Archive for July 10th, 2015

Well, I’ve almost finished my “summer” week off, so it’s time for the movie review.  Over the last couple of days I’ve watched:  “Salt (the Director’s Cut)“, “Ted (Unrated)“, “The Judge“, “Don Jon“, and “Road House“.  Reader’s caution:  spoilers and this is a long post, so if you’re not interested in my movie reviews, you should move on to another post / blog.  You’ve been warned…
Salt (the Director’s cut) – movie review
This is a spy / action movie – pure and simple.  The interesting (different) thing is that it has Angelina Jolie as the female lead who plays a Russian mole in the CIA.  Basically, there are sleeper agents planted in America meant to bring the country down at some unknown point in the future.  The agents are generally switched in at a young age after an accident is staged to eliminate their target’s family.  Blah, blah, blah…  A whole lotta action and kickin’ butt and while the story isn’t over (there has to be an opening for sequels), this round is won by the good guys.  (Was there ever any doubt?)
I’m not sure why, but I’m still not a BIG AJ fan.  I can’t think of anything I’ve seen her in which I completely hated, but, on the other hand, I’ve never seen her in anything and thought:  “Wow!  That was brilliant!”  Having said that, I don’t go out of my way to see her work and she’s pretty good, maybe even VERY good in this role.  So, yeah, I guess she’s growing on me.  Final recommendation:  highly recommended!  An action / spy-thriller which delivers.  Just don’t ask yourself:  “How did they change the kids’ fingerprints?“, and sit back and enjoy the film.  Rated “R” – mostly for violence, but also for language.
Ted (Unrated) – movie review
Rated “R” for language and suggestive situations.  Perhaps the regular version of this movie was edited for TV and/or has a lower rating.  In this version, you can’t go five minutes without cursing, non-PC humor or “suggestive” situations.  There!  That’s that, up front…  This movie is seriously funny.  It stars  Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett (the child without friends and later man),  Mila Kunis as Lori Collins (John’s girl friend) and Ted (the Teddy Bear, voiced by Seth MacFarlane) who comes to life and becomes John’s best friend for life.
The great thing about this movie (aside from the animation and special effects) is that Ted becomes a celebrity instead of “the family’s little secret”.  Ted has his few moments of fame, and then he’s old news and nobody really cares about a “living” Teddy Bear.  Think about that for a second…  What would have happened if the Clark’s had simply announced Kal-El had landed on Earth and here he is??  Would we have a Superman character as we understand him today?  Can we “really” get used to almost anything?
Anyway, aside from the “rad” premise, for me, the real big surprise was that Mark Wahlberg can both act and can do comedy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am a fan of Wahlberg and buy movies just because he’s in them.  But, I never “really” thought of him as an actor – just a guy playing tough-guy roles, just like John Wayne always used to play the quiet, strong, American cowboy hero.  At least that’s what I’ve always thought.  I’m struck that I may have to go back and examine some of his roles for actual acting.  Oh, what a burden!  Now, I have to go back and watch a bunch of action films…
Final recommendation:  strong recommendation.  I have a feeling a good deal (maybe most) of the material will seem dated in a few years as many of the humor references are timely / current, but for now, this is a funny movie with a surprising amount of heart (again unexpected) in it.  Again, this movie is NOT appropriate for minors due to language and if you are sensitive about “Politically Correct” humor you will find this movie extremely offensive and not funny.
The Judge – movie review
The Judge” stars one of my all-time favorite actors (Robert Duvall) as a small town Indiana judge who’s been arrested for murder.  His estranged son (Robert Downey Jr.), a big-city attorney returns to defend  his father.  This is a powerful movie about the law, the justice system and (but) mostly about family.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended movie!  If you like well acted, powerful drama about law and about family, this is a movie for you.  The movie is rate “R” for language and sexual references.  I don’t really remember any of that, but it is definitely a movie for mature audiences.
Don Jon – movie review
This is a movie about a young man – a “player” – who is (also) obsessed with viewing on-line pornography.   His obsession results in an inability to relate to women as real people, so the real women who shuffle through his bed are never as good as the imagined lover(s) he finds on-line.  The film was written, directed by, and stars  Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jon;  Scarlett Johansson plays his girl friend Barbara Sugarman;  and, Julianne Moore plays Esther, an older woman / widow whom Jon eventually falls in love with.  Well, at least he ends the movie with her.
