REview of “Flight”

Flight
If “Man on Fire” was Denzel playing a character who was determined to keep his promise to punish the people who kidnapped the little girl in his care, “Flight” is Denzel playing a character determined to break every promise he’s ever made to the people in his care – his passengers, his wife, his son – everybody.

This is an action movie on the surface and delivers the requisite first-class special effects, but this is really a movie about an addict. Denzel’s character (Whip Whitaker) destroys everything in his path, and he does it as addicts often do, with the full support of his enablers and his enfeeblers. His dealer is a guy named Harling Mays (played by John Goodman), and he’s a real scene stealer at a couple of points. (I don’t think I’ve ever personally met a guy with a bottle opener mounted to his dash.) There was another interesting character. I thought the guy in the stairwell at the hospital was pretty haunting.

Truth is, about half way through this movie I was ready to give up flying ever again. I was thinking that if there’s even a 1% chance that someone like Whip Whitaker might be in the cockpit, Greyhound is lookin’ pretty good. Man, this guy was trouble. It would be overstating to say it all works out by the end of the flick, but I thought they did a good job of wrapping it up in a believable and pretty dramatic way. If you’re a Denzel fan, you shoudl definitely go see this one. If not, I’d wait for the video.
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PREviews for November 2012

PREviews for November 2012
Flight
Robert Zemeckis directs this one, the same guy who won the Oscar for directing “Forest Gump”. Then of course, there’s Denzel, the leading man who needs only one name, who won Oscars for Training Day and “Glory”. The story here is that Denzel’s character at first looks like the heroic pilot who saved the day and then it starts to look as if he has “issues”. Pedigree notwithstanding, this one looks marginal to me, but I may give it a try anyway.
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Hitchcock
Anthony Hopkins is a legend and an Academy Award winner, and yet I’ve seen him choose to be in some movies that I just didn’t get; “The World’s Fastest Indian” comes to mind. Let’s face it, though, Hannibal Lecter was an unforgettable character, and as far as I’m concerned Hopkins did the definitive “Nixon”. In this flick Hopkins plays Hitchcock, and Helen Mirren (also an Academy Award winner) plays his wife. Scarlott Hohansson, is also in this one. I’m not a horror movie fan, or a fan of people who write horror movies, and the trailer doesn’t make this movie seem that compelling to me. With this cast, though, I’m probably gonna give it a try.
Trailer

Lincoln
Not to be confused with “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer” (No, I’m not kidding, that was actually a movie!) Confession: Abraham Lincoln was one of my early childhood heroes dating from when I read my first book about him in grade school. Ever since, I’ve had a soft spot for people who have the courage to hold up a mirror to things about the current state of affairs that need to be changed and then take their lumps while the rest of us catch up their undeniable truth and the darkness in our own hearts. Produced by Steven Spielberg. Starring Daniel-Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones. This one looks like a winner.
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Skyfall – 007
OK, stipulate for the record that Daniel Craig was terrific in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, that Judi Dench was terrific in, well, everything she’s ever done, and that Javier Bardem is terrific in any bad-guy role he plays. Further stipulate that the 007 franchise has lasted forever for good reasons – suave and elusive hero who always gets the girl, cool gadgetry, exotic storylines, etc. But…am I the only one who thinks this whole thing has sort of run its course? Am I the only one who thinks they’ve hung on just a little too long here? Am I the only one who feels this way and who will probably go see this movie anyway?
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Review of “Taken 2″

I’d say this one’s only about 75% as good as the original, but still very much worth seeing.

Liam Neeson’s as good as he’s ever been, and unlike some other aging action stars (Tom Cruise are you reading this?), he has the decency to keep his shirt on. In the original Taken, the daughter of Bryan Mills (Neesom’s character) is swept up by some truly evil types who traffic in young women, giving rise to one of the great movie lines of all times when dear old dad first talks to the hostage takers: “I have a very specific set of skills”. He continues to use those skills in Taken 2.

The twist in the sequel is that this time the bad guys get everyone – mom, dad, and the daughter (yep, she’s been abducted twice now, and the kid ain’t even out of college yet). Dad goes into full-on badass mode to get her back, of course, and the scene where he uses sound and sight in some very creative ways to help his daughter find him is very clever.

The ending made it clear that someone on the team for this movie has the idea that it may make sense to come out with a 3rd version, but they are running out of relatives to serve as hostages.
I kind of like: “Taken 3 – this time they’re comin’ for the cousins!”

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Review of “Hope Springs”

OK, 3 suggested criteria for who should see this movie: (1) Married people, (2)… who have been together for more than, say, 15 years, (3)…who can tolerate raw honesty. Oops, I think I just realized this movie might be one of those flicks that only a film critic could love. Criteria 1 & 2 eliminate most of the population, and that 3rd one really shortens the list.

I don’t remember the last time I saw a movie with more magnificent or more nuanced acting. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep just knocked it out of the park. If I’ve ever seen silence used in a movie to greater effect, I’ll be damned if I know what movie I was watching when it happened. There were actually scenes where the director didn’t even use music to intensify the emotion; I think he realized that music might have diminished the magic that Jones and Streep were creating while masterfully practicing their craft. Oh, and did I mention that the Steve Carrell character (a shrink) reminded me of Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting (a shrink)? It turns out that Carrell, like Williams, has not only comedic talent but dramatic mojo, as well.

Every morning Kay, played by Streep, ritualistically fries up the bacon on the left side of the pan and the eggs on the right. Arnold, played by Jones, comes down for breakfast and puts his briefcase on the same chair, just like he’s always done. But something is, as they say, “just not right”. One of our favorite singer/songwriters is the magnificent Mary Chapin Carpenter, and her early 90′s lyrics came to my mind during this movie: “Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design. Spit and polish till it shines… Everything is so benign, safest place you’ll ever find…at least until you change your mind”.

This movie offers laughs as well as tears, and it just may make you want to avoid falling into the rut that comes so naturally to couples who have been together for a while. Ever watched the Academy Awards and wondered what all the fuss was about for some movie you didn’t even see? Don’t let Hope Springs be that movie.

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Preview of “Hope Springs”

In this one Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep are a long-married couple who seek counseling from a character played by Steve Carrell.

They had me at Tommy Lee Jones, and adding Meryl Streep just sealed the deal. The fact that Steve Carrell is also in the movie actually makes me feel a little guilty that I’m only paying $11.

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