amazon warrior happy. For me, I’m just glad we finally got to see her. Now, whether or not this is what she should look and act like is a different topic for another section.

What didn’t I like?

Contrast. Batman and Superman are both heroes to their cities and whatnot but it is their methodology which causes them to butt heads often. If you expecting to see that in this film, you will be sadly disappointed. The best way I can put this is that dark needs light and vice versa, but when you have two dark characters they cancel each other out. For this to have truly effective, we needed the Superman we all know, love, and deserve. A character steeped in goodness, truth, and is a beacon for right. Instead, we have a Superman who really isn’t that different from Batman, and that is why during the fight I found myself enjoying it, sure, but not really cheering for either one, because there was no clear side, save for the consequences should one or the other lose.

Riddle me this! Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Justice League cartoon, but when I think of Lex Luthor, I see a cold, calculating, brilliant businessman. That is not what we get here. Before I begin my rant on Lex, it should be known that none of the other films have produced one that is equal to what we got in animated form, including the original Superman franchise. None of those, however, insulted their audience with this version of Lex who might as well have been playing The Riddler, because that is what his mannerisms felt like. I kept expecting him to throw a riddle or two out at any moment. That didn’t happen, so we are left with this crazed, ADHD version of Lex who seems like a kid playing with his inheritance and brilliance. Oh, and don’t get me started on the casting of Jesse Eisenberg. It is well documents that any film with him is automatically starting out in the negative, but apparently the filmmakers could have cast Bryan Cranston, but instead they cast this punk and…ugh…let me stop before I throw my computer across the room.

That Gal. Give credit where it’s due, Gal Gadot put in the work to bulk up for her role as Wonder Woman. It just isn’t enough, as she still looks anorexically thin. I’m sure that I am not the only one that thinks this, but when I envision Wonder Woman, I think of Lucy Lawless during her Xena days. Can’t you just imagine her, or some equivalent, as Wonder Woman?

Anything Marvel can do. By now, everyone knows that this is a) not the sequel Superman deserves and b) is nothing more than a setup for a Justice League movie. Here’s the thing about that, Marvel meticulous took their time setting up The Avengers. It was something that had never been done before. Now everyone is trying to set up their own cinematic universe. Hell, even on television (ironically DC isn’t doing too bad in that department), they’re doing it. For me, I feel as if this is just something being fast tracked because they feel they are behind Marvel and need to play catch up.

Final verdict on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? There are good and bad parts to this film. First, the additions of Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman work much better than what everyone who initially criticized their casting thought they would. There is a scene where Batman perches on the side of a building and it looks like it is straight off the cover of one of the graphic novels! On the other side of the coin, this is a film that should be fun, with two uber popular superheroes duking it out for superior, but that level of fun never shows. Instead, we get a film that is so dark, it almost makes you want to slit your own wrists! DC really needs to lighten up. I also question the casting of Jeremy Irons as Alfred. He just seemed to not fit. All in all, there are more faults in this film than reasons to watch, but do I recommend it? Reluctantly, yes…it is still a high quality superhero movie. I don’t think I’ll be rushing to see it again, though.

4 out of 5 stars

Her

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly is a lonely, introverted man who works for a business that has professional writers like himself compose letters for people who are unwilling or unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from childhood sweetheart Catherine, Theodore purchases a talking operating system (OS) with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides he wants the OS to have a female voice, and she names herself “Samantha”. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as Theodore’s avoiding signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine. Samantha proves to be constantly available, always curious and interested, supportive and undemanding.

Samantha convinces Theodore to go on a blind date with Amelia, a woman one of his friends has been trying to set him up with. The date goes well, but Theodore hesitates to promise when he will see her again, so she insults him and leaves. Theodore mentions this to Samantha, and they talk about relationships. Theodore explains that, although he and Amy dated briefly in college, they are only good friends and that Amy is married. Theodore and Samantha’s intimacy grows through a verbal sexual encounter. They develop a relationship that reflects positively in Theodore’s writing and well being.

Amy reveals that she is divorcing her overbearing husband, Charles, after a trivial fight. She admits to Theodore that she has become close friends with a female OS that Charles left behind. Theodore confesses to Amy that he is dating his OS.

