Archive for Marisa Tomei

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.

Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.

Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.

Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker is able to escape the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in.

In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.

REVIEW:

With all the success Marvel has had with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), they could not say they truly were a success story until there was a Spider-Man film under their wing. With Sony holding the rights to the character (not to mention the Fantastic Four) hostage, many were wondering if we would ever see the day when Spidey would grace the big screen in the MCU…then we saw Captain America: Civil War. Now, Spider-Man: Homecoming aims to take that character introduction and flesh out a third cinematic version of Peter Parker. Hey, at least this one is age-appropriate, right?

What is this about?

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

What did I like?

Fun. Audiences and critics have been noticing something in superhero films (and TV shows). A lack of fun! Think about how bright and vibrant Superman is and now think about what we were forced to sit through with Man of Steel. Somewhere along the way, our superheroes stopped being beacons of hope, and turned into examples of how to brood. Spider-Man has not been exempt from this curse. Toby Maguire’s version started out pretty good, but couldn’t keep it up. I never cared for Andrew Garfield or his take on the character, so I won’t waste time on him. Tom Holland brings a fresh take to Spider-Man in that we haven’t seen him as a high schooler, at least not an age appropriate high schooler. With that, the fun and innocence that Stan Lee intended for the character is front and center, as are the awkward moments of being a teenager. Again, this is what Stan Lee envision when he first created him, not some attitude having, puffy haired, British string bean who ruins the character of Peter Parker.

We know the story. Look, if you don’t know the origin of Spider-Man by now, either through comics, cartoons, Watchmojo.com, Wikipedia, or whatever, then chances are you either don’t care or just haven’t bothered to learn yourself something. With that said, I join the billions of fans who saw this and noticed the absence of Uncle Ben’s murder. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even mentioned! We are more than aware than Ben gets shot and its Peter’s fault, but in the last 5 Spider-Man movies, we have either seen this happen or been privy to a bevy of flashbacks so that we can relive the scene ad naseum. Thank goodness the 6th time they got it right and didn’t include anything about the murder…though I do hope in future films we get something on what happened. I’m mostly curious as to who they’ll cast as Uncle Ben to pair with Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May

Cap must’ve needed the money. One of the best cameos in the picture is Captain America doing PSAs. While I was laughing when Cap showed up in these videos, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was doing them. Did the government make him? Is he just being a good guy and attempting to help the youth? Just some thoughts that popped in my head. I’m sure that I am just overanalyzing and  these were nothing more than a funny thing to include in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Homage or ripoff? About halfway through the picture, there is a scene where Spider-Man has to use all of his strength to hold two halves of a dissected boat together. As I was sitting there watching him strain, I couldn’t help but recall the train sequence in Spider-Man 2 when Toby Maguire is called on to use all of his strength to stop the train. Many people have noticed this comparison and now I must ask…is this an homage or a ripoff? I see it more as an homage, personally. The scene in question is from what is arguably the best Spider-Man film to date, so why wouldn’t you bring something from that great film into this new version? Also, if it was a ripoff, I think we’d have a seen something involving the subway, I’m sure.

What a shock! Shocker is one of my favorite in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. I can’t tell you why, but I have this affinity for him. Maybe it’s the Texas connection?!? At any rate, I was over the hills with excitement when I heard the announcement he was going to be in this film. Then I saw him and my jaw dropped. This is not Shocker. He doesn’t even really don the costume, save for the sleeves on his jacket. How is it we can get nearly every detail right with superheroes, but for the villains they just seem to wear similar colors to their comic counterparts. I wonder why that is!

A change will do you good. My first introduction to the Vulture was as an elderly gentlemen who was running part of the criminal organizations in NYC. Obviously, there are some differences between that idea and the one we see on the screen. Most importantly, the family man version of the character remained intact. So, why would I not like the change in history? Well, just this week, some promotional photos were released for Deadpool 2, specifically images of the mutant, Domino. I bring this up because she’s quite the curvy wonder in the pics, it is the sudden realization that she is now to be played by an actress of color…complete with afro and some weird face that causes her to look like a dog. What is the reason for this change? No real reason, they just wanted someone of ethnicity to play a character who has plae white skin.

Final verdict on Spider-Man:Homecoming? This is the superhero film we’ve all been clamoring for. It has action, humor, sci-fi, crime, and even a love story. What is there to not like? While Marvel and Sony are sure to fight over who gets credit here, really it is the fans and moviegoers that win. Do  I recommend  this? Emphatically yes! The cons are few and the pros are many. Go check it out!

