Lady in The Van – A Movie Review

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Feb 202016
 

The Lady In The Van Movie PosterAn eccentric (and decidedly grubby) aged lady parks her decrepit old van (which appears to contain her entire world goods) outside writer Alan Bennett’s house in Camden. When the Council threatens to have it towed away, Bennett’s diffidence leads to it being parked in his drive, to the consternation of his neighbors, where it – and she – stay for 15 years. As time passes, an odd relationship develops between them, and he begins to discover elements of her past.

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Alan Bennett
Stars: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Clare Hammond, George Fenton
Runtime: 104 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama; Released: 15 Jan 2016

Based on a 1970s biographical drama of the same name by noted British playwright Alan Bennett, The Lady in the Van is a “mostly true story” as mentioned at the beginning of the film. That’s because Bennett had to put up with an old homeless woman for 15 years by allowing her to live in her van in his driveway. Then in 1999, Bennett cast Maggie Smith as the titular hobo in his own play. Ironically, Smith plays the same character on screen little over 15 years later. Continue reading »

Mar 172015
 

Lewis_BlackThis past weekend was my birthday. I love Lewis Black, and have never seen him in person, so I was excited to find that he was performing his current show, “The Rant is Due, Part Deux,” at the Straz Center here in Tampa Saturday evening, March 14.

So, Lay took me to a nice dinner at a Brazilian Steakhouse, and then we went to see the show.

Now let me start by saying that I love Lewis Black and his comedy. I’ve watched a couple of his shows that are available on the streaming services, and often found myself laughing out loud. I have laughed out loud several times when he’s been on the Daily Show.

I was really disappointed when this show just seemed to go nowhere. His opening act, John Bowman, was better, but went on a tad too long. The show started late, and there was announced 15 minute intermission, which, as is always the case, was actually a little over 20 minutes, and then Lewis finally came out. Once in a while he got onto one of his rants, and seemed to remember what works for him, but mostly, it just wasn’t that funny. I mean, come on, this is Floriduh. I think he had one wise-crack about Rick Scott, and all the other material was just left on the table. Bowman did a better job of segueing into some good local and Florida material.

They do a segment at the end where you can send him questions and comments to which he will respond. He got to about two of those, after spending what seemed like 5 minutes figuring out a reflection from the iPad he had, which didn’t matter anyways.

I’ve seen him have great material, but this was just a huge let down. On top of that, the guy next to Lay kept his phone out for most of the second half of the show checking Facebook and showing it to his boyfriend. I was about to say something like, “Maybe we can ask the to hold up the show while you finish up with that important Facebook conversation.” There were a few laughs, but it was not worth the $100 for the two of us.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel-A Movie Review

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Jan 192015
 

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Movie PosterSeven elderly Britons, for a variety of reasons, respond to an online ad and travel to Jaipur, India, where they find run-down hotel with a young, exuberant, and optimistic host. Evelyn, newly widowed, wants low-cost experience, Graham seeks a long-ago love, Douglas and Jean have lost their pension in a family investment, Muriel needs cheap hip surgery, Madge seeks a rich husband, and Norman is chasing women. India affects each in different ways, enchanting Douglas and Evelyn while driving Jean deeper into bitterness. Their host, young Sonny, has dreams but little cash or skill; he also has a girlfriend whom his mother dismisses. Stories cross and discoveries await each one.

Runtime: 124 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Comedy, Drama; Released: 25 May 2012
Director: John Madden
Writer: Ol Parker (screenplay), Deborah Moggach (novel)
Stars: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Patrick Pearson, Hugh Dickson, James Rawlings, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Liza Tarbuck, Paul Bhattacharjee, Lucy Robinson, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie

Lay had to work Saturday, so after chores were done, I watched this. I found it to be a grand and fun movie, with adorable characters who made me want to see more. Continue reading »

Birdman – A Movie Review

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Jan 102015
 

BirdmanRiggan Thomas, once known quite well to movie theater goers as an iconic super hero called “The Birdman” had recently turned down a fourth installment of the franchise. Now washed up, he attempts to reinvent himself as a director by staging a new adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. The events leading up to the Saturday night premiere prove to be one disaster after another as the original lead actor is injured while on set and Riggan scrambles to find a replacement, but the replacement proves to be exactly who he needs – a method actor who takes the job way too seriously. But Riggan has a hard time juggling between the set, his replacement actor, his equally washed up daughter, and a host of other disasters that prevent a proper staging of the play. Meanwhile, a New York Times critic who Riggan has to woo threatens to shut down production of the play before it even starts with a scathing review of the opening night performance. Does Riggan have a hit on his hands or will he even make it past opening night?