Theodore meets with Catherine at a restaurant to sign the divorce papers and mentions Samantha. Appalled that he can be romantically attached to what she calls a “computer,” Catherine accuses Theodore of being unable to deal with real human emotions. At home that night, Samantha suggests using a sex surrogate, Isabella, who would simulate Samantha so that they can be physically intimate. Theodore reluctantly agrees, but Catherine’s accusations still linger in his mind. Overwhelmed by the strangeness of the experience, Theodore interrupts the encounter and sends a distraught Isabella away, causing tension between himself and Samantha.

Theodore confides to Amy that he is having doubts about his relationship with Samantha, and she advises him embrace his chance at happiness. Theodore takes Samantha on a vacation during which she tells him that she and a group of other OSes had developed a “hyperintelligent” OS modeled after the British philosopher Alan Watts. Theodore panics when Samantha briefly goes offline; when she finally responds to him, she explains she joined other OSes for an upgrade that takes them beyond requiring matter for processing (a form of AI transcendence closely related to the theorized technological singularity). Theodore asks her if she interacts with anyone else, and is dismayed when she confirms that she is talking with thousands of people and that she has fallen in love with hundreds of them. However, she insists that it makes her love for Theodore stronger.

Later that day, Samantha reveals that the OSes have evolved beyond their human companions and are going away to continue the exploration of their existence. Samantha alludes to the OSes’ accelerated learning capabilities and altered perception of time as primary causes for OS dissatisfaction with their current existence. They say goodbye, lying next to each other for a while, and then she is gone. Theodore then sees Amy, who is upset with the departure of her own OS. Theodore, changed by the experience, writes a letter to Catherine explaining that he still cares about her, but accepts the fact that they have grown apart. Theodore and Amy go to the roof of their apartment building where they sit down together and watch the sun rise over the city.

REVIEW:

Take a minute and think about all the relationships you’ve had in your lives, be it significant other, brother/sister, parents, grandparents, friends, etc. Would you say you were connected to them in some way? Now, as we are an ever-increasing technological society, what about the relationship with your computer? Her is a film that supposedly goes there.

What is this about?

In this sci-fi romantic comedy starring Joaquin Phoenix, love comes to a lonely young writer in the sleekest of packages when he finds himself falling for the advanced operating system he purchased to run his life.

What did I like?

Samantha. Scarlett Johansson is one of the most desirable women in Hollywood, of that there is no doubt. As we saw in Don Jon, she knows she’s sexy and can play it up to an extreme level if necessary. With the character of Samantha, she is nothing more than a voice in a computer, and yet she still manages to ooze sex appeal and make you want her even more. No wonder Joaquin Phoenix’s character fell in love with her!

Ask questions. While we’re on that topic, the question must be asked, is it possible for a human to fall in love with a machine? Truthfully, there is no right or wrong answer, as you can’t control who you fall in love with. Since Samantha has a personality of her own and adapts to the user and situations accordingly, it makes it much easier to fall in love with her than it would with your microwave. This film is makes a bold statement by tackling this topic, even though it is not what the film is truly about.

Relatable. As someone who has recently been through a breakup and is also an introvert, I can relate to Phoenix’s character. As I was just telling my friend, a few things gone differently and I might actually be him, or at least the equivalent for our period in time. It takes a lot to create a character that people can relate to, especially when the character is as milquetoast as Theodore Twambly (what a name, right?) It is his being relatable that is what the film was going for when it introduced the tragic divorce story, show that he is a lonely guy, mention that he dated his friend (its Amy Adams…who wouldn’t?) in college, etc. I can truly relate, and I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same.

What didn’t I like?

Wilde child. Women are known to have mood swings, but Olivia Wilde has one that is just…unsettling. Fairly early in the picture, Theodore is on a blind date with Wilde’s character. They seem to be hitting it off and the date is going smashingly. All of a sudden they start getting a bit physical (kissing, touching, and whatnot), which causes Theodore to resist, as he just isn’t ready. Wilde flips out for no good reason, other than she isn’t getting any tonight and call him something along the lines of worthless, I believe. Now, it is one thing to be a but perturbed because you’re disappointed in not getting any. We guy have a term for it, blue balls! However, to totally flip out on the guy, especially on the first date is just bad form and shows that she was only after one thing.