5 out of 5 stars

 

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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 Big Short

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2005, eccentric hedge fund manager Michael Burry discovers that the U.S. housing market is extremely unstable, being based on high-risk subprime loans. Anticipating that the market will collapse during the second quarter of 2007, as interest rates would rise on many adjustable-rate mortgages, he envisions an opportunity to profit. His plan is to create a credit-default swap market, allowing him to bet against the mortgage-backed securities that are based on the housing market. He proposes his idea to several major investment and commercial banks. These firms, believing that the housing market is secure, readily accept his proposal. Burry’s huge long-term bet, in excess of $1 billion, entails paying substantial “premiums” to the banks. This proviso incurs his clients’ ire because they believe that he was wasting their capital. Many demand that he reverse course and sell his swaps, but Burry, confident in his analysis, refuses. When the rate-hike arrives and begins triggering heavy mortgage failures, however, the freefall he anticipates did not occur. As he later discovers, the banks collude with a major bond-rating company to maintain high ratings on bonds that were essentially worthless. This ploy allows the banks to sell off their losing positions before the true value of the bonds became known. Pressed by his investors, Burry restricts withdrawals from his fund, again angering his investors. Eventually, as the housing market collapsed as he predicted, the value of his fund increases by a net of 489% with an overall profit of over $2.5 billion, but the backlash he received from his investors, coupled with his own sense of disgust for the industry, convinces him to close down his fund.

Salesperson Jared Vennett is one of the first to understand Burry’s analysis, learning about Burry’s actions from one of the bankers that sold Burry an early credit default swap. Vennett uses his quant to verify that Burry’s predictions are likely true and decides to put his own stake in the credit default swap market, earning a fee on selling the swaps to firms who understand that they will be profitable when the underlying mortgage bonds fail. A misplaced phone call alerts hedge fund manager Mark Baum to his plans, and Baum is convinced to buy credit default swaps from Vennett due to his own personal distaste with the big banks. Vennett explains that the impending market collapse is being further perpetuated by the packaging of poor, unsellable loans into CDOs large enough to be considered diversified and thus given AAA ratings. Baum sends some of his staff to investigate the housing market in Miami, and they discover that mortgage brokers make more money if they only sell risky mortgages to the Wall Street banks – and these mortgages are so easy to acquire that a speculative housing bubble has been created. In early 2007, the mortgages loans begin to default, but the prices of the corresponding bonds increase and their ratings remain the same. When Baum questions an acquaintance at Standard & Poor’s, he discovers there is conflict of interest and dishonesty amongst the credit rating agencies. When Baum’s employees question Vennett’s motives, Vennett maintains his position and invites Baum and his team to the American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas, where Baum interviews CDO manager Wing Chau, who creates CDOs on behalf of an investment bank while claiming to represent the interests of investors. Chau describes how synthetic CDOs make a chain of increasingly large bets on the faulty loans, involving twenty times as much money as the loans themselves. Baum realizes, much to his horror, that the scale of the fraud will cause a complete collapse of the global economy. Baum convinces his business partners to go through with more credit default swaps, profiting from the situation at the banks’ expense. Baum laments that the banks will not accept any of the blame for the crisis.

Eager young investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley accidentally discover a prospectus by Vennett, which convinces them to become involved in the credit default swaps, as it fits their strategy of buying cheap insurance with big potential payouts. Since they are below the capital threshold for an ISDA Master Agreement needed to pull off the trades necessary to profit from the situation, they enlist the aid of retired securities trader Ben Rickert. When the value of mortgage bonds and CDOs rise despite the rise in defaults, Geller suspects the banks of committing fraud and thinks they should buy more swaps. The three visit the Mortgage Securities Forum in Las Vegas, where they learn that the Securities Exchange Commission has no regulations to monitor the activity of mortgage-backed securities. They manage to successfully make an even higher-payout deal than the other hedge funds by shorting the higher rated mortgage securities, as they will become worthless if defaults rise above 8% and their real value is likely less than stated. Shipley and Geller are initially ecstatic, but Rickert is disgusted, since they’re essentially celebrating an impending economic collapse and soon-to-be-lost lives (40,000 for each 1% rise in the unemployment rate). The two are horrified, and take a much more emotional stake in the collapse by trying to tip off the press and their families about the upcoming disaster and the rampant fraud amongst the big banks. Ultimately, they profit immensely, but are left with their faith in the system broken.

A note is given that CDOs have come back into the current market, under a different name: “bespoke tranche opportunity”.

