“FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD” (2015) Fox Searchlight

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Release date: Friday, May 1st, 2015 in select theatres

Being the film adaptation of a book I read so long ago by Thomas Hardy, that I couldn’t really remember the entire plot. And I’m glad because this film reminded me of what stunning story this literary classic really truly is.

Not being a romantic film lover by nature, I will say this film completely surprised me out of the blue of how much I truly liked it.
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For those of you who like me, might not remember this story, or have never read it at all, it’s the story of the inordinately named “Bathsheba Everdene” (Carey Mulligan) a headstrong, and independent woman who within a short period of time, attracts the proposals of three very different men the times being what they were and all. The first, a sheep farmer named “Gabriel Oak” (Matthias Schoenaerts), then “William Boldwood” (Michael Sheen), a wealthy, older bachelor who owns the farm next to the one Bathsheba has inherited from her uncle who passed, and lastly, the oh-so-handsome, though completely reckless gambler, “Sergeant Frank Troy” (Tom Sturridge).
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Mulligan really does a fine job here considering the original film had the wonderful Julie Christie in the same role. She comes across as clever and strong, so quick in her feelings, expressing in clear voice when noting to her suitors that she has no need to be married or owned by a man as she puts it bluntly. Haughty, yet at the same time, fickle and so vulnerable and silly in her choices at times she holds all the contradictions of this character very well.
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Of the three suitors, Michael Sheen stands out the most as he is so convincing in his adoration of Bathsheba, you can hardly watch as you feel his torment wafting over you. Flashy, and very much the cad, is Sturridge, who dreamy good looks, don’t change the fact that you just don’t like his character much even though you completely get why she falls for him because at the beginning he challenges her and her feelings like the others have not. When the mistake of this relationship is realized, we go back to our hero, the ever faithful Mr. Oak, played well here by go-to good looking man of the moment, Matthias Schoenaerts. From moment one, when he bashfully gains the courage to ask her to marry him after meeting only once, you spend the whole film rooting for her to just come to her senses already and see what has always been standing right in front of her. Him.

This film definitely does the book justice and I loved the many plot twists and turns the story takes. It’s a wonderful ride and visually stunning. For a self-professed non-romantic film lover such as myself, this movie was simply beautiful to me.

Grade: B

Screening: Thursday, April 23, 2015 at Arclight Sherman Oaks

*see ratings scale*

“LITTLE BOY” – PREMIERE REVIEW (2015) Open Road Films

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“Little Boy” is one of those ‘feel good’ films in which deals with the story of a 8-year-old boy trying to bring World War II to an end so that he can see his father again.
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It follows the story of “Pepper Flynt Busbee” (Jakob Salvanti) having a crisis of life that children can have, after his father, “James” (Michael Rapaport), is drafted to war after his brother “London” (David Henrie) is deemed unfit for being flat-footed. While his mother “Emma” (Emily Watson) can only stand by as the local priest “Father Oliver” (Tom Wilkinson) gets the unusually small boy, who is given the nickname “Little Boy” by all the townspeople of O’Hare, which is one of those picturesque little towns that you only see in postcards, to think that he can actually ‘will’ his father back home if he follows a list of good deeds to do.

While the film does capture the magic-obsessed boy trying in trying to navigate the fine line between the reality of his life with the delusion of his fantasies because of his love for his father, it’s also very predictable and a bit dangerous in stating that all the boy has to do is wish it, and it will happen. Add in our country’s anti-Japanese resentment during the war, depicted in a bit too cartoonish strokes at times, as once Pepper befriends the only Japanese man in town, “Hashimoto” (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), in part as its one of the things on said list, and of course changing the way he thinks about the prejudices of the times. The little town is full of racists, including his own brother, who so readily buying into the delusion as Little Boy is part of a magic trick that really sends his imagination, and theirs over the top. In one scene, at the precise moment the boy’s attempt to ‘move a mountain’ coincides with an earthquake striking the area with the towns newspaper then reporting the boy has done it.

