Category Archives: Crime Thriller

REVIEW: “THE OUTFIT” (2022) Focus Features

Bringing us back some old school Al Capone-type gangster with it’s opening, director Graham Moore makes his directorial debut here with “THE OUTFIT”, giving us a proper whodunnit mystery that pops along at a decent pace without ever giving too much away.

Mark Rylance takes the lead here as Leonard Burling, a master tailor, or “cutter” as he says a tailor “sews buttons and does hems”. Leonard nicknamed “English” by some of his less than savoury customers, who immigrated over from the U.K., runs a small, high-end tailor shop in Chicago along with his assistant, Mabel (Zoey Deutch). As you watch, we note the shop is possibly also being used as a money drop point for local Irish gangster Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale). When son-of-the-boss Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien), and his side henchman, Francis (Johnny Flynn), find an envelope with dangerous information from an organization known only by their insignia and secret name “The Outfit”. This makes the shop, along with Leonard himself, caught in the middle of a dangerous game between the rival gangs of the city, all of whom buy his suits.

(L to R) Johnny Flynn as “Francis”, Alan Mehdizadeh as “Monk” and Zoey Deutch as “Mable” in director Graham Moore’s THE OUTFIT, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Nick Wall / Focus Features

With the entire film being shot in a single location is a wonderful choice here by Moore with the camera never leaving the confines of the shop, it allows us to see an the entire expansive world of the mystery unfolding before us, and recognizing small details that show up within to add to the makeup of the film. We watch as Leonard has to try to outwit these enemies to make it through the night, and within the singular walls of the store, it lets the characters develop, lets tension build, and keeps everything contained. As well, it let’s the production design sets the mood for the era and elegance within this high-end shop that it all takes place in. The costume design is beautifully done and hits the era of men wearing hats with their beautifully tailored suits, with the musical score helps keep pace with all that is going on around with each character in the shop.

Good acting by the two leads, Mark Rylance who is such a treasure as an actor, and just the gem that makes this film shine, along with Zoey Deutch, who gives her role a snark of sarcasm and confidence that makes one take note. The supporting cast of O’Brien, whose thick Chicago wise-guy accent is distracting at first as it’s so overdone, but he turns it all around with his good turn for the dramatic here, as well Flynn who plays his backstabbing best friend who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to get to the top. Adding in a nice surprise at the end with Nikki Amuka-Bird as Violet, leader of her own Chicago-bred gang, brings a bold note to the film, all the while keeping us guessing as to her true intentions. Note here again to costume design, as Amuka-Bird is flawless in her hat/coat of the time look.

Nikki Amuka-Bird (center) stars as “Violet” in director Graham Moore’s THE OUTFIT, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Focus Features

While not without it’s distractions, ‘The Outfit is not a film of ‘big’ moments happening or filled with big shoot outs or heavy violence, if you’re looking for the tommy gun shootouts between men in big suits riding side-car on cars while shooting up the streets, this is not your movie. If you’re looking for sophisticated decently done whodunnit that unfolds with time, this is your watch and I hope it doesn’t fly under anyone’s radar as it deserves to be watched.

Grade: B

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Monday, March 7, 2022 ~Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

Focus Features will release THE OUTFIT in theaters this Friday March 18, 2022

REVIEW: “THE DRY” (2021) IFC Films

There is nothing like the surprise of finding a really good thriller watch unexpectedly and this wonderful, well-paced whodunnit from the steady hand of director Robert Connolly, “THE DRY”, fits the bill just perfectly. It also didn’t hurt that Eric Bana came back to his roots here, not just with an indie film, but with his own accent as well, something that’s always to be appreciated.

Adapted from the 2016 novel by Jane Harper, writers Harry Cripps and Robert Connolly, tap into something elemental about growing up around the Australian bush. Aaron Falk (Eric Bana), who grew up in the small town of Kiewarra, returns to his childhood home for the funeral of his boyhood friend, Luke Hadler (Martin Dingle Wall). Luke’s wife Karen (Rosanna Lockhart), and young son Billy (Jarvis Mitchell), have been killed with only the young baby being spared, and it is assumed that it’s a murder/suicide and Luke is the culprit. Luke’s parents Gerry (Bruce Spence) and Barb (Julia Blake), refuse to believe Luke could kill himself and his family like this and at the funeral, they ask Aaron, who is now a Detective in Melbourne, to do some unofficial investigating. He is hesitant and definitely not welcomed back by the townspeople. Only Luke’s old girlfriend Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly), is open to seeing him again. There is a reason for this. But he goes against the threats thrown at him by them and teams up with the young local policeman Sergeant O’Connell (Nick Farnell), and comes up with some unexpected twists and turns around each corner.