REVIEW:

Anyone who lives in the US is more than aware of the housing market crash that happened not too long ago, especially if you were one of those that owned and/or bought a house during that time. While many of us claim to know about that time, I’m sure when pressed we couldn’t tell you anything about it, other than some suff happened with the economy. Perhaps, The Big Short will clear some things up for us all.

What is this about?

Before the housing and credit bubble of 2007 triggers an international economic meltdown, a handful of financial outsiders sees the crash coming and bets against the big banks in a daring play that could reap them huge profits

What did I like?

The Office. Steve Carrell has made a name for himself as a comedic actor, but he isn’t afraid to veer off into drama every now and then, and isn’t too bad when he does so. Taking the reigns as one of the lead protagonists of this film, he shows us a character filled with range and depth, someone not happy with the way things are headed financially. Some have said that this is perhaps the best performance of his career.

Pitt and the pendulum. I’ve read more than a few articles calling Brad Pitt the “best actor of our generation”. I don’t quite agree with that statement, but I will rank him in the top 10. When he first showed up in the film, I couldn’t even tell it was him. Maybe it was the beard, the haircut, or the increased girth he was sporting, but he was unrecognizable. This wasn’t Brad Pitt playing a character, but rather Pitt becoming someone else, and that isn’t even going into the way he portrayed this character of Ben Rickert.

Break the walls down. When covering such confusing subject matter, it doesn’t hurt to break the fourth wall. Obviously, this isn’t a film like Deadpool, where breaking the fourth wall is done with comedic effect, instead it is done to inform the viewer about what is going on. I found this to be a nice touch and break up the constant monotony of big words and rooms full of business men in dark suits.

What didn’t I like?

Truth of the matter. Brace yourselves, I am about to scare you to near death. This is a true story, only the names have been changed. Did you know any of this was going on? I sure didn’t! With that in mind, what’s going on as I type this? Something worse? It isn’t hard to imagine so, and that (coupled with this lesser of two evils election) scared the bejesus out of me!

Tone. I will never complain about comic relief, as long as it is the right place. However, this film seemed to not know what it wants to be, a serious drama or something lighter with comedic moments. A lot of films and tv shows (not on HBO) seem to have this problem these days and it is a disturbing trend. Stop blurring the lines and either be funny or serious!

Dramatization. Like all biopics and true stories, facts and names were changed to protect the people involved and to put butts in the seats. Watching this flick reminded more of those dramatizations shown in documentaries, news shows, and such. It didn’t feel much like a motion picture, but rather something that was made for the sole purpose of telling what happened. Only later was the “story” added and names changed. Now, that is my opinion, I could be totally wrong.

Final verdict on The Big Short? There is one thing that this film makes more than abundantly clear. We, as a country, society, and human beings are way too dependent on money. So much so that rather that taking care of people who lose their homes, jobs, etc., folks are seeking to make more money while shifting the blame to others and seeking a bailout of some sort. It is just sickening. That being said, this is a film that brings home the point of what went down in the housing crisis of 2007. It gives a face to the people who tried to stop it, as well as those who ignored all the signs (maybe someone should do this with global warming!) All in all, it isn’t too bad a flick. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is worth a viewing, but it isn’t one of those pictures that you’ll be wanting to watch over and over again, unless you have some sadistic plan to watch the world burn by causing another financial crisis.

4 out of 5 stars

What Women Want

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nick Marshall, a Chicago advertising executive and alpha male, who grew up with his Las Vegas showgirl mother, is a chauvinist. He is skilled at selling to men and seducing women, including local coffee attendant Lola. However, just as he thinks he’s headed for a promotion, his manager, Dan, informs him that he is hiring the talents of Darcy McGuire instead, to broaden the firm’s appeal to women.

Also, his estranged 15-year-old daughter Alex is spending two weeks with him while his ex-wife Gigi goes on her honeymoon with her new husband. Alex is embarrassed by Nick, and resents his being protective when he meets her boyfriend.

Needing to prove himself to Darcy and Dan, Nick attempts to think of copy for a series of feminine products that Darcy distributed at the day’s staff meeting. However he slips and falls into his bathtub while holding an electric hairdryer, shocking himself. The next day, Nick wakes up able to understand his maid’s thoughts as she cleans his apartment. As he walks through a park and encounters numerous women, he realizes that he can hear their thoughts, even those of a female poodle. This proves to be an epiphany for him when he hears the thoughts of his female co-workers (some of whom have slept with him and regretted it). When he goes to a previous therapist, Dr. Perkins (who also disliked him), she realizes his gift: “If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, and you can speak Venutian, the world can be yours.”

