Film Review: DEATH WISH (USA 2018)

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Death Wish Poster
Trailer

A family man becomes a vigilante killing machine when his family is violently attacked by robbers.

Director:

Eli Roth

Writers:

Joe Carnahan (screenplay by), Brian Garfield (from the novel by) | 1 more credit »

 

DEATH WISH 2018 opening March 2nd is the remake of the famous 1974 Charles Bronson film (directed by Michael Winner) that spurned two sequels.  A vigilante action film, loosely based on the 1972 novel of the same title by Brian Garfield,  the film followed Paul Kersey, a man who becomes a vigilante after his wife is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted during a home invasion.

In the new Eli Roth version, Paul Kersey is now a doctor, a surgeon who has access to drugs and information that enables him to torture the crooks he is after, only because Roth loves this kind of violence, being the director of the two HOSTEL horror films.  Dr. Kersey (Bruce Willis) becomes vigilante after being beaten up by two thugs right after his wife his killed and daughter out into a coma after a home invasion.  Dr. Kersey hunts down those responsible, brutally torturing and killing them.

DEATH WISH 2018 delivers exactly what is expected – from Willis and director Roth – a  no-nonsense vigilante revenge action thriller with predictably all the ends nicely tied together so that Dr. Kersey cannot be held responsible for all the previous vigilant killings.

The script by Joe Carnahan has updated the film with characters using iPads and cell phones that never existed back in 1974.  Kersey’s daughter, Jordan (the very pretty Camila Morrone) goes upstairs to get her mother’s iPad before getting attacked by the home invaders.  Dr. Kersey calls Knox (Beau Knapp), the main villain of the story on his cell phone to lure him out in the open in a night club.  But the script while being manipulative, carefully devotes time to introduce the main characters (so that the audience can identify wi them) before starting on the action.

At the time of release of the original 1974 DEATH WISH, the film was attacked by many film critics due to its support of vigilantism and advocating unlimited punishment of criminals. But the novel denounced vigilantism, whereas the film embraced the notion, same as this 2018 version.  The 1974 film was a commercial success and resonated with the public in the United States, which was facing increasing crime rates during the 1970s.   But the 2018 version has more obstacles to face with the current events of school shooting, the NRA boycott and anti-gun protests around the United States.  Worst still, the 2018 version is totally pro-gun which will make the film an even harder sell.  It is not surprising that none of those involved in the making of the film, noticeably Bruce Willis have been absent in any publicity prior to the film’s release.  It is also a point to note that Sylvester Stallone wanted to star in this new version as a anti-weapon police officer Kersey, but this never came to fruition.  (Another point for discontent between Willis and Stallone after Stallone criticized Willis for wanting too much money to star in his last EXPENDABLES movie.)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r2vsi3ah2w

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1997 Movie Review: LEAVING LAS VEGAS, 1997

 

LEAVING LAS VEGAS,   MOVIE POSTERLEAVING LAS VEGAS, 1995
Movie Reviews

Directed by Mike Figgis
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands, Richard Lewis, Kim Adams, Emily Proctor, Valeria Golino
Review by Nina Katungi

SYNOPSIS:

After losing his family and then his job to alcoholism, Ben decides to pack up his life, head to Las Vegas, and drink himself to death. Sera, a worn and wasted prostitute crosses paths with Ben in Las Vegas. They find solitude in one another and soon enough an unconventional relationship starts to bloom.

WON OSCAR for BEST ACTOR (Cage)

REVIEW:

“Leaving Las Vegas” is based on a semi-autobiographical novel written by John O’Brian. John O’Brian was an alcoholic with the end in sight, just like his character, Ben. His fate arrived sooner than expected. O’Brian took his own life just two weeks after he found out his novel was going to be adapted into a film. O’Brian’s father believes that “Leaving Las Vegas” was his son’s suicide note. Mike Figgis adapted the novel into a screenplay and managed to maintain the dark undertones that the novel entails. Figgis succeeded in bringing this beautiful but extremely solemn tale onto the big screen. Figgis also composed the music for the soundtrack. What he put together was a rather haunting but delicately emotional sound.

Ben (Cage) works in the film industry in Los Angeles. It is a pivotal time in Ben’s life. His alcoholism has past the point of no return and his life is hastily withering away. His wife and son have left him and now, after tolerating his erratic behaviour for a while, Ben’s workplace finally let him go too. Ben packs up his life in LA, obliterates everything that is personal to him and heads to Las Vegas where he shall drink to his death. Once in Vegas, Ben stumbles upon an angel, Sera.

Sera (Shue) is a prostitute working on the streets of Las Vegas. She moved to Las Vegas with Yuri (Sands) her pimp/boyfriend and since has endured a life of using her body to make money. Sera has been in this business a long time and has experienced all the horrors she can imagine. Her body no longer seems a part of her rather a mere tool to make money. Yuri is in control of this tool, using it for his own personal needs as well as a form of income. Sera’s long lost a sense of herself but when she meets Ben things start to change for the better. In the meantime Yuri is in trouble with the Romanian mafia – it’s so far gone that a group of thugs have been sent to deal with the situation. Yuri is aware of his fate, he cuts strings with Sera and lets her go free.