All in all, I think it might be trying to be a well-meaning film but is quite manipulative on a very misguided scale. In this case, Little Boy is the rare faith-based type film that many viewers may find legitimately offensive because of what it suggests is just too much. By telling kids to just ‘wish’ for something to make it happen by doing a few good deeds, is truly not a good thing. They should’ve stuck to just doing good things for all the right reasons, not the one depicted here.
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David Henrie

David Henrie


On a side note, I did enjoy meeting the cast and director of the film. All very nice people and of all the oddities of this premiere I sat next to Tara Reid and the Jedward Twins, whom I had no idea who they were until I got home and researched Irish twins. ha! They were sweet and nice as anything, told me I would cry during the film, I didn’t. And Tara for all her bad press, was so nice and fun. Kind of went in tone for the film for me, Don’t always believe everything you see or read.

Premiere: Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 at Regal Cinemas DTLA – Film is now playing nationwide
Grade: ‘D’
@peggyatthemovies

(See ratings scale)

“AGE OF ADALINE” (2015) Lionsgate

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Release date: Friday, April 24th, 2015

The Age of Adaline plays like preposterous story, booby-trapped for maximal ridiculousness, with little tasteful conviction and is far from the tearjerker suggested by the trailer. While it’s not entirely an unpleasant film, it is more than a bit dull, reining in the inherent silliness of its material and taking few risks — in other words..Sappy, Sappy and then more Sap. Throw in some absolutely terrible dialogue and some mediocre acting and you have yourself “The Age of Adaline.” While the plot might be unrealistic, at least it’s based on something a lot of us might actually wish could happen, whereas the actual dialogue is not even something the bigger stars of this film can save, and it’s hard to watch that kind of talent be forced to actually repeat this script.

As we plod through this story of “Adaline Bowman” (Blake Lively) a woman who has miraculously remained youthful 29 years old while actually being 109 years of age, they never pull us inside Adaline’s head space or make the premise, which could actually be interesting if done well, meaningful. For example, they never really delve into the fact that the character is being a woman at once old and young at the same time..Instead, they stick to a fairly bland romantic storyline, reducing Adaline’s presumably terrifying, enlightening experience to a predictable choice between following her head or her heart.
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In this little ditty of sappy movie gone bad, Adaline has remained ageless for nearly eight decades due to a freak lightening storm-car accident combination that happened to her. After years of a solitary life of never allowing anyone to get close to her lest they find out her big secret, lo and behold, on a completely ‘chance’ encounter..she meets a man, a charismatic philanthropist named “Ellis Jones” (Michiel Huisman) on a one-night stand and yep, you guessed it, he immediately falls in love with her..literally within 12hrs and wisks her away to his parents house in the country to meet them. Because yeah, that always happens. Without giving to much away, it turns out his father, “William Jones” (Harrison Ford) might already know her. Cathy Baker is “Connie Jones” Ellis’ mother and she can see something is up from moment one, but neither one of these good actors can save the really awful dialogue they are made to spout out.
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If you haven’t figured out by now or what’s going to happen next while cringing in your seat, well, then this film is perfect for you. And yes, I know there is a niche’ audience for these types of films, and I can roll with that. What I can’t roll with is bad writing and while Blake Lively has done some really good supporting turns in such films as The Town, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Savages, she cannot yet carry an entire film as not even Ellen Burstyn as her ‘daughter’ “Flemming” can save this confected cream puff of a melodrama. This film never lunges into four-hankie territory, nor does it melt into Nicholas Sparks type corny romance. It had potential, sadly they missed it.

Screening at AMC Century City 15 ~ Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Grade: D
@pegsatthemovies

(See ratings scale)

“LOST RIVER” (2015) Review/Q & A interview w/Ryan Gosling

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Note: Screening at Sundance Sunset Cinemas ~ Sunday, April 12th.

Ryan Gosling has always moved to the beat of his own drum..and in his directorial debut “Lost River” definitely shows you it’s no ordinary drumbeat that he’s moving to.

The once vibrant town known as simply as “Motor City”, Detroit is sadly now decaying and it’s newsworthy abandoned-house scary-ness, sets up the rather miserable and macabre foundation of this story of “Billy” (Christina Hendricks), a single mother of two, who is swept into this bizarro underworld trying to do what is needed to survive with her family, while “Bones” (Iain De Caestecker) her teenage son, discovers a secret road that leads him to a underwater town. lost river 3