Nick eavesdrops on women’s thoughts and uses their ideas as his own, but also begins to develop real friendships with his co-workers. But as he spends more time with Darcy, he is attracted to her. However when he tries to get closer to his daughter, she resents him for trying after so many years of neglect. Nick shrewdly suspects that her boyfriend, who is considerably older than Alex, plans to sleep with her and then dump her, but she does not want Nick’s advice.

Nick and Darcy begin to spend more time together, and ultimately they kiss. When he manages to trump Darcy out of her idea for a new Nike ad campaign aimed at women, he later regrets his selfishness, especially as it leads to her being fired.

Nick loses his gift during a storm while trying to find a company secretary, Erin, who (as his telepathic ability has shown him) is contemplating suicide. He is also reconciled with his daughter when her boyfriend rejects her. Nick finally visits Darcy and explains everything. She regains her job and Nick gets fired. But she forgives him, and agrees to save him from himself, to which he responds “My hero”.

REVIEW:

A question that has and will always plague us men is surely something we could get the answer to in a film entitled What Women Want, right? Not so fast! This is a film produced and directed by women, so you can imagine the point of view, right? Not so fast on that account, either!

What is this about?

Nick, a somewhat chauvinistic advertising exec hot shot, has his life turned haywire when a fluke accident enables him to hear what women think. At first all he wants to do is rid himself of this curse, until a wacky psychologist shows him that this could be used to his advantage! His first target is Darcy McGuire, the very woman who got the promotion he wanted. But just as his plan is beginning to work, love gets in the way…

What did I like?

Mel. First of all, this is way before he lost his mind and become anti-semitic shell of a man that he is now. With that out of the way, I have to say that he was really good. He brought a mix of machismo, comic timing, and a pinch of dramatic acting to the table and is one of the reasons this is such an enjoyable flick.

Women’s thoughts. The things these women think of throughout the course of the film, be it something as inane as Mel Gibson’s “sweet cheeks”, or their own body insecurities, or even the ramblings on about how they might kill themselves, it is interesting, as a guy, to hear these things. Now, if only someone would find a way to do this for real!

Lounge. I love, love, LOVE the soundtrack, or at least the musical cues that this film has. Using the vocal stylings of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bobby Darin was a great choice. Each of these songs fits the tone of their respective scenes perfectly. Fret not jazz haters, there is also a little Meredith Brook and Christina Aguilera, among a few others thrown in there to keep you happy, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Cause. It seems that Gibson’s ability to hear women’s thoughts is related to his accident with the hair dryer in the bathtub. That happens in a scene that just can’t be put into words. Needless to say he’s wearing pantyhose, nail polish and doing other feminine things as research. Anyway, as the film nears its end, he ends up losing these powers as this old Asian lady leads him down an alley and power lines rain sparks down on him. It is assumed that electricity and this woman have something to do with it but I can’t help but be curious as to what it is that really caused this phenomena.

Hunt. Helen Hunt is one of those actresses that I have a crush on in one thing I see her in and then loathe her in another. This time around she seems to be showing signs of aging, which isn’t necessarily a turnoff, but it does make me wonder if that was because they wanted her to look a bit older or if she missed a Botox appointment. Either way, it is her acting that gets my goat. She is playing a character that is meant to be a bit of a hard ass hellcat executive, but with a softer side as needed. The problem is that she comes off as wooden throughout the whole film. There is a little emotion shown after she gets fired, but even that isn’t really convincing. I just felt as if she could have given more.

Dumb and dumber. I love Gibson’s two assistant (I’m not really sure what they are), played by Delta Burke and…her name slips me at the moment. Unfortunately, we don’t get much of them. A few quick glances, a couple of one-liners, a crack about their empty heads (he can’t hear anything they’re “thinking”), and that’s it. Seems to me that characters like this should be given a bit more screentime. I’m hoping that it just ended up on the cutting room floor, rather than being written like this.