Runtime: 119 min; Rated: R; Genre: Comedy, Drama; Released: 14 Nov 2014

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay), Nicolás Giacobone (screenplay), Alexander Dinelaris (screenplay), Armando Bo (screenplay)
Stars: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Kenny Chin, Jamahl Garrison-Lowe Continue reading »

Birdman – A Movie Review

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Nov 212014
 

birdman_posterRiggan Thomas, once known quite well to movie theater goers as an iconic super hero called “The Birdman” had recently turned down a third installment of the franchise. Now washed up, he attempts to reinvent himself as a director by staging a new retelling of a classic Broadway dramatic play called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. The events leading up to the Saturday night premiere prove to be one disaster after another as the original lead actor is injured while on set and Riggan scrambles to find a replacement, but the replacement proves to be exactly who he needs – a method actor who takes the job way too seriously. But Riggan has a hard time juggling between the set, his replacement actor, his equally washed up daughter, and a host of other disasters that prevent a proper staging of the play. Meanwhile, a New York Times critic who Riggan has to woo threatens to shut down production of the play before it even starts with a scathing review of the dress rehearsal. Does Riggan have a hit on his hands or will he even make it to opening night?

Runtime: 119 min; Rated: R; Genre: Comedy, Drama; Released: 02 Jan 2015

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay), Nicolás Giacobone (screenplay), Alexander Dinelaris (screenplay), Armando Bo (screenplay)
Stars: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Kenny Chin, Jamahl Garrison-Lowe, Edward Norton

We saw this last Friday at the AMC Theater in Brandon. Attendance was kind of sparse. l found the movie enjoyable, but not on my top 10 list for the year.  Continue reading »

Movie Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Oct 142014
 

Grand Budapest HotelGRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

Rating: 8.2/10 (179,874 votes)
Director: Wes Anderson
Writer: Stefan Zweig (inspired by the writings of), Wes Anderson (screenplay), Wes Anderson (story), Hugo Guinness (story)
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody
Runtime: 100 min
Rated: R
Genre: Comedy
Released: 28 Mar 2014

I watched this a couple of Saturday’s ago by myself when Lay had to work. I’d worked especially had during the week day evenings to get chores done, and have a real day off. While I did wind up having to trim a rather large and tall hedge we have on one side of the house. But this was a nice way to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon.

This film is funny, absurd (what else would you expect from Wes Craven), poignant, and exciting all at the same time.  Continue reading »

American Hustle-A Movie Review

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May 312014
 
American Hustle (2013)
American Hustle poster Rating: 7.3/10 (373,268 votes)
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Stars: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner
Runtime: 138 min
Rated: R
Genre: Crime, Drama
Released: 20 Dec 2013
Plot: A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.

We both really wanted to like this movie, but we both hated it. I remember some of the news coverage of the events, and was really disappointed. It just never seem to grab my attention.

First of all David O. Russell is one of my favorite directors. I’ve enjoyed his films and absolutely loved “The Fighter” and “Flirting with Disaster”. This film also boasts an incredibly talented cast including Christian Vale, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams. The problem is with the story, the film’s pacing and length. Of course if I was enjoying the film the length would not be an issue. This movie is a classic case in amateurish, dialogue-heavy scenes. Constant, ceaseless dialogue really bogged down the film for me. This film didn’t have a single bone of subtlety in its entire body. Continue reading »

Nebraska: A Movie Review

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Jan 052014
 

Nebraska Movie PosterNEBRASKA is the story of a father and son road trip, from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska that gets waylaid at a small town in central Nebraska, where the father grew up and has scores to settle. Told with deadpan humor and a unique visual style, it’s ultimately the story of a son trying to get through to a father he doesn’t understand, and a father trying to finish his life.