While the murder/suicide is the forefront story, we are actually dealing with two mysteries here, the one that is recent, and another that occurred twenty years previously. The film, told with flashbacks back to Aaron as a teenager (Joe Klocek). While teenage Luke (Sam Corlett) and teenage Gretchen (Claude Scott-Mitchell), were a couple, Luke was actually first attached with the beautiful Ellie Deacon (BeBe Bettencourt). The group swam in the river and drank together in the back woods outside of town. Aaron and Ellie’s romance begins to flourish as Luke’s jealousy grows, and through a note given to her at school, he invites her on a river date. She never shows, and is later found drowned. For reasons you will have to watch to suss out, Luke and Aaron concocted a story that they told of being together ‘out shooting rabbits’ – which was never really believed by anyone. In the present, Aaron confronts the deep-seated distrust from the entire town who believes he is responsible for Ellie’s death, as the killings reveal multiple sinister motives behind what could’ve really happened to her.

This film really captures the atmosphere of a small Australian country town and a really good Australian ensemble cast hold together the intriguing storyline. Bana underplays his character to let the story do the talking and just when you decide it’s right in-your-face-obvious who the obsessive killer is, and there is enough information to wrap things up 100% of what links two crimes, they throw in some extra ingredients to throw you off the scent. Again, Eric Bana is fantastic in the lead role and Genevieve O’Reilly excellent, but the younger Ellie played by Bettencourt, and younger Aaron, played by Klocek, do steal some of the show as well. There is a moment where Bettencourt sings acoustically, a haunting version “Under the Milky Way”, by the campfire, that even a week after seeing the film, I find myself still singing because it was so profound. With the characters all so complex and grey with hidden motives galore, psychological dysfunction and layering to mask them all, along with the stories behind them and the town, it creates a wonderful tight and gripping drama. The filming is beautiful but it’s not the environment that is predatory per se’, rather is the characters that move and circle one another that creates the tension and unease. 

The absolute only thing missing is a complete definitive ending, as we do have and odd moment of a blunder that seems a little suspect, but beyond that, the slow-burn and build up for the first 45 or so minutes, leads us into the last 45 minutes of all thrills and suspense.

It really makes you realize, all secrets eventually come to the surface.

‘B’

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ IFC Films

“THE DRY” IS OUT IN THEATERS AND ON DEMAND FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2021

PEGGY AT THE MOVIES – TV SHOWS TO CHECK OUT.. OR NOT – WEEK 5

And onto week #5 of quarantine TV watches rated by me.

First up:


We’re Here: HBO
Found this gem almost by accident and immediately fell head over heels for it. It’s real life about 3 drag queens who traverse small town America where they have residents from each town participate in a one night only drag show. It’s the storytelling behind each person and town that had me in tears at the end of both episodes that have aired. It’s a much needed watch for the close minded among us.
Grade: A


Tommy: CBS Network
TV diversity is so much bigger than film. But every once is a while comes a show that just doesn’t work as well & the characters feel forced..even with a stellar cast including #EdieFalco & #RussellGJones the storylines just fall flat.
Grade: C


Hollywood: NETFLIX
#RyanMurphy has a signature look to his shows and this one is no different. Set in late 1940’s its beautifully shot but it took me till eps 3 to figure out the difference #DavidCorenswet & #JakePicking – the middle eps. are great, but the finale is predictable & bland. Kudos #PattiLuPone #HollandTaylor & #DylanMcDermott for keeping it interesting.
Grade: C+ bordering B-


Atlanta’s Missing & Murdered: The Lost Children: HBO
A startlingly look at what happened to these children & the conviction of #WayneWilliams definitely deserves a watch as Atlanta’s new mayor #KeishaLanceBottoms takes the bold and might I add, right step in re-opening this investigation. It’s eye-opening & heart wrenching-and worth every minute of your time.
Grade: A

That’s a wrap on Peggy at the Movies TV recommendations week 5. Till next week..stay safe and sane.