The broad overline of this ‘fairy tale’ gone bad, looks at the lengths to which a single mother will go to avoid defaulting on her mortgage. As her attempt to renegotiate terrible loan terms fails, and the sleazy wolf of this tale is her bank manager,“Dave” (Ben Mendelsohn), who not only will make you think twice about ever walking in to your bank branch again, but offers her work in the macabre vaudevillian fetish den he manages on the side. With “Cat” (Eva Mendes) as her “mentor” in this macabre world with scenes that will definitely not be for every one, as while they are shot in amazing fashion, not always easy to watch or even make sense for that matter.
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In the meantime, Bones is stealing metal scraps to fund the repairs to the broke-down vehicle that seems to be thought of as his only viable means of escape. At night, him and his wannabe girlfriend “Rat” (Saoirse Ronan) are stalked by local thug king “Bully” (Matt Smith), who sits atop an actual throne that’s affixed to his souped-up motor city chariot, in another case of where the fairy tale references are too roundabout and evasive.
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All the while this two waaay different sides of the film is going on, we find out about an urban myth which blames the residents’ poor fortunes on a curse of bad town planning, which P.S. also gives you the meaning to the film’s (and the town’s) name. As Bones finds the existence of this underwater city, long since drowned out, he goes to retrieve a piece of it as this will ‘end the curse’

By this time, trust me, you are pretty lost in following whatever story/fable it is that is trying to be told here. Truly, see this film at your own risk. All I can say is Ryan Gosling, I adore you, but if this is what’s in your head..

Luckily for me, this was a Q & A screening and I got “Hot Fuzz” director Edgar Wright and Ryan Gosling himself to talk about the film. Gosling opened up about the process of making his first film, stating that his biggest surprise was the production timeline.
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“I didn’t know it was going to take three years. You don’t know how to make a movie until you make one. As many as I’ve made as an actor, it doesn’t prepare you at all,” he admitted. “But that’s also the best part about it, the thing that I love the most. I got to spend this big chunk of time with this one thing. When you act, it’s amazing, but it’s a few months and that’s it. So the long game of it all was really a surprise to me, but in the end, it’s probably one of the best parts.”

He also noted that though he didn’t realize it, it was pointed out to him that it’s his version of dark ‘Goonies,’
Gosling also said he confided to director Nicolas Winding Refn, telling him that he wasn’t sure if the $5 million he raised to make the film would be enough; “$5 million?” replied Refn. “You can make ‘Star Wars’ for $5 million!” This gave Gosling the confidence to follow through with making the film. “That’s bullshit by the way,” Wright jumped in at the Q&A, referring to Refn’s claim.

Before he had even had a story in mind, Gosling started gathering footage around Detroit. Later, he wrote the script to accompany what inspiration he took from the decaying Detroit landscape. Gosling said he then took the footage and the story idea to director Guillermo del Toro, who told him, “If you don’t direct it, I will.” Gosling said he “felt like the wizard had given me my sword and my shield and sent me off on my mission.”

So at least I understand now the ‘how & why’ it got made, it didn’t change my mind about the movie I’d just watched, but it did make me hopeful that Gosling’s next venture will be so much more.

Grade: ‘D’
@pegsatthemovies

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My “Last Call” with the cast of “Justified” ~ Paley Center Event

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Note: Series final for Justified is Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Being this was my #1 in my review of “Top 10 Shows I am watching right now” with Justified being my numero uno to watch, saying goodbye to it and everyone on it was heartbreaking yet so fun..as they say, parting is such sweet sorrow. So to bid it one last adieu tonight as The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills hosted “An Evening with FX channel’s Justified”. Featuring some of it’s top cast members: Timothy Olyphant “Raylan Givens”, Joelle Carter “Ava Crowder”, Erica Tazel “Rachel Brooks”, Jacob Pitts “Tim Gutterson” and the shows creator, Graham Yost who all came to say farewell.

To start off with, with some fun tidbits from the press line interviews:
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Jacob Pitts..When I asked him about Tim and Rachel, you know everyone loves them – what are the chances of a spin-off for The Tim & Rachel show?
His answer being he doesn’t think there is much of a chance..though he would not be opposed to it..but said “that’s a small ship in big seas.”
I made the 2nd question a fun one of “Who is the prankster on the set?” and with no hesitation whatsoever, Tim! He’s gotten the writers a few times with what he thinks should be in a scene..and Jacob helped him on some of those capers (lots of laughter) though “we are grown adults who have a professional job to do and we do it coldly and with precision”.. (more laughter)

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Joelle Carter.. when I asked what’s next for her, she put it out there that she would love to do another character as strong as Ava..while having a few juicy movie roles come her way also. Which is something I think we all would love to see also. As for rolling around in the dirt and getting battle scars from filming, yeah, when it came to the end of the series, she was glad that part of it was done.