In Theaters: November 15, 2013; MPAA Rating: R (for some language); Genres: Drama, Comedy; Distributors: Paramount Pictures

Director: Alexander Payne

Writer: Bob Nelson

Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach, June Squibb, Devin Ratray, Mary Louise Wilson, Rance Howard, Tim Driscoll

“Nebraska” stars Bruce Dern playing Woody Grant, a 77-year-old who lives in Billings, Montana. Woody’s received at Publisher’s Clearinghouse type sweepstakes mailing, and believes he’s won a million dollars. Not trusting the Post Office with a million dollars, Woody sets off to Billings. Unable to drive, we see Dern on foot, hoofing his way on the outskirts of Billings and on his way to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his prize. It’s clear that the years have not been kind to Dern’s character Woody. An alcoholic with some obvious signs of dementia, Dern plays the character perfectly. Continue reading »

Oct 062013
 

Don Jon Movie PosterA New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love. Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.

In Theaters: September 27, 2013; MPAA Rating: R (for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use.) Genres: Comedy

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Writer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke, Paul Ben-Victor, Italia Ricci, Lindsey Broad, Amanda Perez

Me and Lay watched this movie in Brandon Friday night. We both enjoyed it, and got a lot of laughs. I’m OK with some romantic comedies, but generally they can be formulaic and unrealistic. I thought Don Jon went against that grain, and provided a more challenging story line. He takes a topic not usually handled in a serious way, and presents it realistically, but with great humor. Indeed, the film is very non-judgmental in its handling the topic of how we all get self-absorbed, and misguided by expecting a Hollywood experience in life. Continue reading »

The Hangover Part III-A Movie Review

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Jun 012013
 

Click to view the trailerIn the aftermath of the death of Alan’s father, the wolfpack decide to take Alan to get treated for his mental issues. But things start to go wrong on the way to the hospital as the wolfpack is assaulted and Doug is kidnapped. Now they must find Mr. Chow again to surrender him to the gangster who kidnapped Doug in order to save him.

In Theaters: May 23, 2013; MPAA Rating: R (for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity); Genres: Comedy, Sequel; Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes; Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Todd Phillips

Writers: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Mike Epps, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, John Goodman

Lay was off Tuesday this week, so we went to see Hangover Part III. It was a worthy successor to the franchise. It was a great follow-on to the previous movies, but would also stand on its own.

The original Hangover film is a classic and introduced the world to the genius that is Zach Galifianakis. It was fresh, original, shocking and hilarious fun. The Hangover II was not only one of the weakest sequels ever made but also one of the saddest excuses for a comedy. It lacked any originality and came off more as a bad remake than a sequel. For instance, instead of Las Vegas it was Bangkok. Instead of a baby, they had a monkey. Instead of a rooftop, it was an out-of-order elevator. The only bits that weren’t the same as the original were more low-brow shocks. Continue reading »

Moonrise Kingdom-A Movie Review

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Dec 052012
 

Boy, am I way behind on reviewing movies. I’ll try to get caught up. We saw this movie back in June.

Two twelve-year-olds fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore — and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle.

MPAA Rating : PG-13 (for sexual content and smoking); Genres: Drama; Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Director:Wes Anderson

Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Stars: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jared Gilman

Occasionally a movie comes along that breaks that pattern and changes our perspectives, The Artist being a fine example. Moonrise Kingdom not only takes chances, it does it with zeal. Daring is at the heart of this film. Start with the acting. Edward Norton is exceptional as the over-zealous Khaki Scout leader. Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand take infidelity to a new and hilarious level. And Tilda Swinton, what can you say about a character who refers to herself as Social Services? Every character makes us laugh, cringe, and simply, truly feel their personality. Now move to the screenplay, the use of maps, a narrator, impending hurricanes, social upheaval on a small island, and the anxious calm of young misfits running away from it all. Continue reading »

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