Alright guys, I cannot tell you What Women Want. As we see from this flick, not even they know what they want, no matter the age or station in life. What I can tell you is that this is a nice little romantic comedy worth seeing, if for nothing else than just a cute little story. Men will love seeing a guy go through all this stuff, while women will fall all over Gibson being shirtless for a good portion of the film. I highly recommend this!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Cal Weaver (Carell) is a middle-aged man who learns that his wife Emily (Moore) cheated on him with a coworker, David Lindhagen (Bacon), and wants a divorce. After moving into his own apartment, Cal goes to a bar night after night, talking loudly about his divorce, until he attracts the attention of a young man named Jacob Palmer (Gosling). Jacob is a womanizer who beds women each night, although a young woman named Hannah (Stone) recently had rejected his advances. Jacob takes pity on Cal, and offers to teach him how to pick up women. Using Jacob’s teachings, Cal seduces Kate (Tomei) at the bar. After this encounter, Cal manages to successfully seduce other women in the bar. He sees Emily again at his son Robbie’s (Jonah Bobo) parent-teacher conference. The meeting goes well until they discover Robbie’s teacher is Kate, who reveals to Emily that she and Cal slept together. Emily leaves in disgust and begins actively dating David.

Meanwhile, Hannah, a recent law school graduate, is expecting her boyfriend, Richard (Josh Groban) to propose marriage while they celebrate her passing the bar exam, but he does not, which hurts Hannah’s feelings. Hannah returns to the bar where she originally rejected Jacob’s advances and kisses Jacob passionately. The two return to Jacob’s home to have sex, but end up talking to each other all night and making a connection. Jacob starts a relationship with Hannah, and he becomes distant from Cal.

At the same time, Robbie makes numerous grand gestures to try to win the heart of his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica Riley (Tipton), who actually has a crush on Cal. On the advice of her classmate Madison (Julianna Guill), she takes naked photos of herself to send to Cal and tucks them away in an envelope inside her dresser drawer.

Later, when Emily calls Cal under the guise of needing help with the house’s pilot light, Cal decides to try and win her back. Meanwhile, Jacob returns Cal’s calls and asks for advice about starting a real relationship.

Jessica’s mother, Claire (Beth Littleford) discovers Jessica’s naked photos addressed to Cal in her drawer and shows them to Jessica’s father, Bernie (John Carroll Lynch). He rushes to the Weaver residence to confront him about the photos.

Cal and his kids create a makeshift mini golf set in their backyard to remind Emily of their first date. During the gathering, Jacob and Hannah show up at the house, and Hannah is revealed to be Cal and Emily’s daughter. Cal is appalled that Jacob is dating his daughter, and forbids her to see him. At that moment, Bernie shows up and attacks Cal. Jessica arrives and tells her father that Cal knew nothing of the pictures. Then David arrives on the scene to return Emily’s sweater from a previous date. Cal, Jacob, David, and Bernie then get into a scuffle which is soon broken up by the police.

Cal starts spending his time at the bar again and receives a visit from Jacob, who confesses that he is in love with Hannah. Cal refuses to approve of their relationship. Jacob harbors no ill feelings, but rather respects him and praises him for being a great father.

At Robbie’s eighth grade graduation, Robbie is the Salutatorian and gives a pessimistic speech about how he no longer believes in true love and soul-mates. Cal stops him and instead begins to recount his courtship with Emily to the audience, saying that, while he doesn’t know if things will work out, he will never give up on Emily. With renewed faith, Robbie reaffirms his love for Jessica, to the audience’s applause. After the ceremony, Cal gives Jacob and Hannah his blessing. Jessica gives Robbie an envelope containing the photos of herself to “get him through high school”. Cal and Emily have a laugh talking about the events that have transpired the past year.

REVIEW:

Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, Marisa Tomei, and Ryan Gosling headline the cast of a surprisingly refreshing romantic dramedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love. This is a film that has been on my radar, but I kept pushing it down the list. Finally, I said what the hell and moved it up near the top, minus a couple of very long waits, of course.

What is this about?

When Cal Weaver learns that his wife wants a divorce, he reluctantly faces the prospect of single life with the counsel of smooth young bachelor Jacob Palmer. Meanwhile, Cal’s adolescent son is in love with his 17-year-old babysitter.

What did I like?

Gosling. Fresh off his indy quasi-action thriller, Drive, Gosling goes more for the comedic side as a womanizer who, as Emma Stone’s character puts it “…look like he’s photoshopped [sic]”. Gosling proves he can do comedy and drama at the same time with this role, and the fact that he is more than capable of leading man material really brings to light that he knows how to choose his projects well.

True advertising. The title says it all. This film is one of the few romantic comedies that tells it like it is. Love is both crazy and stupid. The film shows us that is a fact of life at any age, whether you’re a soon-to-be divorced couple, a womanizer who has found “the one”, or a 13 yr old boy with a crush on your babysitter. With that in mind, don’t get the idea that this is some mushy love fest, because it isn’t. Love is just the building block on which the film is built upon.