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Graham Yost.. As I was going to pitch him the Rachel/Tim spinoff idea as he’s the creator riiigght.. Jacob came running up behind him and wanted to pitch it himself, we had a few good laughs as I called him out on totally trying to poach and pitch my idea..heyyy.. 🙂 it was all in good fun as while Graham likes it too, sadly..it’s not gonna happen.

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Timothy Olyphant.. I asked him what’s next for Timothy Olyphant and as he’s noted on various shows like Ellen & Conan..he’s looking for a job!! And yep..he is. We talked tennis for a moment as I’ve sat by him at Indian Wells for a match watching his good friend Mardy Fish play, and asked if maybe the pro-tennis circuit was on his radar. Fear not all, he’s sticking with acting. And on him being the prankster of the set.. naaahhh..we agreed he’s an angel and they have no idea what they are talking about. ha!
Sadly I didn’t get the chance to interview Erica Tazel as press line was being wrapped up and I had to choose between that or running in and getting a seat at the panel. :/

Moving along to the panel – you can tell how much this cast not only enjoyed working with each other and on this show, but the respect they have for each other, and most definitely Elmore Leonard, who passed away in 2013 during the 4th season of the show, acknowledging how much they missed working with him. There is no doubt the man had a way with words, but this cast delivered those words like no other. He definitely made an impact on all the cast who worked with him and that they wanted to carry on his legacy in the right way was made apparent.

The fantastic guest stars that they had over the years who made fantastic characters, some of the favourites names by the cast: Margo Martindale “Mags Bennett”, Jere Burns “Winn Duffy”, Ron Eldard “Colton Rhodes” and Sam Elliott “Avery Markham” to name a few. They loved all their guest stars and for those of you wondering..while not a villain.. Patton Oswalt aka CONSTABLE BOB LIVES!!

Jacob puts it out there that he would have been fine with Boyd Crowder killing off his character Tim, though hey..he just might as we won’t know until next week!
They all seemed to agree that on favourite scenes, the #1 by far was the animal in the bag with Dickie and Coover. And the shows willingness to always just ‘go for it’ and ‘swing for the fences’ is something Olyphant notes that he just loved.
One of Joelle’s best scenes was of course probably one of ours also, where Ava gets her hair cut in prison. Now little did we know at the time, that was actually her real hair stylist who she kept saying she was sorry she was hurting her but she’d never cut hair with a shiv before!!!

While we got no spoilers for the finale..though trust me, some people tried, but hey, we REALLY don’t want it spoiled do we!! I for one, want to see it unfold as it happens because there are so many ways it can go and I’m excited for it, but we did get a note that the finale will have a lot of flashbacks from the past as Graham Yost appreciates that the fans pay close attention to these facts. Also, we do find out ‘What matters to us’ as Raylan has said to Boyd.

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Now right smack in the middle of all this, Jacob Pitts announces he’s gotta use the restroom and to the ensuing laughter that comes with that announcement, Graham Yost asks to “please leave his mike on for this”. Stellar moment of laughs with this stellar cast.

And yes, they all took some souvenir’s from the set: Graham Yost – a “Welcome to Harlan County” sign which received a big collective “ahhhh” from the audience as I think we ALL want one of those. Erica Tazel – took her nameplate. Joelle Carter – took her parking spot nameplate. Timothy Olyphant – took something he had made during early during the shooting of the show, didn’t name what it was tho..maybe his awesome hat..we don’t know..but he pretty much readily admitted he took stuff all along..ha! Jacob Pitts – I think he said socks.. yep..socks.

Favourite violent scene – hands down the arm-chop and the Winnebago fight won!!

As I’ve noted before in panels like this, some of the best questions and funniest moments are when the audience gets to ask questions as you NEVER know what will happen.
First off Timothy being asked on his being possibly being type cast in Western type series i.e., Deadwood and now Justified, though not exactly a western..kinda the genre is what the point was being made..his response was priceless “you mean being cast as a badass, yeah that would be awful wouldn’t it” in other words, nope not worried.
Then asked about his similarity of looks to Garrett Dillahunt (Ty Walker) not worried at all..he’s a great actor and had a beard after all.

