The Bag Man-A Movie Review

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Jun 052014
 
The Bag Man (2014)
The Bag Man poster Rating: 5.3/10 (13,761 votes)
Director: David Grovic
Writer: David Grovic, Paul Conway, James Russo (original screenplay "Motel")
Stars: John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa, Robert De Niro, Crispin Glover
Runtime: 108 min
Rated: R
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Released: 20 Mar 2014
Plot: A criminal bides his time at a seedy motel, waiting for his boss after killing several men and making away with a mystery bag.

We love us some Redbox. Watched this on May 25, 2014.

This was kind of a throwaway choice. We didn’t see anything we really wanted to watch, but I like John Cusack, so we went for this.

You have to suspect something up when you see acclaimed actors in an unheard of film that is also made by an unknown director. The Bag Man is such a film that uses a lot of gist from a lot of other similar movies.

These actors are Robert De Niro and John Cusack. De Niro will always be remembered for his mob playing roles, and Cusack is a well-known character-defined actor who came into the limelight after playing a skilled assassin in Grosse Pointe Blank. What De Niro and Cusack do in this movie is basically play those characters again, but in a dark, twisted and bizarre setting that is hard to figure out. Continue reading »

Wolf of Wall Street-A Movie Review

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Feb 122014
 

wolfofwallstreetThis is the true story of the outlandish rise and non-stop pleasure-hunting descent of Jordan Belfort, the New York stockbroker who, along with his merry band of brokers, makes a gargantuan fortune by defrauding investors out of millions. Belfort transforms from a righteous young Wall Street newcomer to a thoroughly corrupted stock-pumper and IPO cowboy. Having quickly amassed an absurd fortune, Jordan pumps it back into an endless array of aphrodisiacs: women, Quaaludes, coke, cars, his supermodel wife and a legendary life of aspiration and acquisition without limits. But even as Belfort’s company, Stratton Oakmont, soars sky-high into extremes of hedonistic gratification, the SEC and the FBI are zeroing in on his empire of excess.

In Theaters: December 25, 2013; MPAA Rating: R (for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence); Genres: Drama, Crime, Biopic, Adaptation; Run Time: 2 hours and 59 minutes

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writing Credits: Terence Winter (screenplay), Jordan Belfort (book)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, Cristin Milioti, P.J. Byrne, Ethan Suplee, Kenneth Choi, Jake Hoffman, Christine Ebersole, Shea Whigham, Barry Rothbart, Danny Abeckaser

Me and Lay watched this movie at the AMC Regency 20 in Brandon. The theater was less than half full, yet amazingly a couple had to sit in our row, and talk through the entire movie, and the woman had to fire up her cell phone screen from time to time. (And these were adults.) Continue reading »

Runner Runner – A Movie Review

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Oct 062013
 

Runner Runner Movie PosterPrinceton grad student Richie, believing he’s been swindled, travels to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block. Richie is seduced by Block’s promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him.

In Theaters: October 4, 2013; MPAA Rating: R (for language and some sexual content.); Genres: Thriller, Drama

Director: Brad Furman

Writers: Brian Koppelman, David Levien

Cast:  Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Michael Esper, Oliver Cooper, Christian George, Yul Vazquez, John Heard

We went to see this Saturday night at Britton Plaza. It was OK, but I’m glad we didn’t pay AMC prices.

Richie Furst (played by Timberlake) is a Princeton graduate student who promotes an online gambling site on campus, earning commissions to pay off his tuition. The school clamps down on his activities, and he loses all his savings on a last ditch all-or-none bet. He does some in-depth study of the site, and discovers it might be “cheating” (is anyone surprised). So Furst is off to Costa Rica to seek Ivan Block (Affleck), the kingpin of online gaming. Continue reading »

Bernie – A Movie Review

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Jul 272012
 

In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow who was as well-known for her sour attitude as her fortune. Bernie frequently traveled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependant on Bernie and his generosity and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie. The people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that Marjorie Nugent had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder.

Genres:  Comedy, Crime, True Story

Starring:  Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Brady Coleman, Richard Robichaux, Rick Dial

Director:  Richard Linklater

Me and Lay saw this movie a while back. I liked it a lot. He thought it was OK.

I grew up in a small southern town, and grew up in the funeral business (In fact, I was a funeral director myself for a while), so this was a must see movie. It feels like I knew these locals and have heard their sayings all my life. Story is told uniquely with humor, often subtly. Jack Black stole the show. He had the part down perfectly. I’ve met several of those type of funeral directors. Matthew McConaughey is Texas all the way. Bernie has received excellent reviews from the critics, and I think it has that special edge to it.

The story never dragged, and Matthew McConaughey was exactly like every DA in a small town and that wasn’t a stretch for him because he grew up in a not so small Texas town. Shirley McLain was also great. The real stars of this movie were the towns people. Go see this movie.

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Town, The – A Movie Review

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Sep 182010
 

Doug MacRay is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang’s latest job, when they briefly took a hostage–bank manager, Claire Keesey. Though they let her go unharmed, Claire is nervously aware that the robbers know her name and where she lives. But she lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path.