Gender friendly. Face the facts, most romantic comedies tend to skewer more towards pleasing the female demographic. This one almost seems to be going more for the men, but we see a bit too much of Ryan Gosling for my taste, but I’m sure there are more than a few women out there that could care less. Conversely, had that been Julianne Moore or Marisa Tomei, I wouldn’t have complained. That being said, the mixture of moments for male and female is something nice to see.

What didn’t I like?

Marisa. I would really like to know why they cast a great actress like Marisa Tomei in this throw away role as jaded one night stand/son’s teacher. It really seemed like they were going to go somewhere with her, either in terms of relationship, or a vindictive, scorned woman who will stop at nothing to get back at Steve Carell. Neither happens, and all we get it some sort of awkward scene involving the two of them and Julianne Moore at a parent teacher conference. Afterwards, she is never seen again.

Drama. A film of this magnitude is sure to include some drama, but the last 30 minutes or so are almost nothing but climactic drama. In comparison to the rest of the film, though, it sort of contrasts, and not in a good way.

Uncomfortable. The whole thing with the kid and his babysitter was on the odd and uncomfortable side. From the moment she catches him masturbating, then the stalkerish behavior he displays, and let us not forget that she takes naked pictures of herself for his dad…that’s a whole different story.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. didn’t blow me over. I heard tons of rave reviews about this film, but is just wasn’t working for me. I guess I’m just too jaded or something. At any rate, I would say that this is a flick worth checking out. It is a decent date flick and I’m sure couples will have a ball with it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

My Cousin Vinny

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

While driving through the fictional Beechum County, Alabama, New Yorkers Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and his friend Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield) accidentally neglect to pay for a can of tuna after stopping at a convenience store. After they leave the store, the clerk is shot and killed, and Billy and Stan, who match the descriptions of the murderers given by witnesses, are then pulled over and detained in connection with the murder. Due to circumstantial evidence and a series of miscommunications based on the boys’ assumption that they have merely been detained for shoplifting, Billy ends up being charged with murder, and Stan is charged as an accessory. The pair call Billy’s mother, who tells her son that there is an attorney in the family, Billy’s cousin, Vincent LaGuardia “Vinny” Gambini (Joe Pesci), who travels to Beechum County accompanied by his fiancée, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei). Unfortunately, although he is willing to take the case, Vinny is a neophyte personal injury lawyer from Brooklyn, New York, newly admitted to the bar (after six attempts and six years) with no trial experience.

Although Vinny manages to fool the trial judge, Chamberlain Haller (Fred Gwynne), about being experienced enough to take the case, his ignorance of basic court procedures and abrasive, disrespectful attitude towards the judge gets him into trouble immediately. Much to his clients’ consternation, Vinny does not cross-examine any of the witnesses in the probable cause hearing. As their claims go unquestioned, it appears that the district attorney, Jim Trotter III (Lane Smith) has an airtight case that will inevitably lead to a conviction at the trial. After Vinny’s poor showing at the hearing, Billy and Stan decide to fire him and use the public defender, but Vinny asks for one more chance to prove himself. The trial then opens with Vinny representing his cousin and the public defender representing Stan. Despite some further missteps, including wearing a gaudy secondhand tuxedo to court and sleeping through Trotter’s opening statement, Vinny shows that he can make up for his ignorance and inexperience with an aggressive, perceptive questioning style. While the public defender stutters through a line of ill-prepared questions that appear to bolster the case against the boys, Vinny quickly and comprehensively discredits the testimony of the first witness. Billy’s faith is rewarded, and Stan develops newfound respect and confidence for Vinny, firing the public defender.

Vinny’s cross-examinations of the remaining eyewitnesses are similarly effective, but Trotter produces a surprise witness, George Wilbur, an FBI analyst who testifies that his chemical analysis of the tire marks left at the crime scene shows that they are identical to the tires on Billy’s Buick Skylark. With only a brief recess to prepare his cross-examination and unable to come up with a particularly strong line of questions, Vinny becomes frustrated and lashes out at Lisa by taunting her about the usefulness of her wide-angle photographs of the tire tracks. She storms out, leaving Vinny alone. However, he later realizes that that photo actually holds the key to the case: the flat and even tire marks going over the curb reveal that Billy’s car could not have been used for the getaway. Vinny needs Lisa, an expert in automobiles, to testify to this. He drags her into court, and during Vinny’s questioning, they patch up their differences. Vinny then recalls the FBI analyst, who concurs with Lisa that Billy’s car did not produce the tracks. Next, Vinny calls the local sheriff, who has run a records check at Vinny’s request. The sheriff testifies that two men resembling Billy and Stan were arrested driving a stolen Pontiac Tempest, a car very similar in appearance and color to Billy’s Skylark, and in possession of a gun of the same caliber used to kill the clerk. Trotter then respectfully moves to dismiss all the charges.

