Archive for Louis C.K.

The Secret Life of Pets

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Living an easy life, happy terrier Max sees his world upended when his owner brings home Duke, a mongrel Max regards as a loser. But the two soon find themselves allied against a horde of abandoned pets looking to turn the tables on humans.

What people are saying:

“In much the same way that the smash Zootopia demonstrated that creatures of different culture and class and species are better off when they come together, The Secret Life of Pets is a testament to teamwork and friendship and fixing the rifts that divide us. Let the fur – and the warm, fuzzy feelings – fly.” 3 stars

“Draws on the universal experience of pet ownership to draw out the “awww” in all of us. But the film butt-scoots by on its premise. There’s not much more going on, thematically or emotionally below the surface.” 3 1/2 stars

“Quite disappointed. Not at all what I was expecting from the trailer! I thought this was going to be a cute, funny movie about the trouble that pets will get into everyday but then hide all evidence of it just before the owners get home. No not at all. It’s a movie about a big dumb bully who goes out of his way to destroy the life-style of the main character. But wait, it changes to “oh let’s work together and we can all be friends BS”. Ugh. more moral crap. And don’t forget, there’s psycho bunny who wants to kill all humans! At least he’s funny.” 1 star

“It certainly won’t be winning any awards for originality and you’ll probably feel like you’ve seen the story a thousand times before, but with its colorful animation, great voice cast and enough funny moments sprinkled throughout, particularly when it comes down to finding clever ways of portraying the typical animal behavior that all pet owners will recognize, it may be just charming and cute enough to hold your attention.” 2 1/2 stars

“The problem with The Secret Life of Pets is that we’ve seen it before. This movie borrows most of its tricks from Toy Story, Oliver & Company, Flushed Away and other animated features that came before it. It doesn’t really have anything to make it stand out from the crowd. This isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t anything special.” 3 stars

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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

The Invention of Lying

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film features a high concept narrative set in an alternate reality in which there is no such thing as lying and everything said is the absolute truth. In this world people make blunt, often cruel statements, including those that people would normally keep to themselves. There is a lack of religious belief, and the absence of fiction results in a movie industry limited to lecture-style historical readings, and advertisements as bluntly truthful as the people are.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is an unsuccessful lecture-film writer who is assigned to write about the 1300s, a “very boring” era. One night he goes out on a date with the beautiful, charming and wealthy Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells Mark she is not attracted to him, due to his looks and unsuccessful financial situation, but is going out with him to satisfy her extremely prejudicial mother and as a favour to Mark’s friend Greg Kleinschmidt (Louis C.K.).

The next day Mark is fired from his job due to lack of interest in his films, and his landlord evicts him for not paying his rent. Depressed, he goes to the bank to close his account. The teller informs him that the computers are down, and asks him how much money he has in his account. Mark has an epiphany and tells the world’s first lie, that he has $800 in his account. The computer comes back online and shows his balance is $300 but the teller gives him the full $800 anyway, assuming that the computer made a mistake.

Mark then lies in a variety of other circumstances, including telling an attractive woman that the world will end unless they have sex, preventing a police officer (Edward Norton in a cameo) from arresting his friend Greg for DUI, getting money from a casino, and stopping his neighbour Frank Fawcett (Jonah Hill) from committing suicide. He then writes a screenplay about the world being invaded by aliens in the 14th century and that the memories of all humans were erased. He becomes wealthy from the success of the film which he named “The Black Plague.”

Mark convinces Anna to go out with him again hoping she will see past his looks and weight now that he is financially secure. On their date Anna congratulates Mark for his success and admits that he would be a good husband and father. She is still not attracted to him because if they ever have children Mark would contribute half of the heredity to their children, making them “fat kids with snub noses” and Anna does not want that. Mark then gets a call that his mother had a heart attack and rushes to the hospital. There, the doctor (Jason Bateman) tells him that his mother is going to die. She is terrified of death, believing that death will bring an eternity of nothingness. Mark, through tears, tells her that death instead brings a joyful afterlife, introducing the concept of a Heaven to her, and she dies happy while the doctors and nurses appear awed by what he says.