Genres: Drama, Romance, Crime/Gangster and Adaptation; Running Time: 2 hrs.; Release Date: September 17th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.

Directed By: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper

We went to see this movie this afternoon at Veterans 24. The theater was pretty full even at 1:30.

Ben Affleck has proved he is a competent director. That’s not to say this was a mind-blowing movie, but it was solidly directed, well acted, well directed movie with some humor at moments and some intense action sequences.

The movie follows Doug MacRay, a bank robber who pursues a woman he and his crew had taken as a hostage during a heist. Relationships get complicated and the usual drama follows. Ben Affleck can be surprisingly affecting in his roles – he is a rather likable character despite being a crook. His other crew are not so memorable – Jeremy Renner is an interesting portrait, but nothing seen before. He is the typical bad ass who eventually steps beyond his bounds. Honestly, I don’t even remember or care about the other two guys.

The woman, played by Rebecca Hall, does a solid job as Claire Keesey. We see her hardships, her torment and anguish (albeit a bit too much). The chemistry between her and Affleck is not really there, but hey, it’s basically an action movie. Blake Lively seems out of place as MacRay’s former lover. Jon Hamm plays a standard role as the hard driving cop who will stop at nothing. And Affleck’s bosses are funny but not really memorable.

Most action sequences are fast paced and suspenseful (though the heist all seem like I’ve seen them before).

The plot was stretched a bit thin, and some of the motivations of the characters baffled me a bit. Some things were just unclear with the characters, and a lot of loose ends were not tied up. However, it’s not really a big deal to me, as I enjoyed watching it and I took it for what it was: an action film with a little heart.

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Angels and Demons – A Movie Review

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May 172009
 

angelsanddemons_smallposterWhen Robert Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati — the most powerful underground organization in history — he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization’s most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. When Langdon learns that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, he jets to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that mark the Vatican’s only hope for survival.

Genres: Thriller, Adaptation, Politics/Religion and Sequel; Running Time: 2 hrs. 18 min.; Release Date: May 15th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl

Directed By: Ron Howard

This film delivers well as the book was written in a fashion that reads like a international action thriller touching on the intellectual and spiritual.

The film takes off with the development in sciences that would have significance in proving the big bang theory but a crime is committed and a sample of the proof is stolen from a large lab in Europe. As the story progresses, they realize there may be a tie to a group who claim to be the Illuminati and who are seeking to bring down the Catholic church with the truth of science. This somehow involves deeply delving into the history of the Catholic church, it’s security concerns, hidden treasures and the bits of truth that may be stored away that they don’t want the public to be aware of.

From there, the film just gets thicker and faster. Ewan McGregor does a great job and is a refreshing face in the film along with some other good names that round out the cast, unlike Da Vinci Code which had only one mode to the film. Angels&Demons is much more watchable and theatrical. The performances are much better because the book has many bigger than life characters and events. It followed the book better as in the way it didn’t water down the controversy and graphic details. The Angels&Demons film is definitely worth a watch and will wash out any of the bad taste left from Da Vinci Code.

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Rock N Rolla – A Movie Review

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Jan 312009
 

Rock N Rolla PosterA Russian mobster orchestrates a crooked land deal, putting millions of dollars up for grabs and attracting all of London’s criminal underworld.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.; Release Date: October 3rd, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, violence, drug use and brief sexuality.

Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Idris Elba, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Lay and I watched this movie last night on DVD. I admit I was tired, and didn’t give it my full attention. One of my complaints was that the British accents were so heavy, it was hard to follow, but at least the Director was probably being true to the location.

The movie had a unique combination of violence and comedy. This can be hard a combination to do, and Ritchie did OK with it. The acting was fine (as best I could understand). The story line jumped around a lot with a number of plot lines, meaning it probably requires that you watch it twice. The visuals and cinematography was well done.

It was by no means a waste of time, but I’m glad I didn’t pay theater prices to watch it.

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The Bank Job – A Movie Review

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Jul 292008
 

The Bank JobA car dealer with a dodgy past and new family, Terry has always avoided major-league scams. But when Martine, a beautiful model from his old neighborhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street, Terry recognizes the opportunity of a lifetime. Martine targets a roomful of safe deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewelry. But Terry and his crew don’t realize the boxes also contain a treasure trove of dirty secrets – secrets that will thrust them into a deadly web of corruption and illicit scandal that spans London’s criminal underworld, the highest echelons of the British government, and the Royal Family itself…the true story of a heist gone wrong…in all the right ways. 

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.; Release Date: March 7th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language.

Cast: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner

Directed by: Roger Donaldson

Movies that entertain and are worth the price of admission all have one thing in common,a Good Story! This is an entertaining story that is adequately written, acted and directed. For an almost 2 hour film it keeps your attention. It wasn’t the best bank robbery movie I have ever seen, but if you like these kind of films, this one is worth seeing.

