REview of “Last Vegas”

Last Vegas
If you’re male and over about 50 stop whatever you’re doing and go see this movie. At many, many points really funny, at several points a little sad, Last Vegas was richly entertaining throughout.  The trailer just didn’t do it justice, and when I dissed this one in my PREview I hadn’t noticed that it was written by the Dan Fogelman, the same guy who did “Crazy, Stupid Love”.

There’s an aging theme here. There’s a friendship theme here. There’s a love story, and there’s a clarifying surprise.

I’ve always liked Robert Di Nero a lot in dramas and not so much in comedies, but this flick let him bring both parts of himself.  Kevin Kline’s character starts out grumpy and ends up happy, and he nailed it.  Ditto for Morgan Freeman’s character, which Freeman played with real vigor and joy.  Michael Douglas kind of revives Gordon Gekko here but brings the funny.  Mary Steenburgen doesn’t get top billing, but she should. She was radiant and delivered some of the quickest and best dialogue.

At the risk of being repetitive, I’m not sure women will like this one as much, and I’m not sure men (or women) under about 50 will quite get it either.
If you’re a man of a certain age, though, you’ll love it. Please go now and see it.
I know.  I know. You have to pee first.
Me, too…
IMDb with trailer

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PREviews for November 2013

Some promising flicks this month.

Last Vegas
Robert Di Nero, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Douglas in a movie about a bunch of old guys who go to Vegas.  All-star cast notwithstanding, this looks like a stinker. It’s the one the fellas want to see Friday night, though, so I’ll hold my nose and see it with very low expectations.
IMDb with trailer

Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey’s quest to prove he’s more than just a pretty face continues, and this looks really good. Definitely on my list.
IMDB with trailer

The Counselor (2013)
A lawyer played by Michael Fassbender gets wrapped up with drug dealers. Directed by Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Alien, The Good Wife). Brad Pitt’s in it, and he still in desperate need of a shave and a haircut.  Also starring Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz.
Wait, Penelope Cruz?
Why didn’t I just open with Penelope Cruz?
What else did I really need to say?
IMDb with trailer

The Book Thief
I found the trailer a little confusing. Since there’s apparently no limit to my interest in movies about WWII, I’ll probably give it a try.
IMDb with trailer

The Armstrong Lie
Quote from the trailer:  “This is not a story about doping; this is a story about power.”  Documentary about Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. Looks to me like it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.  (Someone really needs to invent a sarcasm font.)
IMDB with trailer

The Hunger Games
The first one was an real original and it looks like the sequel could be just as good. Gotta check this one out.
IMDb with trailer

Delivery Man
DreamWorks did this movie, and it stars Vince Vaughn.
Am I the only one who looks at the trailer and thinks this is a chance to be disappointed by what’s on the screen even as I’m also being disappointed by the fact that you can’t get a Coke that tastes like a Coke anymore ever since they put those stupid machines with a zillion flavors in at the theatres?
Am I the only one who misses actual Coke in an actual bottle that tastes like actual Coke?
IMDb with trailer

Shot in black and white by the same director as “Sideways” and “The Descendants”. Color me intrigued.  Gonna give this one a try.
IMDb with trailer

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Freedom; this is an idea for which I am prepared to die”.  The life story of anti-apartheid leader and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela.  Might be a sleeper. Might be a little over-acted.  Hard to tell from the trailer.
IMDb with trailer

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REview of “12 Years a Slave”

12 Years a Slave
This movie made me physically uncomfortable on more than one occasion.  Still, I hope you’ll make a point to see it. The director, Steve McQueen, overworked the dramatic pauses a little too hard for my tastes - lingering a bit too long on a close-up of violin strings/the paddle wheel of a riverboat/a worm on a cotton bole.  Still, I hope you’ll make a point to see this movie.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is riveting, and your heart breaks for what his character’s life has been reduced to.  Michael Fassbender’s character is cruel and unpredictable, and Fassbender plays him chillingly well.  Basing the script on the true story of a free black man from New York who is tricked into captivity and sold into slavery in the south provides a truly original premise for a movie about the horrors of plantation life.  It’s worth noting that young Paul Dano has gone from playing the son in Little Miss Sunshine, to the hyper-creepy Alex Jones in the current hit Prisoners, to a truly sick slaver named Tibeats in this movie. This young man has game.

I can’t say you’ll enjoy this movie. I can’t really even say you’ll be entertained by it, not exactly. I can say it will move you and that you will remember it. It seems somehow important to know the story of the man on whose life the movie is based.  This should be one to watch for when award season comes around, but it appears to mostly be an art-house release.  Even so, if you miss it in the theater, please catch it at some point on the small screen.
IMDb with trailer

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REview of “Captain Phillips”

Captain Phillips
OK, I have 3 things to say about this movie.  Go see it. Go see it. Go see it.
Seven guys are on the way to my house for poker tonight, so this will be the shortest review of the year for the best movie I’ve seen all year.
You read the papers, so you know the story: Somali pirates take an American ship captain hostage.
You also know how it ends - bullet to the head for the Somali pirates.
And yet, you’ll be on the edge of your seat all the way through.
Go see this one on the big screen!
IMDb with trailers

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REview of “Gravity”


I liked this movie a lot.  I suggest you head to the theater to see it, but only if you see it in 3D.  Seriously, if you’re one of those folks who doesn’t like watching movies in 3D, just skip this one.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know how much of a cop out I think it is for producers to skip the part about getting a good script and throw together a collection of special effects, declaring it a movie.  In the case of Gravity, though, the story telling was actually enhanced by 3D.  The distances seemed more profound, the sense of desperation more acute.  I liked it. 
I suppose it’s possible that of the 7 billion people on earth there are maybe 8 or 9 tops who don’t like either Sandra Bullock or George Clooney.  If you’re on of those folks, definitely skip this one. This flick has a cast of 1.5 characters, and Clooney is the half. I mean to take nothing away from Clooney’s acting, it’s just that this was almost all Bullock all the time. She pulled it off, and it helped that the movie was only 91 minutes long. Just the right amount of time to tell the story.
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