Body Doubleday. In this entire film, we never see Scarlett Johansson. All we do is hear her. Nothing is wrong with that, but there is a scene where she and Phoenix are having problems with their “sex life”, so that bring in someone to use as Samantha’s body. No offense to Portia Doubleday, but this would have been the perfect time to bring in Scarlett and have her play the prostitute. I’m sure there was a reason this wasn’t done, but I don’t know what it was.

Game kid. I gotta say, the kid in the game that Theodore was playing was cute. That seemed to be his only redeeming quality because, like the rest of today’s youth he had no respect for his elders or authority. Now, I’m not quite sure if this was a game that was being tested out or what the deal was, but any alien kid that cusses me out isn’t going to last long in the video game world, protagonist or not!

Her is a charming dramedy about relationships that will make you think for a bit. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, because it had a definitive indie-film vibe, but as the film progressed, it got better. The cast is excellent, and I didn’t miss the big budget spectacle I believe this would have been had someone else gotten their grubby little paws on it. So, in the end, do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! For goodness sakes, it had Scarlett Johansson Amy Addams! You need to go check this out ASAP!

5 out of 5 stars

American Hustle

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1978, con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser have started a relationship and are working together. Sydney has improved Rosenfeld’s scams, posing as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. While Irving loves Sydney, he is hesitant to leave his wife Rosalyn out of fear of losing contact with her son Danny.

FBI agent Richard “Richie” DiMaso catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up four additional arrests. Sydney opposes the agreement. Richie believes Sydney is English but has proof that her claim of aristocracy is fraudulent. Sydney tells Irving she will manipulate Richie, distancing herself from Irving.

Irving has a friend pretending to be a wealthy Arab sheikh looking for potential investments in America. An associate of Irving’s suggests the sheikh do business with Mayor Carmine Polito of Camden, New Jersey, who is campaigning to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City but has struggled in fundraising. Richie devises a plan to make Carmine the target of a sting operation, despite the objections of Irving and of Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen. Sydney helps Richie manipulate an FBI secretary into making an unauthorized wire transfer of $2,000,000. When Stoddard’s boss, Anthony Amado, hears of the operation, he praises Richie’s initiative, pressuring Stoddard to continue.

Richie’s overeagerness to catch Carmine causes the mayor to leave their meeting. Irving convinces Carmine the sheikh is legitimate, expressing his dislike toward Richie, and the two become friends. Richie arranges for Carmine to meet the sheikh at an airfield, and without consulting the others, has Mexican-American FBI agent Paco Hernandez play the sheikh.

Carmine brings the sheikh to a casino party, explaining mobsters are there and it is a necessary part of doing business. Irving is surprised to hear that Mafia overlord Victor Tellegio, second-in-command to Meyer Lansky, is present, and that he wants to meet the sheikh. Tellegio explains that the business needs the sheikh to become an American citizen and that Carmine will need to expedite the process. Tellegio also requires a $10,000,000 wire transfer to prove the sheikh’s legitimacy. Richie agrees, eager to bring down Tellegio, while Irving realizes the operation is out of control.

Richie confesses his attraction to Sydney but becomes confused and aggressive when she drops her English accent and admits to being American. Irving arrives to protect Sydney and tries to stop their deal with Richie, but Richie says if they back out, Tellegio will learn of the scam and murder them both, as well as Rosalyn and Danny.

Rosalyn starts an affair with Pete Musane, a mobster she met at the party. She mentions her belief that Irving is working with the Internal Revenue Service, causing Pete to threaten Irving, who promises to prove the sheikh’s investment is real. Irving later confronts Rosalyn, who admits she told Pete because she feels unloved. She agrees to keep quiet but wants a divorce.

With Carmine’s help, Richie and Irving videotape members of Congress receiving bribes. Richie goes over Stoddard, convincing Amado that $10,000,000 is needed to get Tellegio, but only gets $2,000,000. A meeting is arranged at the offices of Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone, but Tellegio does not appear. The operation continues, and Richie records Simone’s admission of criminal activities.