Throughout the film, Vinny and Judge Haller play a game of cat-and-mouse over Vinny’s qualifications. Haller first discovers that, despite Vinny’s claims that he tried “quite a few” murder cases, there exist no records of anybody named Vincent Gambini trying any case in New York State. Vinny then claims that he had his name changed during a previous career as a stage actor and continued to use the name when he opened a law practice. Vinny, believing that he should give the judge the name of someone with the kind of resume he claimed to have, supplies the name of a prominent New York attorney, Jerry Gallo. Unfortunately, Lisa later tells Vinny that Gallo died the previous week, and when Haller learns this, Vinny claims that Haller misheard “Gallo” when Vinny actually said “Callo”. Finally, Lisa gets Vinny off the hook by calling his mentor, Judge Malloy from New York, who responds to Haller’s request by claiming that Jerry Callo has a long and impressive trial history.

The film concludes with Haller apologizing for doubting Vinny and praising his skills as a litigator. Vinny and Lisa then drive off together, bickering about their future wedding plans.

REVIEW:

The first time I saw this film, I was just starting high school. Since then, I think I’ve watched the entire thing maybe once or twice, but I’ve seen bits and pieces plenty of times since then, until today when I finally sat down and watched the whole flick. I must say that I enjoyed it just as much now as I did the first time I saw it.

The biggest draw about this film is the culture clash between the fast talking New Yorkers and the slow but steady good ol’ southern folks from Alabama. You can’t get much more opposite than that!

Yeah, you can say this is a plot device that has been done to death, and you’d be right, but My Cousin Vinny really executes the differences between the cultures almost as well as Jungle Fever showed the differed between the races.

This flick would not be anywhere near as funny as it is without Joe Pesci being…well, Joe Pesci. His personality clash with the Alabama folks, coupled with his Brooklyn accent, is just hilarious.

Marisa Tomei, who at this time was fresh off the first season of A Different World, actually won an Academy Award for this role. Now that I’ve watched it again, I’m actually not the least bit surprised. She gives the performance of her career in this flick. Of course, if this was released today, it probably would go unnoticed because this isn’t an “artsy-fartsy” flick.

Fred Gwynne, best known to many as Herman Munster, passed away before this film was released. Such a shame because the chemistry between he and Pesci as they butt heads is priceless!

Believe it or not, this film is regarded as the third best law films made, following the classics as To Kill a Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men. If that isn’t enough to convince you, combined with the hilarious hijinks that occur throughout the flick, then I don’t what it is going to take, honestly, but I do implore you to check this out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Alfie

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens up by introducing Alfie (Jude Law), a charismatic, charming, cool, cheerful, fashion-aware, bed-hopping, Vespa-riding Cockney who resides in Manhattan. An impeccably stylish lad in his late twenties, Alfie funds his hedonistic lifestyle by working as a driver for the local limousine service.

Meeting, romancing, and seducing women comes as second nature to Alfie. In addition to maintaining a casual relationship with a single mother named Julie (Marisa Tomei) that he refers to as his “semi-regular-quasi-sort-of-girlfriend thing”, he also sleeps with various girls on the side, such as the married-yet-neglected-by-her-husband blond named Dorie (Jane Krakowski) whom he regularly meets for sex after work in the back of his limo. At the first inkling Dorie may desire their liaison to grow into something more, he decides to stop all contact. Alfie ultimately views women as expendable, cutting them loose as soon as he feels they’re starting to cramp his style.

Alfie’s best friend Marlon (Omar Epps) is also a limo driver in the same company. In addition to their friendship, the two are working on a plan that would eventually see them start their own business. However, for the moment, Marlon is preoccupied with trying to win back his ex-girlfriend Lonette (Nia Long) who dumped him after finding out he cheated, and is now, despite his desperate efforts, stubbornly unresponsive to his reconciliation attempts. At a loss for ideas, Marlon eventually turns to Alfie for help by having him put in a good word with Lonette. This takes place late one night following a closing shift in a bar where Lonette is waitressing. As the staff is closing up, Alfie is trying to persuade her to take Marlon back, however, the conversation soon goes in a different direction and eventually after a few drinks, they end up having passionate sex on the pool table. Alfie is terrified about facing his friend in the event he ever gets the word of what happened, but is amazed and relieved to be told by jubilant Marlon that Lonette got back with him the very next day after her “conversation” with Alfie.