And yes, Walton Goggins teeth are that white in real life!! says Joelle..she’s seen them up close..

The character of Boyd Crowder was actually supposed to die in Season 1 but the chemistry between Raylan & Boyd was undeniable so they decided to keep him around for awhile.. and here we are at the series finale and he’s still standing..as of now.

I think the fact that they noted they were all brought to tears on set at the end of filming says a lot of how much they noted they will all miss working with one another.

And with that we say goodbye to the wonderful cast and creator of Justified. Thank you for an amazing six seasons and for entertaining us so well through it all. To everyone from cast, guest stars, writers, producers and crew, a heartfelt–Thank You!

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And that concludes my fantastic last ‘date’ with the cast of “JUSTIFIED” Hope you all have enjoyed the show as much as I have and be sure to tune in for the series finale, Tuesday, April 14th.

@pegsatthemovies
peggyatthemovies.com

10 top TV shows I’m watching right now

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And you should be too!! It’s been awhile since I’ve done this list and so many shows have come & gone..too many of my favs ending their series runs like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Mad Men & Justified all in the same year for crimeny sakes. Luckily a few good news ones have popped up and I will be updating this every few weeks from now on. Now onto some great TV….
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THE RED ROAD (Sundance Channel)
Martin Henderson & Jason Momoa are really outstanding in this show. They play the best hardcore ‘frenemies’ I’ve seen in quite some time in a show that’s refreshingly different from the same ol’ cops & robbers genre.

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THEBLACKLIST (NBC)

James Spader.. enough said. He is fantastic here. Add in a now all grown up-looking amazing -from 90210 –Ryan Eggold doing some decent work and Diego Klattenhoff stepping up in a good supporting and you have yourself a pretty damn good show. Megan Boone as the female lead, for some reason can be the only thorn in my side in some episodes though most everything revolves around her. I also love the complete diversity of what this cast does.

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THE GOLDBERGS (ABC)
I’m sorry but their “Ferris Bueller” episode a few weeks ago was so so so very spot on and had me laughing harder than I have in some time. Every episode brings me back to what at the time, I thought was the worst period in my life.. turns out it was the best and Wendi McClendon-Covey kills it every single week as the mom. The whole family is just so spot on.. If you’re not watching this show, you clearly didn’t grow up in the best decade EVER!! 🙂
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BROOKLYN NINE NINE (FOX)
SURPRISE! Another comedy for me which is unusual because I’m very picky on my comedies as shockingly enough, I actually prefer them to be funny. And this one is. The whole cast is so deadpan spot on and work so well together I can’t stop laughing each and every episode.

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12 MONKEYS (SyFy)
I’m telling you..Syfy channel has been rocking it and really stepped up their game in the last few years. This show being one of the reasons and one of the best ones on TV right now period. Each episode has upped itself a notch and Aaron Stanford, Kirk Acevedo & Amanda Shull truly take this show to the next level. So granted it took me 3 episodes to realize it was based on the Bruce Willis/Brad Pitt movie, but give me a break, that was 1995!!!

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BROADCHURCH (BBC AMERICA)
You know I love my British dramas. The first season of this show was mind-bogglingly good. Then they tried the American-ized version Gracepoint with a great cast, including David Tennant whom they said ‘couldn’t be understood by audiences in the U.K. version’ reallly.. I had no problem and still have no problem understanding him, but the U.S. version was quite awful. So now we are on Season 2 and it’s carried on from season 1 so well which I think was the big question everyone had. Could it be as good? The answer is yes.

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THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)
After a spectacular Season 5 where this show had some of the best writing I’d seen in a while for network TV.. Season 6 came back with a new firm, Florrick, Lockhart & Agos and has been a bit of a roller coaster at times swinging back n forth between good at times, but a bit confusing. But as of this past Sunday, WHOA! Don’t miss this show people.. it’s what Scandal etc. wish they could be.

