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Showing posts from March 30, 2014

Review: Gangster Squad

Set in LA in 1949 (and loosely based on a true story), gruff police chief Nick Nolte places grim-faced sergeant Josh Brolin in charge of hiring a small crew of cops to help bring down boxer-turned-gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), whose payroll seems to include cops, judges, you name it, everyone except Nolte, Brolin, and his soon-to-be-formed squad. Helped by his pregnant wife, Brolin brings together smart-alec ladies’ man Ryan Gosling, veteran sharpshooter Robert Patrick (who comes as a package deal with his Mexican sidekick/ace driver Michael Pena), techie Giovanni Ribisi, and African-American cop Anthony Mackie. Emma Stone turns up as a woman attached to Cohen who would much rather attach herself to Gosling.

This 2013 gangster pic with graphic novel aesthetics from director Ruben Fleischer and writer Will Beall isn’t “The Untouchables” that it aspires to be. I also found Fleischer’s hyperreal sensibilities to be hit-and-miss, and it sure as hell ain’t another “Zombieland”. But ta…

Review: The Last Stand

Drug lord Eduardo Noriega and his souped-up corvette are headed to the Mexican border, after escaping police custody. Standing in his way? Small border town sheriff Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a small army of helpers (including nervous deputies Luis Guzman and Jaimie Alexander, and explosives nut Johnny Knoxville). Peter Stormare plays Noriega’s scummy criminal associate who is already waiting for him in sleepy ‘ol Sommerton, and his foreign presence hasn’t gone unnoticed by Schwarzenegger (The townsfolk haven’t noticed, however that their sheriff is quite clearly fucking Austrian, but nevermind). Meanwhile, assistance from Las Vegas FBI agent Forest Whitaker (whose custody Noriega escaped in the first place) seems a long, long way away. Harry Dean Stanton plays a stubborn, shotgun-sporting local who tries to stand up to Stormare. Rodrigo Santoro plays Dean Martin in “Rio Bravo”.

I wanted this 2013 film from director Jee-woon Kim to be a fun return to action movie stardom for Arnold Sch…

Review: Amour

A loving elderly couple (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) are faced with having to deal with the deteriorating health of the latter (A stroke and a descent into dementia). Trintignant wants to keep her home to go through this with whatever dignity is possible. Their daughter Isabelle Huppert disagrees but lives abroad and thus comes in and out infrequently without putting up too much of a fight.

This 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner is an odd choice for writer/director Michael Haneke (the notorious “Funny Games” and “The Piano Teacher”) to have made. It’s well-done up to a certain point, but I believe Haneke goes a step too far in going for realism here. I’ve always believed that even realistic films should be just a tad shy of total realism (and I’m talking about fictional films here, docos are a totally different subject and out of the equation), and Haneke slightly crosses over the line on this one. At what point does showing someone going through the undigni…

Review: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Set in London, Anthony Hopkins and Naomi Watts play father and daughter, both unhappy in love. Hopkins leaves wife Gemma Jones for a younger hooker named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), whilst Watts’ marriage to frustrated writer Josh Brolin seems to be on the outs, as she has her eye on her charismatic boss (Antonio Banderas), and he has been spying a pretty neighbour (Freida Pinto), whilst fretting about the impending response to his latest work. Pauline Collins has an idiotic role as a shonky psychic medium who gives Jones the title prediction (groan).

Continuing my masochistic tour of Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”, “Deconstructing Harry”, “Match Point”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”) films, with this not terribly well publicised 2010 film from the celebrated writer-director. It’s a shockingly pointless, uninteresting film in which Woody doesn’t appear to be saying anything interesting, insightful, profound, or funny. Not a very good idea to use the ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing’ quote from M…