Around the same time, as he arrives to Julie’s place looking for another booty call, Alfie is informed she no longer wants to see him since she found the proof of his infidelity (Dorie’s red panties). He seems to take it all in stride with a smile on his face as he disappears down her street. Alfie soon gets another unpleasant piece of news, this time from Lonette: she is pregnant with his child. Without telling Marlon, the two of them visit a clinic where she has an abortion. Soon afterwards, Marlon and Lonette unexpectedly move upstate without even saying goodbye to Alfie.

Alfie is then faced with an erectile problem that causes him plenty of embarrassment in front of his next few female conquests. Following repeated failures to achieve an erection with various women, he visits a doctor who performs an examination and reassures him there’s nothing wrong physically that would stand in his way of achieving one, thus writing his erectile problems off to “probably stress”. However, it’s not all good news as the same doctor locates a lump, indicating a possibility of testicular cancer. Alfie immediately runs a test at the clinic and spends a few anxious days awaiting the results. During one of his trips to the hospital, Alfie meets an older man named Joe (Dick Latessa) in the clinic bathroom. After a brief conversation during which he reveals he’s a widower, Joe imparts some life advice to depressed Alfie: “Find somebody to love, and live every day like it’s your last”. This is followed by him offering his card to Alfie “in case he wants someone to talk to”. Soon afterwards, Alfie finds out he doesn’t have cancer.

Alfie takes the whole erection episode followed by a mortal health scare to heart and decides that “aiming higher” in his love life will be his new resolution. To that end, he picks up a beautiful young woman named Nikki (Sienna Miller) before Christmas, and they quickly embark on a passionate but turbulent relationship against the winter holidays backdrop. Soon after moving in together, Alfie is not happy about having to endure Nikki’s wild mood swings and reckless behavior that occur as a result of her decision to go off her medication.

While beginning to distance himself emotionally from Nikki, he sets his sights on an older woman named Liz (Susan Sarandon), a sultry cosmetics mogul whom he meets in the company of an older man while driving them around. Although Alfie is clearly quite taken with her confident flair and high society ways, she, unlike many of the women in Alfie’s life, seemingly displays no intent to move their relationship past the physical stage. Unsurprisingly, his infatuation with Liz serves as the final catalyst that leads to the end of his interest in Nikki, who soon moves out of his life.

Not long afterwards, a chance meeting with his ex Julie in a coffee shop renews his feelings for her. To his dismay, she’s now happily involved with someone else, filling Alfie with feelings of regret over his years of thoughtless womanizing.

A trip upstate to visit his old friend Marlon and his now-wife Lonette reveals that she never actually went through with the abortion opting instead to give birth to Alfie’s child. Alfie also learns that Marlon accepted the baby and cares for it now as though it’s his biological child, all of which leaves Alfie feeling horrible.

Downcast and gloomy, Alfie digs up the number given to him by a man named Joe from the clinic bathroom and calls him up. Walking along the beach together, Joe imparts some words of encouragment to Alfie. He then turns to Liz for reassurance and comfort, but is crushed to discover that she has a new man in her life. Completely rattled, Alfie insists to know what her new boyfriend has that he doesn’t, to which she, after some initial hesitation, simply states: “he’s younger than you”.

Shocked and dismayed by one blow after another, Alfie happens to run into Dorie, his one-time regular booty call. She walks by the docks late one night, but at this point he is more interested in a shoulder to lean on than sex. She, however, informs him she’s moved on, and, though cordial and polite, generally lets him know she wants no part of him anymore. The film ends with Alfie’s monologue in which he begins to question his shallow self-indulgent lifestyle.

REVIEW:

Most romantic comedies tend to be geared towards those of the female persuasion, but this one was more for the men.

In 2004, Jude Law seemed to be on top of the world. Seems like every film that was released that year had him in the case. In this film, he proves why he was in such high demand.

The women of this picture hold their own and are no slouch in both the acting or looks department.

Omar Epps has a small, but important supporting role that he does a really good job with,

This film starts out with so much potential and fun, but as it progresses it turns into your typical romantic comedy, complete with depressing moment. The problem is, with that depressing moment, it never comes back up. The film just ends on such a melancholy note.

I wish I could say for you to run out and rent this film so that you can enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don’t think you would. not because its a bad film or because its a remake, but because it is such a downer. Still, there are moments of enjoyability in the first half of the film that can keep your interest.

3 out of 5 stars