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VIKINGS (HISTORY)
So it’s probably not exact history, but then what really is. We don’t know how the Vikings sounded or exactly what language they spoke, but we do know a lot of their history based upon their gods and what happened between them & the Christians. And we know they discovered America way before Columbus did and were amazing navigators & shipbuilders for their time. We also know that they were true warriors and yes, raided other countries to death. Travis Fimmel has found his calling in this role. He is perfect as King Ragnar and Clive Standen as his brother Rollo is just plain badass.. oh did I mention they are hot..well yeah, they are but the show is also reeeally good and Kathryn Winnick as the bad-ass Lagertha tops this cast off showing true girl power. This is not only a well done good show, it’s entertaining as end all.

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MAD MEN (AMC)
Where would we be without Don Draper??!! Much less entertained in my opinion. This show has stunned us, made us look back in our pasts to see where our futures are.. reminded us of a way things were done not all that long ago, and done it so stylishly we’ve all just fell in love with it. The fact that this show is one of the shows I love that is ending, makes it all the harder to look forward to these last episodes. Don, Peggy, Ken, Pete, Betty, Joan, Harry, Roger and all the rest whom we grown so fond of..let’s smoke one last cigarette together while mixing a drink at work..at noon!

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JUSTIFIED (FX)
Oh Raylan..oh Boyd.. oh Ava.. how I will miss you so. I wouldn’t know where to begin or end with how much I love this show and how good this final season is. We are at the very end, and 3 things I will miss most.. the witty amazing dialogue, the fantastic acting by Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel and Nick Searcy along with the rest of the absolutely fantastic co-stars & guest stars that have made this show, and the opening song.. Something I never fast forward through. Oh and producers/directors/writers/FX network ~ can you please give Rachel (Erica Tazel) & Tim (Jacob Pitts) there own spin-off show..pretty please.

‘Cinderella’, ‘Insurgent’, ‘Danny Collins’, ‘Jauja’, ’71’, ‘The Salvation’, ’50 Shades of Grey’

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So I’ve seen a bunch of films lately that have all been pretty average or just plain bad..with one I really liked!! And as sometimes we all feel like a bad film has just sucked it out of us, I didn’t even feel like giving some of them a review..but then decided to suck it all in and just put them all in one with a few bits about each and let everyone make up their own minds to see them or not.

I’m starting with the one that actually surprised me out of the group because I actually did like it…not love it mind you, but a good ‘like’ is pretty much all I’m looking for now-a-days from a film!
So let’s begin:
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CINDERELLA (2015) Disney Studios – Every little girl knows this story by heart growing up..it’s truly a little girls fantasy that no matter how crappy things are, you have the chance of one day meeting your ‘prince’. We all bank on it somewhat that it could actually happen. And then you grow up. ha! What surprised me was how much I liked revisiting this version of the story. Richard Madden as “Prince Kit”, (whom I loved and miss as Robb Stark), really made a very believable Prince and Lily James is a quite wonderful “Cinderella”. Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother was perfect, and it’s always nice to see ‘Daisy’ from Downton Abbey (one of my fav. characters of that show) Sophie McShera “Drisella” and Holliday Grainger “Anastasia” doing a fun spin on the wicked stepsisters. Throw in Stellan Skarsgard as the “Grand Duke” and Derek Jacobi as the “King” and you have a well-rounded out cast that brings some new blood & life to this story. And that’s what I liked best of all about it. Told in a little bit more updated version, though not time-wise, but tale-wise, brought it all to life in a really nice wrapped up gift. Was it super fantastic and the best Cinderella story ever told..nah..but it certainly was a nice breath of fresh air and a decent enough way to spend an afternoon reliving the little girl inside of me.

Grade: C+

Next on the list:
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INSURGENT (2015) Lionsgate/Summit Ent.
For this one I actually looked back at my review of “Divergent” from back in March of 2014. https://peggyatthemovies.com/2014/03/26/peggyatthemovies-review-of-divergent-2/ .

Basically I could just repeat it almost word for word except for a few minor things.. Like first off how this one was worse, second of all; bad bad casting decision on Naomi Watts as “Evelyn”, Four’s mother. And yes, the lovely Theo James reprising his role here, though annoying enough he kills the best character they had of all as I noted in my Divergent review also, “Eric” (Jai Courtney) this time round. You know my motto, you’re only as good as your villain and Courtney played a good villain.
Miles Teller as “Peter” steps it up some this time, but after you’ve seen him in Whiplash, it’s hard to take this performance seriously as you now know what he’s truly capable of. Ansel Egort “Caleb” is pretty non-existent both in character and performance, and Shailene Woodley coming back as “Tris” is annoyingly bad…again. I mean in an opening scene she decides to chop off all her hair for a new look.. now we know with the hack-knife that she’s using there is no way this is coming out well.. but oh no..not with Shailene..it’s perfectly coiffed hair cut. Please. Stop it.