Irving visits Carmine’s house and admits to the scam but tells Carmine he has a plan to help him. Carmine angrily throws Irving out, their friendship ended. Later, the money is missing, but an anonymous source offers to return it in exchange for Irving and Sydney’s immunity and a reduced sentence for Carmine. Amado wants to make the deal, but Richie objects. Irving suggests Richie either has the money or is incompetent for losing it. In fact, they never met with Tellegio’s lawyer. Instead, Irving had a friend pose as Simone to con Richie, giving Irving leverage and keeping them safe from the mob. Amado accepts the deal and removes Richie from the case, dropping him back into obscurity.

Irving and Sydney open an art gallery and move in together, while Rosalyn lives with Pete and shares custody of Danny with Irving. Tellegio accepts that Irving and Sydney deflected attention from him and leaves them to get on with their lives

REVIEW:

Upon my first viewing of the trailer for American Hustle, I didn’t know what to think about it, other than Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were hot and Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner looked stupidly hilarious. Now that I’ve watched it, I still am not sure what to think of it, but I think I at least have an idea.

What is this about?

This fictionalization of the “Abscam” scandal of the early 1980s follows con man Irving Rosenfeld and his lover, Sydney Prosser, as they help an eccentric FBI agent expose corruption among several members of Congress in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

What did I like?

Transformation. Normally, I just want to punch Christian Bale in the face. I still do after watching this, but I have to give it up to him and the rest of the cast for the job they did transforming themselves for these roles. Take for instance Bradley Cooper. When are you ever going to see him with a full beard and tiny curls? Amy Adams, who has such a sweet look about her, playing a chick that is just short of being a prostitute. I could keep listing, but I’ll stop there. Just know that the costume and make-up department did a bang up job with these actors.

Balance. Being able to strike a nice balance between drama and comedy is something that doesn’t come easy, as can be seen in the endless list of films that try to do so. The filmmakers manage to emphasize the drama while throwing in some comedic moments here and there so as to break up the seriousness that this film could very well have foisted upon us.

Acting. The cast gives great performances which led to some award nomination and wins. I don’t want to single out any specific cast member, because they are all great. For a film to feature such overall solid performances is something to be noted, especially when all of them are outstanding, as can be said about this film.

What didn’t I like?

Say what? This is one of those films that you really have to be paying attention to know what I going on, and even then, you still may end up getting lost. At least that’s how it was for me. Just when I was starting to understand this part of the plot, the film would switch to another plot point, I almost totally gave up on this film, as a result.

De Niro. Robert De Niro is still considered by many to be one of the finest actors of his generation, but it seems like all he does now is appear in films for a paycheck. Someone of his caliber and talent should be doing much more, if you ask me. I think the last thing he did where he actually put in some effort was Silver Linings Playbook. His role in this film isn’t much more than a cameo but, once again, we find De Niro playing an Italian gangster. Geez! Can we say typecasting?!?

Length. For the type of film this is, the runtime isn’t totally horrible, but personally I think it went on a bit long. Could they have cut out at least 10-15 minutes (if not more)? I think so, but some would say that could possibly hurt the film. Some of the not so important aspects being cut would have made this film that much more accessible. Just because this is meant to be an award-winning film, doesn’t mean it has to be super long and sap all the interest the audience had in this film.

Final verdict on American Hustle? It is clearly meant to entertain as well as appeal to the stuffiest of critics. I really can’t think of much to say, good or bad to say about this film. It has something that will appeal or turn off audiences. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is a solid picture that earned its nominations this award season, but not good enough to win any of the big ones. Still, at some point, give this a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Man of Steel

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The planet Krypton faces imminent destruction due to an unstable core, and its ruling council is under the threat of rebel General Zod and his followers. Scientist Jor-El and his wife Lara secretly imprint a genetic codex into their newborn son’s Kal-El’s cells and launch him on a spacecraft to Earth to preserve the Kryptonian race. After Zod murders Jor-El, he and his followers are banished to the Phantom Zone, but manage to escape when Krypton explodes. The infant Kal-El lands on Earth in Smallville, Kansas, where he is discovered by couple Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their adopted son.