#tvreviews #womencritic #instareviews #quarantineTV #coronaviruswatching #peggyatthemovies #Atlanta #Tommy #WereHere #Hollywood

REVIEW: “JOKER” (2019) Warner Bros.

Is the “Joker” really an achievement in cinematic history or just a deeply dark look into an anarchist, his falling apart life and a city on edge. One thing is sure here, no matter if you loved it or didn’t, it’s a thought-provoking, disturbing two hour long journey, that will haunt you for a time after.

The film offers a dark look of 1970s Gotham City; a dark, gritty atmosphere where there is no joy nor happiness in this world. In many of it’s opening moments, the movie reflects instant “Taxi Driver” and “King of Comedy” vibes – and while not a direct copy – let’s just say JOKER borrows elements ‘liberally’ from both films.   All the political tensions in the city are definitely borrowed from “Taxi Driver” and all the bits with the stand-up comedy from “The King of Comedy”.  Robert De Niro’s character Murray Franklin, is almost an off-shoot of Rupert Pupkin, his character in the Scorsese film.

‘Joker’ morphs itself into a deep character study of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man with some psychological and health issues who simply wants to bring laughter to this world by performing as a clown in child’s hospitals and performing as a stand-up comedian. But his mental health and this broken, sad, depressive society of ‘Gotham’ that he lives in don’t allow for that.  He feels they do not let him be the way he is and wants to be, and all the people around him see him as too weird/different and simply want to put him down whether it be in the streets, in his workplace, at his mother’s house etc. to the point where he simply finds a breaking point and loses more of his mind every day that goes by.

This by and by leads him to kill people, and then become a symbol of terror and chaos towards the end. At every moment something seemingly bad happens to Arthur Fleck.  The camerawork is often claustrophobically tight on Phoenix, right from the beginning of twisting and turning and hard to forget collection of haunting laughs.  Phoenix appears in virtually every scene of Joker all of which adds to the film never making you feel as though you were never anywhere, but in Arthur’s tortured head space. Honestly, it’s to a point where you start to wonder how many times is the camera going to pan over Phoenix’s clearly now skeletal frame, noting the 53 lb weight loss for us over and over again.  Same can be said for how many times can one person can be beat to a pulp, and still get up and walk away. Hit by a car..no problem, just get up and run off. Get beaten one day – not even see a doctor – have the same thing happen to you the next day, and viola’ – still fine.  And yes, a whole lot of things happen to him throughout the film – but he gives back as good as he gets. Over and over again, we see him lash out at those who have angered him in even the slightest of manners, though they might have just met.  And that’s where it does get a bit alarming.  The violence is palpable here. Why, say you is this worse than what we see just on regular TV or any other action film?  It’s a plausible question that each person would have to answer for themselves.  The character of the ‘Joker’ seems to scares us just to the point that we don’t see the human in him any more – we only see the killer.

The movie itself, does not praise violence and it’s far from being about making the ‘Joker’ a “hero” or him starting a movement, but it’s not all about a man trying to find himself either. Clearly the story line wants us to feel something for this character and what he has been put through, but it’s hard to find or feel that second where you do. The ‘Joker’ wants you to just feel sad for him, to mourn with him since he never seemed to have any intentions of harming people at first, or did he?  We, the audience understands exactly the things he does throughout the film, and he does them for himself. Because he feels wronged.  Wronged by his mother Penny Fleck (Francis Conroy), whom he lives with and spends her days writing letters to Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), who we find out, is seriously delusional herself all the while wrapping Arthur/Joker up in her fabrications as well. Again, it’s Arthur delusions that make you believe that neighbor Sophie Dumond (Zazi Beetz) is a lover/friend, when nothing could be further from the truth.  Although the character of Zazie isn’t exactly given a much to work with, her end reveal tells a lot.

As solid as Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy are in their small roles here, this is Phoenix’s film and he delivers a worthwhile performance even though some of it felt forced, he will almost surely earn himself a nomination at the least. It’s a take on the Joker that differs from Heath Ledger’s, with the main difference might be that Ledger’s joker is a rational that acts insane, while Phoenix’s is insane to the root. Which begs the question again of Phoenix on how much is he playing here. Remember years ago his so-called ‘experiment’ with Casey Affleck in “I’m Still Here” where he was supposedly leaving acting to become a rapper, but it was startlingly real. Some might say a perfect calling for this role.