I didn’t hate the first one, but I liked this one even less and losing a good villain and not adding anyone of consequence..I think I might be out of town, or ya know, busy washing my hair for the next one.

Grade: D

Moving on—
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DANNY COLLINS (2015) UNIVERSAL

Sigh. I j’adore Al Pacino. I always have. I’ve met him a few times, sat next to him at a movie at Sony once and he shared his candy with me and is truly one of the nicest guys ever. He’s also Al freaking Pacino!!! I mean… enough said right.

Well here he plays “Danny Collins”, an aging rock star who’s manager & best friend “Frank Grubman” (Christopher Plummer) discovers 40 years after the fact, that John Lennon wrote him a letter telling him to basically stay true to himself at what he was doing at the time. Clearly he didn’t and now decides to change his life and sit down and write the songs that were true to him back then, thinking his now-aged audience will want to hear them. They don’t. There is a back story here that I won’t even get into because it’s so passe’ but I will say that Bobby Cannavale as his son “Tom Donnelly” is refreshingly good and I don’t think gets enough credit for his work ever. Annette Benning “Mary Sinclair” as the hotel manager whom Collins is trying to woo into having dinner and maybe more, with him, of course carries herself. Jennifer Garner “Samantha Donnelly” as Tom’s wife holds her own in this company. There are a few really nice, fun moments and as you see them coming a mile away, a few harder ones also, though you pretty much can see in sight what the ending is. In December I went to a screening with a Q & A with Mr. Pacino afterwards of “The Humbling”. This film is almost a cover version of that one except here he is an aging rock star vs. an aging actor.
But ya know what.. no matter as I will always go see an Al Pacino film.

Grade: C-

Neeexxt…
jauja
JAUJA (2014)
I will be deadly honest with you all here. I am not completely sure what this film was even really about. I went because I was invited to a screening with Viggo Mortensen doing a Q & A afterwards and as I am a big fan of his, I thought “sure I’ll go”. Huh.. I think it’s basically a journey of a father, “Gunnar Dineson” (Mortensen) and daughter “Ingebord” (Villbjork Malling Agger) thru a desert though I’m not sure where they are going exactly, and the daughter runs away with her boyfriend in the middle of it, though there is another person they are hunting, or is he hunting them?? And then he meets a witch in a cave while searching for her.. or does he really?? again, completely confused. And then BOOM! all of a sudden it’s present day and it’s the same daughter living in a nice house but without the father. The whole film switches between Danish & Spanish speaking and let’s just all agree to say that I didn’t get it and call me completely lost on this one.. like ‘we have to go back to the island’ LOST. 🙂

I will say Viggo was an absolutely wonderful guy with a lot to talk about. I think he could tell that I might be a little confused by the film and offered to have me to stay for the second screening they were having later. I told a white lie and said I had plans..which I kinda did. They involved me watching the Malaysian Grand Prix a little later. 🙂 And we ended up talking mostly about football aka soccer, as he brought it up when speaking and it turns out we like the same teams. So there ya have it.
Movie grade: D
Conversation with Viggo grade: A 🙂 Viggo

71
’71
Being a fan of Jack O’Connell‘s I saw this film a few weeks back and while for the most part, I liked it, and liked his performance as “Gary Hook” the somewhat dis-oriented British soldier who during a riot on the streets of Belfast during the height of the Irish Catholic/Protestant war i.e., 1971, gets left behind by his unit.
What follows was a bit of a convoluted story for me of him being chased down, beaten up, shot, and surviving a bomb attack all in a matter of what..48hrs. I dunno.. a lot of it just seemed a bit implausible for me. And what’s with him always constantly getting the crap beat out of him in pretty much every single film he’s ever done!! ha! Sorry..sorry.. I know I shouldn’t even be commenting that because this is a serious film..but hey. I call it as I see it.