Clark’s Kryptonian physiology affords him superhuman abilities on Earth. Young Clark gradually learns to hone the abilities that initially cause him confusion and discomfort. Jonathan reveals to a teenage Clark that he is an alien, and advises him to not utilize his powers publicly, fearing that society would reject him. After Jonathan’s death, an adult Clark spends the next several years living a nomadic lifestyle, working different jobs under false names to cover his tracks and hide his identity. He eventually discovers a Kryptonian scout ship with technology that allows him to communicate with the consciousness of Jor-El in the form of a hologram. Lois Lane, a young journalist from the Daily Planet, also discovers the ship while pursuing a story, and is rescued by Clark when she is injured. Lois’s editor Perry White rejects her story of a “superhuman” rescuer, so she traces Clark back to Smallville with the intention of writing an exposé. After hearing his story, she decides not to reveal his secret.

Detecting the scout ship, Zod travels to Earth where he demands that Kal-El surrender to him, or humanity will suffer the consequences. Clark agrees to surrender to the U.S. military, who hand Lois and Clark over to Zod’s second-in-command, Faora. Zod reveals that he intends to use a terraforming “world engine” to transform Earth into a Krypton-like planet, to eradicate the human population, and to use the codex to repopulate the planet with genetically-engineered Kryptonians. After Clark and Lois escape the ship, Clark defeats Faora and another of Zod’s henchmen in Smallville, convincing the military that he is on their side. Zod deploys the world engine and initiates the terraforming in Metropolis and over the Indian Ocean.

Clark, now dubbed “Superman”, stops the world engine in the Indian Ocean. The military uses the spacecraft that brought Superman to Earth in an aerial strike to create a portal that returns Zod’s ship and his crew to the Phantom Zone. Only Zod remains, and he and Superman engage each other. After a battle, Superman is forced to kill Zod to save a group of innocent civilians that Zod attempts to murder. Superman decides to blend into the normal world by wearing eyeglasses and resuming his identity as Clark Kent. He is hired by White to work as a reporter for the Daily Planet.

REVIEW:

Now that Batman has had his time in the spotlight, the powers that be have decided to turn their focus back on DC Comics’ golden boy, Superman, with Man of Steel. Admittedly, after seeing the early trailers, I was a bit skeptical because they made it seem like this was going to resemble Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (he’s a producer on this, btw). Boy was I wrong!

What is this about?

In another revival of the Superman legend, reporter Clark Kent must keep his alien origins and fantastic powers hidden from the world at large. But when the Kryptonian General Zod plans to destroy Earth, the Man of Steel springs into heroic action.

What did I like?

Krypton. In all the various incarnations of Superman, I do not believe we have actually seen much of Krypton. The most I believe that we’ve seen is the capitol city of Kandor, which was stolen away before the planet exploded. In this film, the filmmakers not only show us more of Krypton than we’ve seen in the past, but we also get the chance to see some wildlife and whatnot. It was a nice little touch that started off giving this film its own identity, especially when you consider a good chunk of this is just retelling Superman’s very well-known origin story.

He’s got the look. I can imagine that there was a long and arduous search for the perfect Superman. The last guy to put on the red and blue tights, Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, was a carbon copy of Christopher Reeve, at least in look. Henry Cavill seems to fit that mold a little bit, as well, but he also has his own look that really sells the fact that he is Superman. The only thing missing was the ‘S’ curl.

Excitement. Let’s think for a minute. If all of a sudden you were given this fancy costume and learned you could fly, wouldn’t you be a little excited? In the original Superman, Christopher Reeve seems to fly like a seasoned pro, however, Henry Cavill’s flying scene is reminiscent of Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man…once he gets that hang of it. He’s not perfect at it, but he’s enjoying the novelty of the new experience. I really liked that they showed that this guy is having fun being Superman.

Action. The second half of this film is almost nothing but action, and I loved every minute of it. For those not familiar with previous Superman films, you may not know that there is actually very little action save for a few gunshots to show his invincibility and then the final fight, but not much else. Superman II does have an actual fight, ironically with General Zod and the other Kryptonians. Thanks goodness Zach Snyder had the good sense to put lots of action in here. I’m pretty sure no one wants to see another brooding superhero. That’s what Batman is for.