While first and foremost this is a tale of a man pushed to the edge of his already teetering limits, Joker also manages to throw in a number of surprising narrative and comic book throw backs, some surprise twists (one word: Wayne) that even connects it with the Batman comics that will no doubt be discussed ad-nauseam by die-hard fans.

At the end of the day, whether you end up loving or hating Joker, Todd Phillip’s gritty take on the legendary DC comics villain, there’s no denying that the cinematic comic book adaptations landscape has been changed forever.

Grade: B

@pegsatthemovies

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies and Instagram: peggyatthemovies

 

Media Screening: Tuesday, October 1, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.

‘JOKER’ IS OUT IN THEATERS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019

REVIEW: “THE SNOWMAN” (2017) Universal Pictures

“THE SNOWMAN” follows Norwegian detective, Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender). Harry has been struggling with drinking and is no longer given any cases when he reluctantly returns to the police force after receiving a note warning him that more women will end up dead. This all is stemming from an old serial killer case that still haunts him. Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) is transferred from Bergen, has her own personal reasons for getting involved in the case, and Hole ends up helping her with the investigation into the sadistic serial killer.

It seems the women the killer targets kinda have a link that they all have children. Or so it first seems, but it is actually that they have children who they won’t tell or don’t know who the father is. Which all seems a little bit strange at times, but I guess links a little bit to a plot if you really think about it. You get bored with thinking about it though, as things just get messier and crazier. With so many different things going on in an attempt to confuse the viewer and make them unsure of well what is actually going on altogether to be honest. I guess that is just one of the many problems with the film as it just has to many to really count or try to filter through. Though the fact that everyone is speaking English in Norway without even a nod to note that this is a film totally and completely based and filmed in Norway, is blinding. Remember how they did this with the Americanized version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – and while that was no winner of a film, it would win an Oscar up against this mess of a film.

I’m not sure what else there is to say on this review except to try to find out whom is responsible for this terribly done film version of one of the creepiest books I ever read. Is it Fassbender, whom for the most part I’m such a fan of but is dead of anything bearing performance here. Is it Rebecca Ferguson whom we had such high hope for after her fantastic performance in the Mission Impossible franchise, but here is just lacking any luster in her performance. Surely not J.K. Simmons as gazillionaire businessman Arve Stop, who seems to be doing some sort of attempt at a Scandinavian lilt-meets-evil-industrialist voice thing, or a lost-looking Val Kilmer wandering through a subplot as Rafto, Katrina’s father and ex-policeman who was murdered by the killer, as they are in it for two blink-and-you-missed-it scenes – though I will point out both are featured in a much larger way in the book. Or Chloe Sevigny as identical twins or Charlotte Gainsbourg as Harry’s ex-girlfriend Rakel who also has one of the most bizarrely bland love scenes ever filmed with Fassbender. Or is it simply the overly annoying roughly 600 shots of a snowman.

Again, I read the book some years back, and still with that, I could not figure out for the life of me what was happening in this film. No two scenes really connected with each other and I guess the topper would be my guest.. who at one point I heard a small snore come from. Yep, that about sums it up. I would truly give this film an F but for the fact it has some of the most beautiful scenery and roads filming I’ve seen in some time. Made me want to leave the theater immediately and go book a ticket to Norway.

What I do know is that Martin Scorsese’s name is on the film and so is director Tomas Alfredson and they both know better.

Grade: D
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
“THE SNOWMAN” is now playing in theaters nationwide.

DAY 4: COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST ACTRESS”

It’s the 4th day of the Countdown and we are at none other than Best Actress..

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Isabelle Huppert, ElleMY PICK
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance as bold as this one. Huppert simply blew me away in one of the probably the oddest roles I think I’ve ever seen portrayed. I’ve never seen anything like it and probably never will again. Sadly, she won’t win for this piece of brillance.

Ruth Negga, Loving
While she was fairly one-note, but engaging enough here, I really only started to like this performance so much once she started speaking and really putting forth as the first 30+ min she just really never said anything. I just can’t put forth an award pick for that.

Natalie Portman, Jackie
While I think I enjoyed this film more than some did as it just got to me a little emotionally than I thought it would, she did go ‘caricature’ at times with it. While she was a front-runner for some time, I don’t think she even comes close to Huppert.

