REVIEW ~ ST. VINCENT (2014)

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By this time, if there is anyone who hasn’t figured out that Bill Murray is a comedic genius then not only do I feel bad that they’ve missed so many fantastically funny, great movies, but maybe they can find some of it then in this film.  While Murray does a bit of a mixed bag here of comedy and a dramatic turn also, no one can deliver spot on, deadpan sarcasm like Murray.  NO ONE!  His character, “Vincent” is the corrosively, sarcastically funny old man next door who gets softened up a bit by the fact that his new neighbors seem to need his help somewhat with of all things, babysitting of the young boy, “Oliver” (played wonderfully by Jaeden Lieberher).  Oliver and his mom “Maggie” (Melissa McCarthy) are a bit down on their luck as she is going thru a divorce and trying to work long hours and take care of her son.  Step in ne’er-do-well neighbor and all around screw-up Vincent to ‘save the day’ and what ensues is a story of what could be taken two ways.. You can look at it as Vincent teaching Oliver ‘real’ life and what goes on when they spend the day in at the races using Oliver’s lunch money to make a bet and a surprising win, Vincent, showing Oliver how to deliver an upper-cut to nose to defend himself against the school bullies, celebrating at the local bar, or the sweetness of visiting his Alzheimers ridden wife.  Of course it’s not what you’re supposed to do, but taken in the context of the movie can not only be looked at as somewhat of a learning process, but quite funny as well.  StVincent2

But this isn’t all fun and laughs as not only does McCarthy go for a more dramatic start here, giving us some relief from what seems to be her playing the same character her last few comedic movies, but she does it well enough and it’s nice to see her showing she’s got more range than we thought. Murray, is as always quite genius even when his role becomes more challenging in the dramatic sense when he suffers a stroke and goes through a tough recovery process all with the help of what is probably one of the worst characters not only in this movie, but just in general, a very not funny, awfully acted Russian prostitute “Daka” played terribly by (Naomi Watts).  Not only is her accent just awful and grating on your every last nerve, but her garish, harsh makeup really does not flatter here at all. While she is supposed to be somewhat endearing and maybe even a bit funny, the whole character is sadly what makes this movie only good instead of fantastic.  On the fantastic side, newcomer Jaeden Lieberher as Oliver is remarkable in not only his acting skills, but as a child holding his own alongside Murray.  Who knows, we might have another Nicholas Hoult on our hands here! Add in a couple of fun smaller supporting roles from the always wonderful for me, Chris O’Dowd as “Brother Geraghty” a priest in the Catholic school which Oliver attends even though they and most of the children attending aren’t even Catholic, in his always fun, comedic ways, he helps Oliver make his presentation of “St. Vincent”. Terence Howard as “Zucko” the bookie trying to collect Vincent’s gambling debts and Kimberly Quinn as “Nurse Ana” who cares for Vincent’s wife “Sandy” (Donna Mitchell) in the care facility and has a soft spot for him as he tries to do anything and everything to keep her from being moved to another facility.

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Though they do a good job of mixing the right amount of comedic with dramatic adding in just enough heartstrings pull. all in all this adds up to only being a good movie..not a great movie,

Grade: C  (average)

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REVIEW ~ “GONE GIRL” (2014) 20th Century Fox

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Now that pretty much everyone and their mother has done a review of this movie..I present you with mine!! hahahaha  As it’s been a week since I’ve seen it..Yes, I procrastinated big time on this review..oopsie!! So..here we goooooooo.. If you like a mix of the darkest of dark comedies, mixed with suspense and a good thrill..this is the movie for you.  To start with, even as an avid reader, I didn’t read the book specifically because I wanted to see the movie and not be critical of it or know what was going to happen.  I’m glad I didn’t as it keeps the many surprises of plot twists that even though it’s not super hard to figure them out, I was glad to see it all unravel on the big screen.  The toughest part of a review of this movie is not revealing everything in a review..AKA SPOILERS.. and as I never do, and this is a film you especially want to just ‘experience’ all the twists and turns yourself..trust me. gone girl 1

On the day of his 5th wedding anniversary, “Nick Dunne” (Ben Affleck) day goes from starting off bad..to worse day ever!  After spending some time gossiping with his sister “Margo” (Carrie Coon) over his troubled marriage at the ‘The Bar” that they own together, Nick returns home to discover what looks to be the scene of a crime. His wife “Amy Dunne” (Rosamund Pike) seems to be missing. Assigned to the case is “Detective Rhonda Boney” (Kim Dickens) and “Officer Jim Gilpin” (Patrick Fugit) whom suspect foul play, and almost immediately, the local community and the nation somewhat, goes on a search for Amy in part no thanks to the media firestorm that erupts as a result provides the movie’s most pointed satired character by far.. “Ellen Abbott” (Missi Pyle) who plays a news pundit whose look and manner is an unmistakable, spot-on takedown of a certain television personality that I’m sure you will not only figure out, but have a good laugh at.