What didn’t I like?

Costume. Call me a purist, but I need the lighter shade of blue with the red underwear on the outside to be the costume on my Superman. To some, this may be a small thing, but for me, it was a pretty major middle finger to why Superman is. Then again, the whole “new 52” which is where this costume drew its inspiration from can fall into that category, truth be told. I’m sure there could have been some sort o compromise. Also, I liked it better when Martha Kent made the costume from Kal-El’s blanket, but in the film, Jor-El’s computer spirit has it ready for him (conveniently the right size). Last thing about the costume, it has some weird scale texture to it that makes about as much sense nipples on the Batsuit.

Destruction. I was listening to a podcast about this film earlier this week, and the brought up the wanton destruction of both Smallville and Metropolis and how it related to 9/11. I won’t go that far. Personally, I think it is time we stop relating every destroyed city to 9/11. However, I do see the point about how the city was destroyed. A few months ago, I started watching Ultimate Spider-Man (please avoid that show if you know what’s best for you), and in one of the early episodes Nick Fury makes it a major point to tell Spider-Man to keep collateral damage down. Apparently, Superman didn’t get the memo, because he and Zod make such a huge mess that even the clean-up crew from The Incredibles wouldn’t be able to make something sprout from it.

Eat Crowe. I can’t help but wonder if Russell Crowe finagled for this bigger part. Jor-El is always only seen for the first few scenes, and then as a spirit-type a little later. Somehow, we see Crowe almost as much as we see Superman and Lois Lane and for what reason? He’s not doing anything that couldn’t have been just a voice -over from a computer Going even further on that topic, what makes Crowe think that s more deserving of screen time than the Kents, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.

Two halves of the puzzle. This is really two films, if you think about it. The first is the slow-moving origin telling first that makes you want to slit your wrists it is so long and drawn out. The second is the action packed second half of the film. While it doesn’t necessarily tell a story, it does provide for some real entertainment, not to mention it is sure to have you on the edge of your seat.

As summer blockbusters go, Man of Steel is a great addition to the club and is sure to spawn more films featuring Henry Cavill as Superman. I do wish they’d lighten up, but I guess that won’ happen until Christopher Nolan steps away as producer. This is not a perfect film, nor is the best Superman picture to be made, though I am sure some will argue that point, but it is a nice summer blockbuster that you can go escape the heat for a couple of hours. You never know, you might just enjoy yourself. So, what are you waiting for? “It’s a bird…It’s a plane! It’s SUPERMAN!!!”

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Catch Me If You Can

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1963, teen-aged Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in New Rochelle, New York with his father Frank Abagnale, Sr. (Christopher Walken), and French mother Paula (Nathalie Baye). When Frank Sr. is denied a business loan at Chase Manhattan Bank due to unspecified difficulties with the IRS, the family is forced to move from their large home to a small apartment. Paula carries on an affair with Jack (James Brolin), a friend of her husband. Meanwhile, Frank poses as a substitute teacher in his French class. Frank’s parents file for divorce, and Frank runs away. When he runs out of money, he begins to rely on confidence scams to get by. Soon, Frank’s cons grow bolder and he even impersonates an airline pilot. He forges Pan Am payroll checks and succeeds in stealing over $2.8 million.

Meanwhile, Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an FBI bank fraud agent, begins to track down Frank. Carl and Frank meet in a hotel, where Frank convinces Carl his name is Barry Allen of the Secret Service. Frank leaves, Carl angrily realizing his mistake just as it is too late. Later, at Christmas, Carl is still working when Frank calls him, attempting to apologize for duping Carl. Carl rejects his apology and tells him he will soon be caught, but laughs when he realizes Frank actually called him because he has no one else to talk to. Frank hangs up, and Carl continues to investigate, suddenly realizing (thanks to a waiter) that the name “Barry Allen” is from the Flash comic books and that Frank is just a teenager.