Emma Stone, La La LandWINNER
Yeah – I like Emma but this is really just another cutsey performance to me. Let’s face it, her singing/dancing parts aren’t all that good, but the ‘auditions’ parts were really good. That’s really all there is to it.

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Am I’m surprised Meryl Streep even got a nomination, no even though it’s almost annoying at this point, because even though the whole movie was a huge let-down, we all really do love her. And yes, I think she solidified her nomination when she gave that speech at the Golden Globes which was quite epic, but this award isn’t about best speeches.

@pegsatthemovies
Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

DAY 1 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Well, Well, Well.. here we are!! At that time of year once again where I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories. And though I’ve seen all the films presented this year, I will only be doing the top 6 categories due to a bit of a late start with the long holiday weekend we had and being deluged with rain. First up ~ Best Supporting Actress. I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick. You might agree or even better, you might disagree 🙂
So with that..I give you Day 1 of #peggyatthemovies Oscar picks. Cheers!

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Viola Davis, FencesWINNER
Let’s be honest here, she shouldn’t even be in this category, she should be in BEST ACTRESS.. So even though my pick is someone else, she is highly deserving of an award..just in a different category.

Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Liked her performance – just didn’t love it. Definitely worthy of a nom tho.

Nicole Kidman, Lion
Same here with Nicole, liked it – just didn’t love it and wasn’t all that different from everything else I’ve seen her do

Octavia Spencer, Hidden FiguresMY PICK
Now I called this when I saw the film back in November. The whole movie is wonderful with all really good performances and Octavia being the highlight of the three, she takes it here for me. She has been and is my only and clear choice from moment one.

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Really, a blink of eye – seven minutes total on screen. And while the last scene with her and Affleck is the scene of the film.. still.

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this blog a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

REVIEW: “HITMAN: AGENT 47” (2015) 20th Century Fox

47

The stunning Rupert Friend explodes onto the screen here as “Agent 47” – one of a numbered group of genetically DNA engineered ‘Hitman’ from the popular video game giving a second try at a film franchise here. Hannah Ware plays Katia van Dees, the daughter of a missing scientist Dr. Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds) who back in the 1960’s was responsible for creating a super-soldier program that brought Agent 47, and at least 46 other deadly assassins into the world. Syndicate International, one of those typical diabolical organizations that always seem to exist, run by Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) wants Katia’s father as they think he holds the secrets to making more. Agent 47’s employers want her dead.
47 3
Zachary Quinto’s aptly named character John Smith – who’s name pun you will understand when watching.. seems not to really fit his part in the beginning..after a few decent plot twists in his favour he turns it around and pulls his character off. He after all is also an ‘agent’ in a sense with a pretty neat change up of DNA in him.

Along with a bland storyline and too many plot holes to count or even care about, the films plus side is in if there is one demographic that it would try to please, it’s obvious that aim is for 15-20 yr olds video-gamers who live for hours stepping into this world of CGI-done assassins killing off his enemies while wreaking maximum havoc in the process. And oh..the blood looks good. I’m serious it really does. 47 1
Friend as Agent 47, is a killing machine fighting other killing machines with whom I’d thought that we’d seen every imaginable killing stunt – but this film truly does become imaginative in that area and comes up with some doozies I’d think the likes of us haven’t even dreamed up.
47 2
In the end, we do have a few surprise twists but there is no spark of life is to be found in a few of the characters most disappointingly in Ware, whose Katia is meant to be the supposed emotional linchpin of the enterprise. We’ve seen Friend do the cold and calculating before as Peter Quinn on Homeland where he actually scares us at times. The same goes here, American accent included. They have a few moments of mild playfulness mostly that Friend tries half heartedly to inject in their partnership without much success.
47 4
And of course what would the ending be if not to give us a little after name credits roll – scene of what is to come. And for the third time in a month, I’m seeing in that teaser scene what will probably be a better sequel than original.

