The Bag Man-A Movie Review

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Jun 052014

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 »

What Just Happened – A Movie Review

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Nov 102008

What Just Happened Movie PosterTwo nail-biting, back-stabbing, roller-coaster weeks in the world of a middle-aged Hollywood producer as he tries to juggle an actual life with an outrageous series of crises in his day job. Ben is besieged by people who want him all to be sorts of things — a money maker, an ego buster, a bad news breaker, an artistic champion, a loyal husband, an all-knowing father, not to mention sexy, youthful and tuned-in — everything except for the one thing he and all the preposterously behaved people he’s surrounded by really are: bumbling human beings just trying to survive by any means necessary.

Genres: Comedy and Adaptation; Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.; Release Date: October 17th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for language, some violent images, sexual content and some drug material.

Starring: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Lay and I went to see this movie Saturday night. The reviews are definitely not outstanding, but it was hardly a terrible movie. It certainly moved slowly in places, and a few parts were over-played. De Niro did a great job as the lead character. They did use a technique of doing fast forwards in the film. I think I know why the did it, but it really didn’t add anything, as was overdone to the point of becoming a little annoying. All-in-all though, I’d say the film is worth watching, but probably not until its out on DVD.

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Righteous Kill – A Movie Review

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Sep 142008

Righteous Kill PosterA pair of veteran New York City police detectives are on the trail of a vigilante serial killer. After 30 years as partners in the pressure cooker environment of the NYPD, highly decorated Detectives David Fisk and Thomas Cowan should be ready for retirement, but aren’t. Before they can hang up their badges, they are called in to investigate the murder of a notorious pimp, which appears to have ties to a case they solved years before. Like the original murder, the victim is a suspected criminal whose body is found accompanied by a four line poem justifying the killing. When additional crimes take place, it becomes clear the detectives are looking for a serial killer, one who targets criminals that have fallen through the cracks of the judicial system. His mission is to do what the cops can’t do on their own–take the culprits off the streets for good.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama and Thriller

Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.; Release Date: September 12th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and brief drug use.

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, 50 Cent, Donnie Wahlberg, Carla Gugino

Directed by: Jon Avnet

I was expecting something much less than I got, based on the reviews. What I got was a well acted realistic thriller that had me guessing until the end! The story was plausible and the the shots in NY gave a gritty if not perfect view of the underbelly of the city and its police force.

Pacino and De Niro are really great in this movie. It does start a little, but once you get into the story, and think you have it all figured out, you suddenly get thrown a curve ball. Lot’s of tight facial shots can be tiring in some movies, but in this movie, they are used effectively to draw you into the movie, and give you a sense of intimate involvement in the story. It’s not the best cop movie I’ve seen, but it is definitely worth watching.

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Good Shepherd, The

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Jan 282007

The Good ShepherdThe tumultuous early history of the Central Intelligence Agency is viewed through the prism of one man’s life.

Directed by
Robert De Niro

Drama, Thriller

Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Tammy Blanchard, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Keir Dullea, Michael Gambon, Martina Gedeck, William Hurt, Timothy Hutton, Mark Ivanir, Gabriel Macht, Lee Pace, Joe Pesci

Lay had a school related activity Saturday, so I went to see this movie on my own. He wasn’t too keene on seeing the movie anyway, but I was, and I did enjoy it.

The movie jumps back and forth in time periods. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get a TV image of President Kennedy in the Cuban Missle Crisis to know that we’ve suddenly entered the time-warp from the 1940s to 1961. Other times, there is no such clue. The characters don’t even seem to change in age as we go back and forth.

The scope of the film, while seeming grand at first as it sweeps quarter century, turns out to be rather microcosmic with a series of vignettes instead of a unified story line. The focus remains mainly on the effect of the cloak and dagger on one man, Edward Wilson Sr., and his wife and son and the conflict of loyalties to country and family. Since the account is fictionalized history, we’re not sure what to accept as biography and history as we watch the homo-erotic, cross-dressing elite WASPy Yale camaraderie turn into boys playing with big toys and geopolitics. Wilson, apparently patterned after James Jesus Angleton, is bred to elitism and public service from childhood and matriculates to Yale in the late 1930s to make the necessary career connections.

The good shepherd lays down his life for his flock, according to a parable of Jesus. After Allies win World War II, wartime intelligence, among them the fictional Wilson and his classmates, continue their work as shepherds to keep the Free World free, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

“Central Intelligence Agency” consumes their lives as did their Yale secret society “Skull and Bones,” which reportedly has the loyalties of Presidents Bush 41 and 43 and Sen. John Kerry, among other government and business leaders. Why isn’t “the” used with the name of the agency? We’re told it is because “the” isn’t used for God either.

The film is nonetheless interesting for its strong acting by the studied taciturnity of Matt Damon and the effete professor Michael Gambon with a secret life. The ethnic portrayals add some color to the white bread. Director Robert DeNiro mugs in a role reminiscent of “Wild Bill” Donovan, a lone Catholic wary of recruiting others for agency. Joe Pesci is, what else?, the Italian mobster in Florida. John Tuturro is the street-smart Italian army sergeant Ray Brocco, who follows Wilson to the CIA to bruise his knuckles as an interrogator. Angela Jolie transforms from a lusty patrician daughter looking for husband material among her brother’s Yalie classmates to a long-suffering wife in pearls. Alec Baldwin is the ubiquitous G-man in trench-cost.

There are a number of lesser-known actors in the ensemble who were superb like Laura (Tammy Blanchard), the deaf woman at Yale who is the only one who brings out love from Edward Wilson Sr. Mark Ivanir and John Sessions as dueling defectors were especially memorable as was Oleg Stefan as Wilson’s Soviet counterpart.

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