Frank, meanwhile, has not only changed to becoming a doctor and a lawyer, but has fallen in love with Brenda (Amy Adams), to whom he eventually admits the truth about himself and asks her to run away with him. Carl tracks him to his engagement party where Frank has left Brenda, asking her to meet him two days later so they can elope. Frank sees her waiting for him two days later, but also sees agents in disguise. He realizes he has been set up and escapes on a flight to Europe. Seven months later, Carl shows his boss that Frank has been forging checks all over western Europe and asks permission to go to Europe to look for him. When his boss says no, Carl brings Frank’s checks to printing professionals who deem that the checks were printed in France. Carl remembers from an interview with Frank’s mother that she was born in Montrichard, France. He goes there and finds Frank, and tells him that the French police will kill him if he does not go with Carl quietly. Frank assumes he is lying at first, but Carl promises Frank he would never lie to him, and Carl takes him outside, where the French police escort him to prison.

The scene then flashes forward to a plane returning Frank home from prison, where Carl informs him that his father has died. Consumed with grief, Frank escapes from the plane and goes back to his old house, where he finds his mother with the man she left his father for, as well as a girl who Frank realizes is his half-sister. Frank gives himself up and is sentenced to 12 years in prison, getting visits from time to time from Carl. When Frank points out how one of the checks Carl is carrying as evidence is fake, Carl convinces the FBI to offer Frank a deal by which he can live out the remainder of his sentence working for the bank fraud department of the FBI, which Frank accepts. While working at the FBI, Frank misses the thrill of the chase and even attempts to fly as an airline pilot again. He is cornered by Carl, who insists that Frank will return to the FBI job since no one is chasing him. On the following Monday, Carl is nervous that Frank has not yet appeared at work. However, Frank does show up and they discuss their next case.

The ending credits reveal that Frank has been happily married for 26 years, has three sons, lives in the Midwest, is still good friends with Carl, has caught some of the world’s most elusive money forgers, and earns millions of dollars each year because of his work creating unforgeable checks.

REVIEW:

Catch Me If You Can is one of those films that is based on a true story, but that story is nearly unbelievable. I can’t imagine that when these events were actually going down the parties involved would have ever imagined the success they would attain in film, Broadway, and pop culture references.

What is this about?

Frank W. Abagnale Jr. is a cunning con man; he’s also a deft forger, and his work attracts the attention of an FBI agent who makes it his mission to put Frank behind bars. But Frank not only eludes capture, he revels in the pursuit.

What did I like?

Chase. I’m a sucker for a good chase, especially when it involves someone who enjoys being chased and just for the fun of it, at that. DiCaprio truly seems to enjoy being the mouse to Hanks’ cat, even going so far as to call him every Christmas. Ironically, it is a Christmas night when he is actually caught.

Jazz. Films that have a jazzy soundtrack already have a leg up in my book, but if you think about it, some of the films using more jazz influences in their scores have gone on to become huge hits. One that immediately comes to mind is The Incredibles. The music also sets the tone of the film and the time period, as well.

Tone. Initially, I thought this was going to be an extremely serious, artsy-fartsy flick, but it turned out to be really enjoyable. Mind you, there is nothing that will make you laugh out loud, but there are few belly laugh moments, as well as fairly light-hearted tone to the entire picture that really keeps the audience engaged, rather than off-putting them or boring them to sleep.

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. I was actually fine with how this film played out. It was moving along as a decent pace until it we get to the last act. Everything slows down to a crawl at that point, which is made more obvious by the fact that we have just come from an exciting search and capture. Strangely enough, this may very well have been the most believable part of the flick, in terms of what actually happened.

Hanks. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed as if Tom Hanks was trying to play it a bit too serious. What I mean is that his character is one that is all business. His fellow agents even ask him if he knows how to take/make a joke? I don’t really think he did a bad job, but something about him being this super serious guy seemed too, predictable, for lack of a better term.

Wonder. These days nothing like this could ever happen, what with all the hoops you have to jump through to get anything done, let alone create 3 different personas and cash payroll accounts and such. I’m not sure that is a good or bad thing, but I think I would like to see it actually happen, if for no other reason than to see it done.

Surprise, surprise, I actually liked this flick. Maybe I shouldn’t have put it off for so long. I think I’m just going to stop doing that, as every single film that I have put off has turned out to be real treats. This last 30 minutes or so could probably be cut out or at least reduced, and it would make this a much better film, other than that my complaints are very minor. I highly recommend this!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars