Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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This is a excellent film that creates tension and has you on edge from beginning to end. The film starts in a hospital that is being swamped by very strange cases of people being bitten. Nurse Ana (The Dynamic) Sarah Polley is exhausted at the end of her shift and just wants to get home. There is a brief scene with her loving husband, and she is off to sleep. She awakes to the the young girl next door in her bedroom, and looking very peculiar. When the child attacks her husband, the situation goes from bad to worse case scenario. This is confirmed when the media reports the dead, now living, are on a rampage. She flees her household, and finds the streets, and society in chaos. She runs into Kenneth (Ving Rhames) a Cop who is bloodied and has already fought his way out of some tight pinches. They along with some other survivors, decided to try and seek refuge in a closed mall. There they meet other survivors as they try and turn the Macy's like atmosphere into the Alamo, trying to ward off the always hungry zombies. The characters are pretty stock, the African American, the Security Officer, the slut. The two that stand out are the kind, smart, pragmatic Michael (Well Played by Jake Weber), and the ultra sleazy, rich playa type play by Modern Family's Ty Burrell. He is so good at being snake like, that you are happy when let's just say he "transforms." I realize that this is a remake, but since I never saw the original, I don't feel necessary to comment on the difference. If you can get the DVD, even better, since the bonus includes fantastic fake news broadcasts. I am confident you will enjoy this.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is an amicable movie starring Steve Carell in the title role, and Steve Buscemi as his lifelong friend and Magic Partner. This film is marketed as a comedy, and has mild laughs, especially when Jim Carrey is on screen as their nemesis, the Criss Angel like Steve Gray. It takes place in Vegas where the duo performs at the luxurious Bally's Hotel (Bally's hasn't been a top flight hotel for years). The romantic interest to Carell's Wonderstone is Olivia Wilde, whose beauty and talent is entirely wasted in this film. There are times when it seems like the writer couldn't decide if this was a straight comedy or a Rom Com.(Romantic Comedy). Small roles of the Late, Great James Gandolifini (As the Casino Owner) and the still fantastic Alan Arkin, as Wonderstone's Mentor and inspiration, over shadow the middling performance by Carell. Carell can play a jerk, in his sleep, which seems like what he is doing in this film.
This is a excellent film with outstanding performances by child actors, especially Asa Butterfield in the lead. It takes place in the future, 50 years after Earth was devastated by an attempted Alien Invasion. Harrison Ford plays a Senior Military officer in charge of recruiting children to fight the invaders. Ender Wiggan is one of the best and brightest, and Colonel Graff (Ford) sees that the child is a great tactician that could lead the Earth troops to victory (By engaging in video game like warfare). Ender and other prospective candidates are sent to Battle School, to weed out the weak candidates and let the true leaders rise to the top. Hailee Steinfeld is terrific as one of Enders classmates and allies in the very competitive school. Enders with the guidance and mentoring of Col. Graf develops into the leader that is entrusted to save the human race. Ben Kingsley is outstanding in a smaller role as the heroic role model that Ender hopes to emulate. The special effects are well done, but the story is what drives this film. The performance by Butterfield is mature and nuanced. He is a true talent. I would also say that this is a fine film to watch with older children. This film is worth your valuable time.
I found Bad Grandpa to be a hilarious "Borat" style send up of practical jokes. I was laughing out loud several times at this story of 86 Year Old Irving (The Bad Grandpa played by Johnny Knoxville) as he takes his 8 year old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across the country to deliver him to his pot smoking father. The story is a little flimsy, but to both actors credit, there are able to create a chemistry between them. There are people who will debate about weather some of the pranks were staged. It is possible, but I look at the bottom line in asking myself "Did a Laugh?" The answer is often and loud. I feel credit must go to both actors for their courage in conducting such stunts. Young Mr. Nicoll, in particular, does a tremendous job staying in character. I would rather see this movie then 10 versions of the comedy "Bridesmaids." This movie has a simple goal: To make you laugh, and it succeeds mightily.
This is an excellent film that when released in 1998, might have seemed far fetched. The idea of terrorists unleashing an attack(s) that would immobilize New York City seems to be a stretch. Now years later, following that horrible day on 9/11,this movie has great meaning and generates critical thought. Denzel Washington is as usual, exceptional, as the FBI Official in charge of finding cells of terrorists let loose in the Big Apple. Washington is one of the few actors who, in my mind, have never "mailed in" a performance. His character, Anthony Hubbard, is a fair, straight laced cop, who is not willing to break the rules to catch the bad guys. Hubbard realizes that it is those rules that make this country worth protecting. His fellow agent, Frank Haddad (Played Remarkably by Tony Shaloub in an Oscar nomination worthy performance) is the Muslim Agent in charge of finding ruthless,fanatical Muslim terrorists, They are helped, and sometimes foiled in their quest by CIA operative Elise Kraft, played by Annette Bening. Bening does an excellent job of conveying the murky waters that CIA operatives tread in. It is one of the best aspects of this movie that makes you wonder weather CIA operations are often literal "Deals with the Devil." The city after several lethal attacks is put under Martial Law, and under the command of a General, played by Bruce Willis. The General has the belief that the mission must be accomplished, no matter what the legal or moral costs might be. I encourage you to watch this film, and digest some of the questions it poses. Specifically is a country worth saving if the cost is the loss of true freedom and justice?