REVIEW: “THE SNOWMAN” (2017) Universal Pictures

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

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REVIEW: “FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS” (2016) Paramount Pictures

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Set up beautifully in 1940’s New York and based on a true story, Florence Foster Jenkins tells the story of a truly awful singer (Meryl Streep), completely enveloped in her oddly closed world of a 1944 New York hotel. Pampered by her unsuccessful actor/husband St Clair Mayfield (Hugh Grant), a term we find out to use loosely as he is otherwise occupied in a completely different residence with his long-time girlfriend Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson).
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Together with ex-actor Mayfield, the wealthy Florence is the co-star of the show at her self-owned “Verdi Club” where she has a non-speaking role enacting various ‘tableau’ scenes. But in the interests of following her dreams, she recruits the help of famous singing instructor Carlo Edwards (David Haig) and an enthusiastic, personable young pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg). Carlo becomes aware of what he is in for once she actually starts to “sing”, which is more like a cackling hen than an actual singing voice and starts to see how she has been deceived her entire life by the people who surround her, into thinking she is something she is not.

This film got on my nerves fairly early in the game and gradually got worse as it went along. Meryl Streep seems to just be coasting and going through the motions in her career right now, this being no exception to the rule. And while Hugh Grant is often quite unfairly criticized for playing Hugh Grant in every movie, here he actually turns a somewhat decent performance as once again though, a cad. Simon Helberg’s character is the most funny, for a bit, and gradually the quirkyness you thought funny for the first 20 minutes, grinds on you.
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While the film is not without it’s charm at points, it fell a little short for me on storyline. The acting was adequate, but I felt like we never really got to know or understand why it had gotten to the point it did on her life. I wanted just a touch more backstory. All in all, I can only recommend it to a certain niche of viewers as I’m sure some will find this a somewhat likable film.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening ~ Wednesday, August 10, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In Nationwide Release as of Friday, August 12, 2016

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (2015) Paramount Pictures

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Yes.. yes.. yes.. The Missions are back on!! To say the continuing saga of Ethan Hunt carries on with a bang – would be putting it lightly.

A few things to note right off in this latest boot-up of the Mission Impossible franchise – 1. We are going rogue.. 2. Tom Cruise at 53 is the new 33 – I’m telling you – watching him doing these stunts is truly eye popping and 3. Rebecca Ferguson is a fantastic femme fatale bad ass – Hands down – no questions asked – she knocks it out of the park here.

I’m not going to go into full detail here as with all action films, as not only do you need to see it for yourself, but they don’t go for a big emotional point to the storyline..they go for the action and action you shall receive. In abundance.
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Rogue Nation opens on “Ethan Hunt” (Tom Cruise) hanging off the side of a plane, which has been notably played up as the holy-shite-Tom-Cruise-actually-did-that-himself stunt moment. And play up they should as once you hear the familiar theme music – whooosh…you fall right in step with the action.
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This time round the IMF team is on the track of ‘The Syndicate’ an evil group of agents whom are all listed as supposedly dead or MIA along with the fact that no one seems to believe they exist, leads us to understand quickly enough who the bad guys are and who the good guys are..or in the case of one character..it might beg the question..do we?

Simon Pegg back again as “Benji Dunn” adds the expected comic relief at the right intervals and is a fun watch here. Alec Baldwin as CIA naysayer “Alan Hunley” who believes The Syndicate might just be a figment of Ethan’s imagination, and who begs the question if the IMF is really relevant any longer as he feels they’ve more or less just been ‘lucky’ so far. Jeremy Renner “William Brandt” & Ving Rhames “Luther Sitckell” are both back and here to stay. Rebecca Ferguson as “Ilsa Faust” is truly the one who takes it all here. She is a breath of fresh air for the franchise, the right blend of strong and sexy – not knowing if she is friend or foe makes her all the more mysterious and carries in the movie well. My motto of ‘you’re only as good as your villain’ also comes across well with a notably beardless Sean Harris as baddie “Solomon Lane”.
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While Rogue Nation is most definitely an adrenaline ride fueled by high octane action sequences, it’s also wittier than past M.I. films with Cruise facial reactions to some of what’s going on let’s you in on the secret that yes..he knows how impractical it all seems.. but yet makes you feel as it’s not. There are great moments of comic relief mixed with suspense and a wonderful cast that has great chemistry with one another.

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Cruise might have been underappreciated in Edge of Tomorrow but it’s clearer than ever that Ethan Hunt is one of Cruise’s better signature roles and to that extent, just might be back. And to answer Baldwin’s character’s meta-question: Can Mission Impossible stay relevant in this new era of bigger and better-let’s outdo the next guy film? The answer is decidedly maybe. Ok..Definitely maybe. 😉

Grade: B-
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Screening: Monday, July 27, 2015 courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In wide release: Friday, July 31, 2015