The side story here is of course religion and how much these people hate each other over it..once again..I’m never that great with these story lines because I’m not religious and can’t imagine killing someone over it. But it’s gone on for thousands of years, and as we all know in Ireland, it was really heavy duty for about 30+ or so years until the ‘peace treaty signed about 17 yrs ago, with this time period truly being the height of it all. There is also a nice sub-plot of crooked police detectives “Sgt. Leslie Lewis” (Paul Anderson), “Capt. Sandy Browning” (Sean Harris) helping both sides in a way and the rest of a good supporting cast including Sam Reid as “Lt. Armitage” who is O’Connell’s commanding officer and seemingly the only person really looking out for him & on his side to find him. This is a rough movie, not altogether great, but it will keep you watching till the end.

Grade: C

Almost to the end..

the salvation
THE SALVATION (2014) IFC Films

Since this just came for a one week run here in L.A. a few weeks ago, I had the chance to catch it on at my favourite art-house theatre, the NuArt. But whoa.. what a film. I mean if one more thing happened to Mads Mikkelson’s character here. Well I just don’t think it would be humanly possible. To put it lightly..this is a dark dark film (yes pun intended) that just takes you places that I probably never want to visit again.

It’s a Western, but not like one you’ve ever seen before because it’s not just Cowboys & Indians here. It’s really like how it must have truly been because there were tons of immigrants coming from all over and settling in as cowboys, though in every Western you’ve ever seen, they just pretend that suddenly everyone was just a regular old southern boy without an accent drifting out West. ZZZzzzzz

Well this one is 1870’s America, the gold rush is on, and this peaceful Danish settler “Jon” (Mads Mikkelson) has been separated from his wife & son for 7 years and finally brings them out to be with him. Literally within an hour of being here, they are kidnapped, his wife raped & murdered & young son also murdered by two degenerates, one of them being a character named “Paul” (Michael Raymond–James). Jon sets out, with his brother “Peter”(Mikael Persbrant) to avenge their deaths and hunts them down and kills them, which then leads to the unleashing of notorious gang leader “Delarue” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) coming after them as Paul was, unbeknownst to Jon, Delarue’s brother. The really weird townspeople then desert him in his hour of need because they don’t want to die, ends up most of them do. Eva Green is thrown in as a character named “Madelaine” who has her tongue cut out so she doesn’t speak..which doesn’t matter as she really can’t act anyways.. and then comes some really hard core horrible death scenes and basically anything that can go wrong for Jon does, until of course it doesn’t.

This isn’t a great film, it a super depressing one to be honest, but it’s also not horrible. Mads is quite good as a cowboy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan even better possibly as the villain, though you know my motto, you’re only as good a your villain..yeah that doesn’t apply here. Jonathan Pryce “Keane”, Eric Cantona “Corsican”, Sean Cameron Michael “Lester” and Jose Domingos “Raul Delgado” all offer good supporting characters. This film was definitely a mixed bag for me.

Grade: C

50 shades
50 SHADES OF GREY (2015) Focus Features/Universal Pictures

What was the big deal here is all I kept thinking about while watching this film. I thought I was going to be watching the second coming of Deep Throat or some really trumped up S & M film or something the way everyone was going on about it..and all I got was an actually very tame, quite badly done film about this guy, “Christian Grey” (Jamie Dornan) wanting to control this girl “Anatasia Steele” (Dakota Johnson). She’s a literature student who works in a hardware store (of course she does) and he’s a tormented handsome, self-made millionaire businessman..ZZZzzzz oh sorry I drifted off there for a minute just telling with that ridiculous storyline. They are like the new Twilight couple featuring some S & M sex vs. vampires & wolves. Control in the way of having her sign a contract before sex, because he doesn’t spend the night with anyone or have relationships..blah blah blah.. of he does end up doing so, she ends up letting him take her to the ‘The Red Room’ and with some reeaaally bad dialogue thrown in and possibly worse acting, you have the story in a nutshell. I don’t think two people with less chemistry together have made a movie about sex so badly before. And truly, there wasn’t anything hardcore about this. Why all the fuss?? So the guy has a dungeon like room full of sex toys.. a few sex scenes that seriously weren’t that far out there at all. I feel like I must have missed something..but if I did, that’s okay because I will probably miss the next few ones in the trilogy also unless they up their game and their acting ..a lot.

Grade: D

So now you see why I just threw them altogether in one review. I like some, but didn’t love any of them. And now I’m caught up, back and ready to go! 😀
@pegsatthemovies
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