End note: Paul Walker was scheduled to play Agent 47 and due to his untimely and tragic passing, Rupert Friend stepped in. RIP Paul

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 – Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Nationwide release: Friday, August 21st, 2015

Review: “THE LOFT” (2015) Universal

The Loft

Is it bad that I just went to see this movie for the men in the cast?? I mean, Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Mardsen, and to an extent, Eric Stonestreet. I was truly all in for purely the eye-candy factor. Sadly, yes, I know how shallow that sounds, and I don’t care. I meet guys all the time who tell me they are seeing a film just to see Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johansson etc. naked or whatever. So this was my freebie and I’m good with admitting that. 🙂

But sadly the movie, which thinks itself a “thriller” is not. It’s basically about five close friends, “Vincent Stevens” (Karl Urban) an architect, “Chris Vanowen” (James Marsden) a psychiatrist, “Luke Seacord” (Wentworth Miller), “Philip Trauner” (Matthias Schoenaerts) Chris’s half-brother and all around drunk/drugged out mess, the last bachelor-soon-to-be married guy of the bunch, and lastly “Marty Landry” (Eric Stonestreet) trying his hand at the dramatic, though so veritably miscast here it’s painful as all he can seem to talk about throughout the film is cheating, huge breasts or wanting to screw everything that walks by even though they are always well out of his league. It’s basically a film of married guys who want to cheat on their wives with other women they deem ‘prettier’…probably the same guys I have met a thousand times or like the ones mentioned above. These guys range from the despicable, to the disturbed, to just plain sleazy. the loft 1

The five take it a step further on the advice of Vincent, to secretly share a penthouse loft in Downtown Los Angeles as a place where they can carry out their affairs and indulge themselves with drink, drugs & women all without having any credit card receipts or motel bills to get caught with. But this whole fantasy soon becomes a nightmare as it comes to a screeching halt when they discover the dead body of a woman in the loft, who is seemly unknown to some of them at least, along with some ominous words written in Latin. It’s then they realize one of the group must be involved since there are only five keys and the men begin to suspect each other of murder.

Yet somebody may be in on their dirty little secret. Or perhaps one of them has something to hide. Either way, it was hard to feel much more than boredom – and slight disgust – for any of it. the loft 4
It really is a shame to see such talented, good looking actors doing such a mind numbing and dull feature. It’s even worse for the women playing their wives. Rhona Mitra “Allison Vanownen”, who does nothing other than walk around with the air of “I’m better than all of you” attitude with her ‘bitchy resting face’, Valerie Cruz “Barbara Stevens” seems to know her husband is a sleaze but only enough to give him bad accusing looks, Kali Rocha “Mimi Landry”, who’s tiresome quips back n forth as she calls her husband Marty, ‘Tubs’ isn’t funny, Elaine Cassidy “Ellie Seacord” the diabetic wife who seems in a constant panic as if we are to feel sorry for her for this, and lastly Margarita Levieva “Vicki Fry-Trauner” Phillip’s new wife whose daddy “Hiriam Fry” (Graham Beckel) owns everything & everyone yet SURPRISE cheats constantly also..in this case, like father like son-in-law. The only actress able to offer a little heart is Rachael Taylor “Anne Morris” who plays what else in this ‘let’s treat women like trash’ film, but a prostitute. Even if her delivery of the dialogue is miserably bad. Of course it’s a thankless role requiring her to have an very unconvincing romance with James Marsden. Isabel Lucas “Sarah Deakins” is one of Vincent’s conquests, and gives one of the film’s poorest performances as she is unable to bring this character to life in any way, shape or form. This is a huge problem as much of the film revolves around her. the loft 2

While most of the cast here is capable of doing so much more, I’m especially talking to Schoenaerts here who’ve I’ve put a pin in since seeing his fantastic performance in The Drop, and I truly hope this isn’t what he’s destined for. Although when it comes to some pivotal scenes, it is impossible to take any of them seriously thanks to a few silly plot points.
One scene where it becomes clear that the wives may actually be aware of their cheating husbands is about as subtle as a sledgehammer hitting a brick wall. While the mystery unfolds to reveal what really happened, leaving the final scene a bit of a surprise, the fact that it’s impossible to care at all makes it a mute point.

THE LOFT is devoid of any real suspense or smarts. It has some plot twists and turns and I think they are meant to be suspenseful, but they are not. The characters defy any real logic as well, they are just all awful people so waiting to see what happens to them is just painful at times. And let’s be clear, you can certainly create morally bankrupt characters in a film that are fascinating, it gets done all the time, but that is simply not the case here. Sometimes I can sit through a movie like this at maybe at home home and get some enjoyment out of it, and I think that would be the perfect way to see this film actually as paying for it hurts. It wastes a decent cast and forces audiences to spend time with hateful people that spout bad dialogue. _MG_3082.CR2

From what I understand, this movie is a re-make of a Belgium mystery film of the same name from 2008 with one original cast member being Matthias Schoenaerts. I don’t know if it’s any better, but truthfully, it can’t be much worse.