Ben almost runs Sera over at a stop light and being the tough girl she is, Sera struts to the car and gives Ben a piece of her mind. This is Ben and Sera’s first encounter. Ben later finds Sera on the street. Ben’s aware that Sera’s a prostitute, he offers her money to come back to his motel. Sera is prepared for yet another with a “client” but to her surprise it turns out to be the first bearable night that she has had in a long time. Sera encounters something that she’s never encountered before. Ben simply wants her to keep him company, not for sex but just to talk. Sera realises how lonely she’s is and has been for a long time. Ben is the void that Sera’s been missing for so long. With Yuri out of the picture Sara asks Ben to move in with her. Ben is hesitant but agrees on one condition – Sera must never ask Ben to stop drinking. This promise seems easy at first but as soon as Ben’s alcoholic world becomes real to Sera and as soon as Sera’s falls for him, this promise to allow him to kill himself, well the promise is broken almost as quick as it was made.

This is he last time I’ve seen Nicholas Cage play a great role. I think he’s talented but unfortunately there hasn’t been much proof of that since “Leaving Las Vegas”. Cage’s choice in roles, up until now have been terrible, bad films which have resulted in some very poor performances. When I think of the great films he’s been in like “Moonstruck” or “Raising Arizona” I get sad because I honestly miss what he was and perhaps what he won’t ever be again. He may find himself turning another corner soon, I hope, I really do. Cage won an Oscar for his performance in “Leaving Las Vegas” and it was well deserved. Elisabeth Shue played the role of Sera so well, she was also nominated for an Oscar but regretfully she didn’t win like her co-star. Before this film Shue was only really known as Tom Cruise’s love interest in “Cocktail”. She managed to turn a lot heads in “Leaving Las Vegas” but unfortunately after this role she fizzled away, which I also think is a shame. Perhaps she too will find another role that fits her just like a glove. “Leaving Las Vegas” wasn’t only a success with its two lead actors it received a generous amount of nominations for best director, screenplay, and film as well. This is not a classic love story with a happy ending. It’s a love story that ends as quickly as it begins but what it does is it leaves you with a compellingly emotional state of mind. It’s such a great piece of work.

LEAVING LAS VEGAS, 1997

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: BATTLE OF THE SEXES (USA)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Battle of the Sexes Poster
Trailer

2:23 | Trailer
2 VIDEOS | 37 IMAGES

The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.

Writer:

Simon Beaufoy

Stars:

Emma StoneSteve CarellElisabeth Shue |

by Gilbert Seah

BATTLE OF THE SEXES begins with Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) just winning the women’s singles tennis championship making her number one female player in the world.

King is outraged with the inequality of pay by the National Tennis League, especially with Jack, the chairman (Bill Pullman), who is shown to be the real villain of the story. Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), arranges the battle of the sexes match, using his loud mouth and publicity to earn himself some cash to aid his failing marriage. To King, winning this match is more symbolic.

It is a milestone for women’s rights for equal pay, a point that is mentioned at the film’s end credits but not made clear throughout the film. The lazy script by Simon Beaufoy (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) never bothers with important details of the story.

The film overdramatizes to the point of laughter. One scene has Billie’s lover in her hair salon shop hearing the news of Billie, realizing that she is needed and dramatically drops everything to leave the salon. The wardrobe of the 70’s has never looked so awful in any other film.The script contains lots of inane dialogue and unfunny jokes.

One line has Larry asking his wife if she was getting a blow dry, with full sexual innuendo. The film sheds no real light on the female rights movement, except what we already know.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5ykcuAS1F4

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

Happy Birthday: Elisabeth Shue

elisabethshue.jpgElisabeth Shue

Born: October 6, 1963 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Married to:
Davis Guggenheim (August 1994 – present) (3 children)

[on acting] The darker, more complex and emotional the part is, the easier it is for me. But I don’t take any of that stuff home with me at the end of the day.

The Karate Kid
1984
dir. by John G. Avildsen
starring
Ralph Macchio
Pat Morita
Shue
Back to the FutureBack to the Future II
1989
dir. Zemeckis
starring
Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Back to the Future III
1990
dir. Robert Zemeckis
starring
Michael J Fox
Christopher Lloyd
LEAVING LAS VEGASLeaving Las Vegas
1995
dir. Mike Figgis
Starring
Nicolas Cage
Shue
GRACIEGracie
2007
dir. Davis Guggenheim
Starring
Jesse Lee Soffer
Christopher Shand
Hamlet 2Hamlet 2
dir. Andrew Fleming
Starring
Steve Coogan
Catherine Keener
MOVIE POSTERHOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
dir. Mark Tonderai
Stars:
Jennifer Lawrence
Elisabeth Shue
SydneyWhiteLions for Lambs
dir. Redford
Starring
Tom Cruise
Meryl Streep
MOVIE POSTERCHASING MAVERICKS
dir. Curtis Hanson
Stars:
Jonny Weston
Gerard Butler

 

 

 

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