Mark soon receives worldwide attention for his supposed new information about death. Under pressure from Anna, he tells them, through “ten rules”, he talks to a “Man In The Sky” who controls everything and promises great rewards in the good place after you die so long as you do no more than three “bad things.” Some time later Anna and Mark are hanging out together in a park and Anna asks him if they marry would being rich and famous make their children not fat with snub noses. Mark wants to lie but doesn’t because of his feelings for Anna.

Meanwhile Mark’s rival Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe) pursues Anna romantically, motivated because of Mark’s success. However Brad’s blunt, rude manner makes Anna uncomfortable though she continues dating him; they become engaged. Anna invites Mark to the wedding. Mark tries to convince her to not marry Brad but fails. Anna goes to the park she first went to with Mark and sees a slightly overweight child with an ice cream when some thinner boys come and mush his ice cream into his shirt. She yells at them and then they run away. She runs up to the boy and wipes away his tears while asking his name. He replies ‘Short Fat Brian’ to which she tells him: ‘you are so much more than just that.’

Before the wedding Mark’s friend Greg shows up and tells him that he didn’t lose her yet and Mark reluctantly attends Anna and Brad’s wedding. There, he objects to the marriage, but the officiant informs him that only the Man in the Sky can stop the wedding. Brad and Anna both ask Mark to ask the Man in the Sky what Anna should do but Mark refuses to say anything and leaves, wanting Anna to choose for herself. Anna walks out and Mark confesses his ability to lie and that the Man In The Sky he told everyone about was made up. Anna struggles to comprehend the concept and asks why he didn’t lie to convince her to marry him; Mark states that it “wouldn’t count.” Anna confesses that she loves him.

Some time later, the now-pregnant Anna and Mark are shown married with a son, who has learned his father’s ability to lie

REVIEW:

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone told nothing but the truth? Well, that is the world that The Invention of Lying is set in.

I’ve been postponing this film every week since it was released on DVD, thinking it might be nothing more than another one of those dramedy flicks that seem to be becoming more and more prevalent. I won’t say this isn’t one of those, but it does start off hilarious, especially when you think about the fact that these people can do nothing bt tell the truth.

The bluntness of these people is hilarious to us, but to them it is just everyday conversations. For instance, Jennifer Garner flat-out tells Ricky Gervais that she’s not attracted to him and he’s fat and has a snub nose. Granted, these kind of things happen today in our society, but for some reason, the way she said it was funny.

The plot of this film is something that we don’t see very often…an original story! Kudos to Ricky Gervais for coming up with this. I actually thought this may have been a book, Twilight Zone episode, or short story, but apparently not.

The acting here is a little dry for my taste. That is not to say that it is bad, it just is that humor that Gervais brought to audiences with the original The Office and tends to do in everything he does. For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here, it works initially, then fades away and becomes more of a nuisance than anything.

I mention how the film starts out hilarious than tapers off. I’m not sure if that is because the joke gets old, or if it does indeed turn more towards the drama angle, but whatever the reason, it deeply affects the film, which is truly a shame, because if they wold have kept up the pace and tone of the first part of the film, this could have been great.

Instead, in typical Gervais fashion, they have to go and smack society in the face with our shortcomings and such and his character is the one that is the one to start it all. Don;t even get me started on that whole Jesus beard he had going near the end.

I must mention that Rob Lowe does play a pretty good douchebag slimeball villain. Of course, this character is actually not much different that the one he played in Wayne’s World, so it should come as no surprise. The guy does bring something different to the table when he’s on screen, though.

Would I recommend The Invention of Lying? Yes, but I wouldn’t go rush out to find it. Nothing about this film is memorable. Hell, I just finished watching it and already I’ve forgotten about a good chunk of it! Still, I did enjoy and think this is worth a viewing or two.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars