REVIEW: “ALLIED” (2016) Paramount Pictures

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With Brad Pitt’s big return to the screen since his personal life news overtook his career for a bit there, we have him here in “ALLIED” as Max Vatan, a 1940’s wartime intelligence office who finds himself in a predicament with his fellow French Resistance (or is she?) spy and soon-to-be wife, Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). A predicament I might add that can be figured out in the first 15 minutes of the film as Marianne makes a quote that let’s you know really where the film will end up going if you’re paying attention. And it’s exactly where it goes.

With uneven pacing and script, the film benefits from beautiful cinematography. The weakness in the lack of ability to successfully leave a lasting emotional impact on the audience, is in the writing and executive producership of it all. As we see Max and Marianne do a 30-sec assasination-shoot em’ up scene reminiscent of ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’, and they fall in ‘love’ in about half that time, makes it all a bit unbelievable and undercuts the storyline.
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For films that are not as much about the spectacle as they are the drama between characters and the challenge faced therein, it is important for personal/interpersonal relationships go beyond the screen to directly impact the audience. All the makings were here for a deeply moving cinematic story, but it just doesn’t quite make that transition from the mostly superficial and distant. The ending, which tried to be sentimental is done completely in an overly-compensated, dramatic fashion that comes off very falsly.

Supporting work comes via Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, August Diehl, Marion Bailey, Simon McBurney, and Matthew Goode. With no stand-out performances, and my screening being on a 50/50 basis of who liked it and who didn’t, I think it will do a couple of good weeks and the box office, but the competition along with a slate of excellent films coming out, might drag this one down after that.

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Thursday, November 17, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
NOW PLAYING IN THEATRES NATIONWIDE

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REVIEW: “SELF/LESS” (2015) FOCUS FEATURES

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“SELF/LESS” is billed as psychological science fiction thriller with Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley as “Damian” as an extremely wealthy man dying from cancer who finds out about a radical underground medical procedure called “shedding” that can transfer his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man in Ryan Reynolds the younger version of Damian. As with anyone given back a younger self, Younger Damien then proceeds to take full advantage of that situation but with all the knowledge of his older self, to mix it up New Orleans party style. As long as he takes his ‘special’ pills that is. self less 1

But as you figure out within the first 15 minutes of the film, all is not as it seems as Reynolds “Younger Damian” starts experiencing flashes of a woman “Madeline” (Natalie Martinez) and a child “Anna” (Jayne-Lynn Kinchen), which leads to him going on an action-fueled rampage to figure out the mystery of who they are and what they lead to – aka the body’s origin – and the underground organization lead by a “Professor Albright” (Matthew Goode) that will kill anyone who tries to find out its secrets.
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This film’s only surprise for me was that I thought I was going into a sci-fi type film (the premise seemed quite interesting from the trailers) – was actually a sluggish, very predictable, ‘point/less’ (pun intended) action film. And while I might question why we are led to believe that Ben Kingsley is one of the main attractions of the film, as he’s only there for a very short period in the first act, I will say I did absolutely love the use of Louisiana flare and colour that they squeeze in at every possible moment from jazz bands to Mardi Gras and yes, even chicory coffee!
Beyond that we are left with Michelle Dockery “Claire” (trying her hardest to give a good American accent) as older Damian’s daughter with whom he feels that if given another chance by doing this shedding experiment, he can repair his relationship with her. Add in a supporting cast of older Damien’s best friend “Martin” (Victor Garber) & his wife “Judy” (Melora Hardin) with a few secrets of their own that the younger version will discover and a interchangeable henchmen “Anton 1” (Derek Luke) and “Anton 2” (Brendan McCarthy) and you’ve wrapped up your film in a handshake.

Ben Kingsley as Damian in ``Self/less.''

Ben Kingsley as Damian in “Self/less.”

While I was told there has been comparisons with a 1966 John Frankenheimer film called “Seconds” which I’ve not seen, I can only say that SELF/LESS might have tried hard to be this but took a sharp left turn in the wrong direction as it’s more interested in sending Damian on the run with an upset wife and child in tow as he tries to keep them in the dark over what’s really happening..and you can imagine how realistic that all is. (clue: it’s not)
Essentially the story is your basic standard fugitive plotline with any inter-personal connections aspect of it being severely underwritten.

Rating: D
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 at The Grove-Pacific Theatres courtesy of Focus Features & LAFTV
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Friday, July 10th, 2015

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.

Golden Globes: Part 2 ~ My 2014 TV picks for the winners

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I did my film picks yesterday, so these are my TV picks and they are just that..MY PICKS! 😀 This is my favourite award show as it’s both Film & TV..I mean how can you go wrong with the best of both genres drinking it up at one awards show with Tina Fey & Amy Pohler hosting. Well the answer is you can’t. You might agree or even better, you might disagree ~ it’s all good. I’m afraid I’ve missed some of the net-only shows as I truly hate watching things on a laptop when I have a comfy couch & nice TV to watch on..ahhh well.. Still..I will warn you, I did pretty well last year with my picks and this year I think I’m going to do even better. So with that..I give you #peggyatthemovies 2014 Golden Globe TV picks! Cheers!

BEST DRAMA SERIES:
“The Affair”
Liked this show a lot. It’s a completely unique drama that shows 2 sides of the coin so to speak. But it also had some slower moving episodes in the beginning that I think made it harder for some to stick with it.

“Downton Abbey”
Well I mean..it’s Downton.. Even though some say it’s lost some of it’s initial charm, I tend to disagree. The 4th season might have been it’s slowest, but they set it up well for Season 5. And can we say Matthew Goode all together now. 😀

“Game of Thrones”WINNER
Ohhhhh Game of Thrones.. how you broke me with this last season. You killed off probably one of the most hated characters ever King Joffrey, and everyone cheered. Except you got one of our favs. Tyrion arrested for his murder and making his brother, Jaime Lannister, a good guy after all. And then dammit in one of the best scenes EVER, you killed Prince Oberyn. All the while Jon Snow & the Night’s Watch are doing there thing. You blew me away. Thank you!

“The Good Wife”
Will Gardner. oh Will Gardner, we miss you. But somehow the pain is lessened a tad bit by Finn Polmar (pssst Matthew Goode AGAIN). This plus fantastic performances by a stellar cast each and every week along with spectacular writing, make this show my 2nd pick.. I won’t be upset if it wins..nope..not at all.

“House of Cards”
I hear nothing but good things about this show. I’m seriously considering getting a Google Chrome stick or Amazon Fire just to be able to watch a show like this on my TV.

BEST COMEDY SERIES: – hard to judge category for me as I’ve not seen many of the shows so not picking a winner here.

“Girls”
Just never grabbed onto this show. Tried it a few times with different seasons, just never liked it all that much.

“Jane the Virgin”
This is the surprise fun show of the season. It’s a breath of fresh air. Cute, fun, appealing and wouldn’t it be fantastic to see the CW win an award as they’ve really come up from being the joke network in the past few years.

“Orange is the New Black”
I’ve only seen one episode.. it was fun, but makes it hard to judge here.

“Silicon Valley”
Haven’t seen it.

“Transparent”
Haven’t seen it.

BEST MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE:
“Fargo”
This series was good, but it was also a complete trip at times. Sometimes I loved it and sometimes I didn’t.

“The Missing”
This was a STARZ series. A channel I’ve never had. *sigh*

“The Normal Heart”
This was an emotional story for sure with top name talent in it. I can’t say I completely loved it though, but I definitely loved parts of it.

“Olive Kitteridge”
Haven’t been able to catch this yet as I get HBO once every few months to do just that. I will soon though.

“True Detective”WINNER
I just don’t think there was a question here of what show wins. This was such a dynamic and different story with characters like we’ve not really seen before. I loved it.

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA):
Claire Danes – “Homeland
After a slow Season 3, Homeland got off to a bit of a rough start in the first 2 eps. of Season 4. Then it went blew the roof off and went WILD!! And this was in due part to Claire Danes bringing it back ‘home’ so to speak

Viola Davis – “How to Get Away With Murder”
I adore Viola. This show, not so much. After giving it 3 1/2 eps. I just didn’t find it interesting enough to keep watching. I found some of the characters really like-able. Sadly not Viola’s.

Julianna Margulies – “The Good Wife”WINNER
When does Julianna not bring it home on this show. She is fantastic week in week out. Yes, she’s won before..but deservedly so. Give it to her again.. please.

Ruth Wilson – “The Affair”
Loved Ruth in ‘Luther’ and liked her well enough here. Just not enough for a win.

Robin Wright – “House of Cards”
Once again, I haven’t seen this show though I hear she is fantastic in it.

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA):
Clive Owen – “The Knick”
I don’t have Cinemax so I never got to see this show. Clive is a pretty fantastic actor though and I’ve heard he brings it here.

Kevin Spacey – “House of Cards
Big fan of Kevin Spacey – haven’t seen the show.

James Spader – “The Blacklist” WINNER
I’ve adored James Spader for more years than I care to count. As I always say, you’re only as good as your villain and Spader brings it to these types of roles each and every time. ‘Red’ is not a good guy, but you can’t help but want him to come out ahead and that’s thanks to Spader’s performance.

Liev Schreiber – “Ray Donovan”
There were times during the 1st season of this show where I couldn’t decide if I loved it and it was the most brilliant new show or if I hated it and it was the worst new show. Season 2 made the decision for me as they kicked ass. Liev was amazing and I won’t be upset if he wins.

Dominic West – “The Affair”
Dominic West should’ve won for ‘The Wire’ years ago. He’s good here and still sexy as ever, but not my winner.

BEST ACTRESS (COMEDY):
Lena Dunham – “Girls”
I can’t say I like the show nor her character in it which is basically her. Sorry Lena.

Edie Falco – “Nurse Jackie”
Oh how I love Jackie..She’s been a mess, cleaned herself up, well kinda sorta, and all the while is the best nurse we all want if we’re ever in hospital. It’s also the last season so if she wins I won’t be mad.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
I think Julia is one of the funniest people, but I just never took to much to this role or show. I like it..don’t love it.

Gina Rodriguez – “Jane the Virgin”WINNER
Because I love an underdog and Gina is so damn charming as Jane. This show is so fresh & new and wouldn’t it be nice to have someone new, different and exciting win an award like this on their first time out. Yes. it would be is the answer.

Taylor Schilling – “Orange is the New Black”
Wish I saw more of this show.

BEST ACTOR (COMEDY):
So I’m a fan of all of these actors. But I just haven’t watched enough of any of these shows to make a fair judgement – so I’m not going to. May the best man win.

Don Cheadle – “House of Lies”
Louis C.K – “Louie”
Ricky Gervais – “Derek”
William H. Macy – “Shameless”
Jeffrey Tambor – “Transparent”

BEST ACTRESS (MINI-SERIES OR TV MOVIE):
Maggie Gyllenhaal – “The Honorable Woman”
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get into this show.

Jessica Lange – “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
I remember S1 of this show..so good. Since then, well let’s just say it jumped the shark in Season 2 and never came back. Sorry Jessica..love you, but just can’t call it winner here.

Frances McDormand – “Olive Kitteridge”
Haven’t seen this yet.

Frances O’Connor – “The Missing”
Haven’t seen it.

Allison Tolman – “Fargo”WINNER
Allison was just fantastic in this show. Never had seen her before and within 2 eps I wanted to see more. And I can only hope she gets many more roles like this one.

BEST ACTOR (MINI-SERIES OR TV MOVIE):
Martin Freeman – “Fargo”
I’ve adored Martin Freeman since he played ‘Tim’ in the original version of “The Office”. Since then he’s been in so much and I’ve pretty much loved it all. And he was so good in this show. But there can be only one winner.

Woody Harrelson – “True Detective”
It’s a really really hard choice to pick between Det. Marty Hart and his partner because without one or the other, this show wouldn’t have been so completely amazing.

Matthew McConaughey – “True Detective” WINNER
Rust Cohle – just saying that should be enough to explain why I pick him as the winner. Mind-boggling performance.

Mark Ruffalo – “The Normal Heart”
Not my fav. character at all. I’m not Ruffalo’s biggest fan and he just didn’t do it for me here.

Billy Bob Thornton – “Fargo”
Billy Bob was pretty creepy good as the villain..at times..But it wasn’t consistent enough for me.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Uzo Aduba – “Orange is the New Black”
Haven’t seen enough of it.

Kathy Bates – “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
I can’t here..just can’t. It made me sad to see Kathy play a head on a platter in the few eps. I saw last season before I just couldn’t watch anymore.

Joanne Froggatt – “Downton Abbey” WINNER
Joanne really sunk her teeth into her character this past season and her storyline was a tough one. Considering all this, she came off very convincing as it’s a different time/era and she pulled it off. I know it will be a surprise and long shot if she wins, but again the underdog in me picks her.

Allison Janney – “Mom”
I’ve tried with this show..but I just don’t find it all that funny. Though Allison looks great and is the best part about it, just not my pick.

Michelle Monaghan – “True Detective”
Such a great show, but when you have two leads such as Woody & Matthew doing magic with their roles, you’ve just really got to step it up.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Matt Bomer – “The Normal Heart”WINNER
For me, Matt Bomer brought it in a big way to this role. He proved that he’s just not a pretty face but can bring it when it comes to hard-core acting performances.

Alan Cumming – “The Good Wife”
Alan is wonderful in this role. It fits him like a glove and I wish I could pick him..so let’s just say I won’t be mad if he wins!

Colin Hanks – “Fargo”
Colin was uhmmm..okay in this role. Just didn’t tie it up for me.

Bill Murray – “Olive Kitteridge”
Didn’t see it, but I know Murray was good..how do I know that? because he’s Bill Murray. end of story.

Jon Voight – “Ray Donovan”
Yeah Jon Voight is pretty damn good here and yeah he will probably win…but I’m sticking with my underdog pick.

REVIEW: “THE IMITATION GAME” (2014)

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Note: “The Imitation Game” release date in the U.S. is November 28th, 2014 ~ this review contains no spoilers as the movie is based on historical fact already known.

Do you know who Alan Turing is? I’m going to guess not. After you watch this movie you will most likely be saddened by this fact as I know I was.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a master mathematician who finds himself plunged into the secret code-breaking underbelly world of Bletchley Circle in World War II when he’s hired by the British government – along with a team of code breakers – to crack Nazi Germany’s supposedly impenetrable Enigma code and end the war. He makes no friends in his inner circle all throughout his life, but not due to the fact that he doesn’t want them, he is one of those people who are of such true genius they never really learned how to be socially adept. the ig 1

Turing wrestles with a multitude of impediments – shyness, homosexuality (which at the time was illegal) and the overriding pressure of heading up such a mammoth venture would be daunting for anyone trying to stay true to his heart and his extraordinary skill along the way. Not only was Turing unconventional, but his methods were as well. His deterrents included Naval High “Commander Denniston” (Charles Dance) who tries to shut him down more than once, and in the beginning, most of his team, the somewhat caddish “Hugh Alexander”(Matthew Goode), Keira Knightley as “Joan Clarke”, who becomes Turing’s main confidant and for a moment in time, his fiance, the spy amongst them, “John Cairncross” (Allen Leech) and “Peter Hilton” (Matthew Beard) who’s heartbreaking moment occurs when he realizes even though they have broken the code, they most likely can’t save his brother serving on a naval ship due to the nature of the beast that is war and the secret games that must still be played to ensure the safety of millions rather than just one. the ig 3 Mark Strong comes in as MI6 specialist “Stewart Menzies” another small but brilliant turn here as he is probably the only one that has Turing’s back during all this..well him and the man who lives at 10 Downing Street at the time, Winston Churchill that is. 😀 the ig 2 I would also be remiss in not mentioning Rory Kinnear as “Nock” the police detective who is really at the root of Turings out-ing so to speak as he, along with “Sergeant Staehl” (Tom Goodman-Hill) & “Supt. Smith” (Steven Waddington) are the ‘bobbies’ who dig into Turings past after a reported robbery at his home. Even though once Nock interrogates Turing and finds out his whole story, he is reluctant to move forward, the damage has already been done.

the ig 4 The story behind this film is just as harrowing as the one being solved. Here is a man who should have been touted as a worldwide hero in history books everywhere, who’s face should probably be on some type of pound currency, yet we’ve never heard of him as he was persecuted by his own nation for being homosexual and made to either undergo chemical castration or serve 2 years in prison because of this fact. Think of all the people in the city you live in ~ as it might not have existed if not for Alan Turing. Here is a man who saved 14 MILLION lives, yet killed himself due to the fact he was shunned by his own country instead of celebrated just because of who he was sexually. And yes, he was the inventor of what was for years referred to as the ‘Turing Machine’ yes ladies and gentlemen..what we now call ‘computers’. Finally in 2013 this was changed by Queen Elizabeth and rightfully so because it’s the true shame of a nation to deny this man his rightful place in it.
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This film is a tour de force for me, not only because of it’s place in history, but because of the man himself. I believe this powerful film will stay with me for some time to come and I can only hope it does the same for anyone who sees it. It even more elevated by strong performances across the board of not only Cumberbatch, who is definitely in the performance of his career so far, but his strong supporting cast as even Knightly, who usually dismal performances can break up the direction of a film, carries on well. Come Oscar time I’m betting on the fact we will see some nominations here of not only film, but performances as well.

Grade: A

#peggyatthemovies

(See grading scale)