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

(See grading scale)

“BLACKHAT” (2015) UNIVERSAL PICTURES

blackhat

Ahhh Michael Mann.. First off, I am a fan..have been for ages, so many good movies & fashion statements in your TV & film work ~ and “Blackhat” is not the massive fiasco that it could be but it’s hard to know where to begin analyzing it. First off there’s the screenplay by Morgan Davis Foehl, which alternates between dull, rushed and an utter disregard for reasonable logic at times.

But let’s not rush ahead of ourselves here with all that. Chris Hemsworth stars as “Nicholas Hathaway”, the world’s greatest computer hacker who also happens to look a lot like Thor (thankfully). Currently serving 15 years for cyber-crimes, he gets furloughed from jail at the behest of his old MIT roommate “Lien Chen” (Leehom Wang) who is now a big-time higher-up in the Chinese military. Chen is working with FBI agent “Carol Barrett” (Viola Davis) to track down a hacker who put the whammy on both an Asian nuclear reactor and the American commodities exchange using malware code created by Hathaway & Chen in their college days. blackhat 1

The pursuit of the villain takes our team — which includes Chen’s sister “Lien” (Wei Tang), who falls in love with Hathaway in one of the most random, chemistry-free onscreen romances in recent memory — to Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, but in all this globe-trotting studio money can buy, it’s no substitute for things little things like oh..character development, suspense and motivation. Hathaway’s character concept is lacking, and he’s one of the film’s better-written roles, and it seems only Davis can make filet mignon out of the ground beef of this material, turning vague and clunky dialogue into gold with just one or two quick quips and a sardonic glance over her sunglasses.
blackhat 3

The screenplay, mocks us at times, with the fact that we are not supposed to take notice the bad guys’ inability to hit with directly aimed bullets, key characters – aka “The Good Guys” -despite constant flutters of automatic weapons fire, or the fact that an FBI agent asks another a personal question based on a phone call to which he was not privy to, or one of my favourite aspects, the fact that blond, six-and-a-half-foot Hemsworth is supposed to blend in with the crowds in Asia like he’s not head & shoulders above them all..literally..and attracting no second glances whatsoever as he’s on the run in airports or sneaking into computer facilities or engaging in gun battles in the middle of crowded street festivals. Lastly, that a computer hack with huge mayhem & destruction imminently pending, within a matter of hours to be precise, but curiously so, the lead characters have time to fall completely in love and plan a future relationship and as cyber-hackers they just pick up guns that they immediately know how to use truly made me shake my head as in ‘okey dokey then’. blackhat 2

But to best describe what truly underscores the problems with some of the filming, which oddly enough looks at it’s worst whenever there’s some type of light source on screen, whether it be a lamp or a car headlight or just the sun; so where does the big finale happen? Well…amongst hundreds of people carrying torches, but of course (insert facetious sarcasm here). Because not only is it weird and completely off base, but that these guys are carrying huge automatic weapons and no one out of all these thousands of people notice it. NONE! Come on now.
kinopoisk.ru

Given Sony’s recent ‘issues’ with hacking, the timing couldn’t be better for a movie about the vulnerability of international computer networks, but “Blackhat” isn’t that movie..though I’m not going to say it couldn’t be plausible, because despite what you might think, the actors are believable enough as their characters, it’s what the plot makes them do at times that isn’t. I’m thinking that pretty much no matter how you slice it, this is one hack-ity hacker pic that just hasn’t really cracked it’s own code of how to make a movie about computer espionage that doesn’t come down to scene after scene of people sitting at keyboards and making clicky-clack noises with their fingers. To his credit, Michael Mann does try to jazz things up with cool tracking shots through microchips (it’s like the express lane to Tron’s house) or even putting the camera inside a thumb-drive slot or under a keyboard that’s being typed upon, and though it has it’s entertaining moments for sure, in the end it’s to little avail in saving the film from some of the other things that make it a no go.

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

(See grading scale)