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Nick tells us one side of their marriage—a troubled one, yes, but one that has its reasons for being in that state. Amy’s parents “Rand & Marybeth Elliot”(David Clennon/Lisa Banes) are the authors of a series of children’s books aka the reason their daughter’s disappearance become national news, which are snidely based on what their expectations were for Amy while she was growing up which she didn’t always succeed at.  In her diary, which cleverly is a big focal point of this movie so pay attention to it, Amy agrees with a lot of Nick says, but she also hints at a darker side to Nick that he doesn’t show.  gone girl 3

That’s the gist of the plot, and again, I don’t want to spoil any of it for anyone as there’s so much more that gradually unravels here.  Fincher has a good style and I always seem to like his films, as they have a good edge and pace to them which makes them pretty enjoyable to watch. Affleck for me is fits perfectly in this role with his boyish charm on full throttle, Rosamund Pike, who I must admit is not always my fav, in movies..but here she is superb & chilling in providing layer after layer to be stripped away until only the unexpected, terrifying truth remains. But my favourite acting here comes from Kim Dickens as the detective with a somewhat comical, sarcastic tone to everything she does. Yes, Neil Patrick Harris is here too as “Desi Collings” but his character is just to weak for me and yes, so is Tyler Perry, playing against his usual Madea type, as the lawyer “Tanner Bolt” and people seem to think this is such a breakout drama performance for him..uhhh NO..remember “Alex Cross” yeah, he’s not all that here either, sorry. This film is a mesmerizing a two hour rollercoaster ride…is it an award winning movie, for me no..but damn it’s entertaining and definitely worth the bang for the buck you will be paying for it.  Go..enjoy..and be entertained! GONE GIRL 4

And  at the end..make sure you always remember the big question as I think we can always ask..”What have we done to each other”

Grade: B-  (above average – MUST see)

(see grading scale)

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REVIEW “THE GOOD LIE” (2014) – Warner Bros.

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Let me preface this review by saying this is not my cup of tea type movie. I never understand the brutality that one religion can enforce on others all in the name of their god or whatever it is.  It saddens me and sickens me what humans will do to each other just because of a certain belief so needless to say I knew going into this screening that it was going to be hard.  I will say had this remained a more documentary style movie, it would have probably been even more heartbreaking, but a much better done movie.

 

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The film tells the story of children who are orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983.  They travel hundreds of miles on foot in search of safety and what goes on during this trek will break your heart and as always during movies like this, it makes me think about how good we really do have it and complaining about the silly things in life, are just that..silly.  Two brothers, “Mamere” (Arnold Oceng) and “Theo” (Femi Oguns) are sons of the Chief in their village in Southern Sudan.  When an attack by the Northern militia destroys their home and kills their parents, as is custom, the eldest son Theo is forced to assume the role of Chief he tries to lead a small group of the young survivors, including his sister “Abital” (Kuoth Wiel) away from all the killing and fighting. Yes, in these places they kill children without a thought or care to it.  Theo tries to do the best he can protecting them and hiding from the soldiers, but the terrain of the desert is just too much and has other dangers in store for them. As the battered group makes the trek to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, they meet other fleeing children, “Jeremiah” (Ger Duany), and “Paul” (Emmanual Jal).

 

 

Thirteen years later, the now young adults names are finally on the ‘list’ and they are given the opportunity to leave the camp and resettle in America.  Upon arriving in Kansas, they are met by “Carrie Davis” (Reese Witherspoon), who is an employment agency counselor who has been enlisted to help find them jobs—no easy task, when things like straws, light switches and telephones are brand new to them and watching them adapt brings along a few lighter touches in the film.  Although Carrie seems to have kept herself from any emotional entanglements in her life, these refugees, who desperately require help navigating the most basic aspects of what we take for granted every day, and rebuilding their shattered lives, need just that.  Somehow they endear themselves to her, she puts herself out on a limb and enlisting the help of her boss, “Jack” (Corey Stoll) steps in to get them all reunited with a few Hollywood made twists.   good lie 1

While I get that they need some Hollywood names in this film as its a Ron Howard/Brian Grazer movie and to get it green-lighted etc..For me, it lost some of the realness of the story in doing so, though it still sends a message. I would have liked to have kept it more real-life as some of the actors are actual Sudanese refugees. Arnold Oceng, newcomer Kuoth Wiel. Ger Duany and rapper Emmanuel Jal, who were both former child soldiers and lost boys,and Femi Oguns.  Rounding out the cast are with a few comedic moments is Sarah Baker as volunteer “Pamela Lowi”  Mike Pniewski as Mamere’s boss, and children of real-life Sudanese refugees Peterdeng Mongok, Okwar Jale, Thon Kueth, Beng Ajuet and Kejo Jale as the younger lost boys who’s performances I enjoyed so much and made the stark reality of the movie come to life.

Does the film take a tough story and turn in into mainstreem movie, yes it does. And while the film itself is only so-so, it does serve a purpose with it’s message along with some definite tugs at your heart.  Together, the Lost Boys and these unlikely strangers find humor in the clash of cultures, and heartbreak as well as hope in the challenges of life in America.

Grade:  C-  (below average)

(See grading scale)

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