This movie, (like “Ted” above) contains frequent use of cursing and (unlike “Ted“) brief flashes of actual pornography (mostly uncovered frontal views).  It is clearly inappropriate for minors.  But, is it any good?  Yes.  Yes, it is a good movie about a serious social issue we are facing in this country (pornography) and it deals with perhaps the two serious issues of the problem:  1)  the objectification and marketing of women (and products) into purely sexual roles (in and out of pornography), and 2)  the effect of constant (maybe consistent is the correct word) viewing of pornography on a group of society.  I simply don’t know what long term effect the viewing of porn will have on a generation of young males who begin watching porn while under 10 years of age and continue on through puberty.   Of course this second issue isn’t actually dealt with or even mentioned directly in the movie, but I feel it is implied by Jon’s struggle to find meaning in his relationships.
Esther “helps” Jon find meaning.  Essentially, the risk of giving yourself (your emotions, not just your body) to another person allows you to transcend the sexual act and gives it (the act) and your relationship “meaning”.  Clearly, traditional morality holds to establishing the “meaning” in a relationship before the physical giving / sharing.
Oh, before I forget…  I would like to give a mention to the character “Monica” (Jon’s younger sister) played by Brie Larson.  Near the end of the movie, she has her one paragraph of dialogue and tells her brother (and family) he is better off without his girl friend (Barbara) because she wasn’t “in love” with Jon.  She simply wanted to change him into her idea of a perfect husband.  The scene is brilliant and comes completely out of left field.  I actually stopped the show to re-watch Brie deliver the lines and then fade back into the “I don’t care about any of this” Little Sister role.  Brilliant writing, acting, directing and editing!
Final recommendation:  neutral.  I know that is a cop-out, but I found the movie honest and well done, but troubling.  If the ends justifies the means, then the language and snippets of porn serve an artistic purpose and I can leave the film to personal taste.  If you are of the opinion that ends do not justify the means (any means to a good end), then the “message” of the movie is lost in the too frequent foul language and snippets.  Either way, all three of the main characters give solid performances.   Obviously, this was an “R” rated movie…  Do they even give “X” ratings anymore?
Road House – movie review
If you like the actors Patrick Swayze (Dalton, the main character) or Sam Elliott (playing bouncer Wade Garrett), you’ll enjoy this movie.  If not, it’s still an okay action movie from the late 1980’s.  I’ve seen this movie a half-dozen times on TV and this is the first time I’ve “seen” the movie.  It was a “recommended for me” movie on Netflix.  The action scenes are pretty much the same but the bar scenes are loaded with “T&A” and (again) the movie is pretty full of cursing.  (These seem to be common themes this week.)  Kelly Lynch plays “Doc” – Dalton’s love interest and Ben Gazzara comes way down to play the bad guy “Brad Wesley”.
Basically, small town controlled by an evil corporatist (Wesley).  Dive bar owner wants to cleanup his business, so he hires Dalton.  Dalton comes to town, blah, blah, kicks butt, blah, blah, charms the love interest, blah, blah, kicks major butt, short blah, defeats Wesley’s gang and Wesley dies.  Dalton and Doc skinny dip in the local pond, happily ever after…
Final recommendation:  moderate recommendation.  To tell the truth, the T&A is gratuitous and my memory of the TV version (without the T&A) is better than this “full” version.  I guess I’ve turned prudish in my old age.  The action isn’t as good as I remember – mostly because fight choreography is much better in modern film.  Having said that, I liked Swayze and Elliott in these roles and they played well off of each other.  So, dated but still and ok movie.  Wait for it…  Yeah, this is another “R” rated movie.
Well, that’s it for now.  Thanks to any readers who’ve managed to get through all of this with me…
On This Day In:
2014 Just Another Brick From The Wall
2013 Artistic Demands
2012 Foundations
2011 Are We Devouring Yet?

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Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern.  The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery.  The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
    —    Frank Herbert
From his book:  “Children Of Dune
On This Day In:
2014 Just Another Brick From The Wall
2013 Artistic Demands
2012 Foundations
2011 Are We Devouring Yet?

Read Full Post »

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