I am not too big a Jason Statham fan, but he is right at home in a film such as this. Donaldson moves his story along with an obvious knowledge of the many heist films of the past, using all the classic elements that worked very well back then and still work now, such as  the double cross, of which there are many, and of course the obligatory characters, all of whom have their own special skills. Saffron Burrows is fantastic as the love interest, and the rest of the cast shines as well. Though it is difficult at first to tell just what exactly is going on, the film quickly kicks into high gear the moment the heist goes underway, and from that point on the film is essentially a very well made and exciting exercise in the classic B movie bank robbery scenario.

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Se7en – A Movie Review

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Jul 252008
 

Movie Poster for Se7enLt. William Somerset, a burnt-out veteran cop, is on the brink of retirement. Forced to train his ambitious and eager replacement, Somerset is teamed with Detective David Mills on an investigation that draws these disparate cops deeper and deeper into the twisted world of a cunning and meticulous criminal. He is methodical, exacting and grotesquely creative. He is known as John Doe and he is the most vicious serial killer alive, fashioning murders based on the seven deadly sins. As each new victim is discovered, the detectives must combine their collective experiences to track the trail of a killer bent on seeking attrition for society’s sins.

Genres: Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.; Release Date: September 22nd, 1995; MPAA Rating: R for grisly afterviews of horrific and bizarre killings, and for strong language.

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Roundtree, Kevin Spacey

Directed by: David Fincher

This was a movie we watched weekend before last. It was better than I expected. I started watching this movie and i couldn’t stop until it was over. This gritty film about a serial killer who is doling out punishments according to The Seven Deadly Sins, and leaving a trail of crumbs that lead two police officers to a final act that will leave you stunned with disbelief. What a great storyline and the acting was pretty good. Freeman played a great cop and an extremely creepy Kevin Spacey is an exceptional demented bad guy. Brad Pitt is much younger then, and some inexperience comes through, but overall he handles the part reasonably well. The ending of this movie will shock you, probably my favorite ending of any movie and it’s not often you see Hollywood end a movie like this. Such a dark movie that it will leave you thinking about it for days after the movie. You have to see this one.

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News of the week ending Nov. 9, 2007

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Nov 092007
 

Another Grow House in Polk CountyTBO.com
It seems this was attacked by three people when he stepped outside of his garage. The three men went the man’s house and attempted to steal some plants he had growing inside. Vigilant neighbors had called police about a disturbance. The cops arrived and arrested the three burglars, and of course the homeowner for his little home-based business.

Man Shoots Himself-Blames GangTBO.com
A 19 year old Palmetto showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. When the police showed up, he first stated he’d been shot by a Latino street gang. Antwon Stuckey later changed his story admitting he accidentally shot himself. Seems he was on probation, so being in possession of a gun was the best thing for him to be doing.

Rapper Hides in Ladies Room – Tampa Bay Times
A local rapper, Black Rain, who does a song called “Gun Shine State” ran to the ladies restroom in a club in which he was performing last week when someone fired a shot. After determining he couldn’t fit through the bathroom window, he waited a while, then slipped out after everyone had left.

It’s Me, It’s Me, It’s Ernest TTBO.com
Like the character Ernest T. Bass on the old Andy Griffith show, Joseph David Steele of Tampa violated a restraining order obtained by a neighbor, threw bricks through her windows, kicked in her door, and shoved her. He was arrested on a violation of the order, but I’m sure will be back on the streets in no time. Unfortunately, Ernest T. was pretty harmless, this guy probably isn’t.

American Gangster

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Nov 062007
 

American GangsterNobody used to notice Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the quiet driver to one of the inner city’s leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. He comes to rule the inner-city drug trade, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene.

Director:
Ridley Scott

Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast:
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Lymari Nadal, Ted Levine, Roger Guenveur Smith, John Hawkes, RZA, Yul Vazquez, Malcolm Goodwin, Ruby Dee

Lay and I went to set “We Own the Night” Sunday night at Westshore. We arrived to find the parking lot nearly empty, so we rightly assumed that American Gangster might not be packed. So that’s what we watched.

This movie was long, but Anyone who has every seen a Ridley Scott film will know that his films are long. (Blade Runner, A Good Year, Matchstick Men, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, all ran for at least two hours or more.) Scott didn’t set out to film another scarface, he set out to tell a story not just about Frank Lucas but rather a tale of corruption and how pervasive it is. There were a number of subplots, but they all played to the overarching theme of the movie. I never felt tired or bored, and the movie moved along at a nice clip.

This was a great biopic of New York gangster Frank Lucas, who I knew nothing about. The film shows Lucas’s relationship with the Italian Mafia perfectly, giving you almost a two way view of the city’s underworld. Denzel Washington excels at the part as Lucas, and Russell Crowe as the cop out to get him is excellent. Crowe does well portraying a cop out to just do his job but can’t do it for the corruption all around him. It’s a film about Lucas’ rise to fame in New York’s Heroin business, and his fall due to both Crowe and police persistence.

With many gangster films, you are always put off by either the acting or the story. But here this is not the case with this story. You have a true story that does not mask Lucas’s violent life but rather portrays it as a life of both murder and violence. It does not glamorize his life, and the story is and characters are well-developed but understated, despite the over-the-top lifestyles that had to be sometimes depicted. Crowe and Washington play well off each other.

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