FILM REVIEW: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (US 2017) ****

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All the Money in the World Poster
Trailer

The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.

Director:

Ridley Scott

Writers:

David ScarpaJohn Pearson (based on the book by)

 

The big question everyone will be asking about ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is how effective the replacement of Christopher Plummer in the titular role of Paul Getty.  After the sexual harassment allegations surfaced on Kevin Spacey, director Ridley Scott (BLADE RUNNER) quickly replaced him with Plummer, doing the required re-shoots.  After viewing ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, all traces of Spacey have been removed and it is nothing short of remarkable that Ridley has done such a great job.  And Oscar Winner Plummer is great.  Spacey would ave added a sly, comedic sarcastic element to his portrayal – his trait, but Plummer plays him straight, funny or serious depending on the situation.  The world needs not need to see a more sarcastic Getty.

The film is narrated from the grandson, Paulo (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher Plummer), giving the film his perspective on his grandfather.  “He is not only the richest man in the world, but the richest man who ever lived!”  Plummer as Getty shows the stingy side of a millionaire, how he trusts artifacts and objects instead of people, as these show themselves as they are, with nothing hidden. But just as his colleagues and friend betray him, he does the same with his grandson’s artifact.

The film contains a few ineffective segments.  One odd one that stands out is a short segment set in 1838 in Saudi Arabia where Getty (in younger mode and Plummer decked in make up and dyed black hair to look younger) discusses oil.  That scene is total unnecessary and could have been done away with to save money and Plummer looking a bit ridiculous.  One cliched segment has the grandson walking the streets of Rome in the middle of the night accosting the prostitutes.  When he remarks to one of them: “I can take care of myself,” one can guess that he is just about to be kidnapped.  The next scene has him pushed into a car by the kidnappers.

But there are a few impressive scenes like the beginning black and white shot of a city with vintage cars.  The scene evolves into colour and the famous Trini fountain is revealed while Italian dialogue heard in the background.  It could be a scene right out of Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA.

All the performances are outstanding from Michelle Williams as the angry mother slowly developing more tolerance towards the hired Chase to Plummer to Wahlberg.  The best  performance, however belongs to French actor Roman Duris (THE BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED, THE NEW GIRLDFRIEND) as the Getty’s grandson’s kidnapper.

Scott’s film is strong on emotions.    Getty’s daughter-in-law played by Williams undergoes the entire spectrum of emotions and character including, anger, strength, vulnerability, love, sensitivity, tolerance and annoyance.  All kidnapping films have the element of the Stockholm Syndrome.  As the kidnapper and kidnapped are both male, the bonding is one of trust and respect, which makes for the film greatest surprises.

The film plays more of a suspense thriller than a biopic on the millionaire Getty.  Still, there are enough screen time given to Getty to  show him the man he could be.  The words on the screen at the closing credits makes it clear that though the film is based on true events, dialogue and some events have been fictionalized.  It would be interesting to know which parts of the film are fictionalized.  The whole story, at the very end, seems like the perfect kidnapping caper, perfect for a good suspense film.

The film also contains a message. Watching Christopher Plummer as Getty teaches me,  wealthy Scrooge, a few things while opening my eyes.

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

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DADDY’S HOME 2 (USA 2017)

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Daddy's Home 2 Poster
Trailer

Brad and Dusty must deal with their intrusive fathers during the holidays.

Director:

Sean Anders

Writers:

Sean AndersBrian Burns (characters)

 

One can tell that there is something wrong with a movie when the movie within a movie turns out to be more interesting than the movie itself.  In DADDY’S HOME 2, the families end up at one point stranded at a suburban cinema where a fake movie MISSILE TOW starring Liam Neeson is playing.  Neeson pays a character (voice only heard) that rescues his family from terrorists at all costs.  That fake film is heard for only a minute or two before director Anders turns the audience back to his nightmare Christmas movie – DADDY’S HOME 2

Moviegoers must have been very naughty during 2017 as Santa has rewarded them already with two awfully bad Christmas comedies – A BAD MOM’ S CHRISTMAS and now DADDY’S HOME 2.  DADDY’S HOME numero uno arrived on Christmas Day 2015 and went on to gross a remarkable $150 million domestically.  Thus arrives number 2 with Paramount hoping to do well again at the box-office.

The first film dealt with step-dad Brad (Will Ferrell) having to deal with his wife’s kids’ real father Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) showing up to undo all the values that Brad had instilled in his family.  HOME 2 ups the angst with the arrival of the dads’ dads in the form of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow.  Gibson has had quite the bad press and has been successful behind the camera (HACKSAW RIDGE, PASSION OF THE CHRIST) than in front of it.  Surprisingly, he is the funniest and best of the cast in the film, playing against his true character in life – a macho, gun-totting anti-feminist old goat.

Like all Christmas comedies, the usual disastrous set ups are there – the setting up of the electrical house decorations that go wrong (at least this one is quite elaborately done); the Christmas tree shopping; the snowball fight (not funny at all); the Christmas dinner; the feel good sentiment (it is only the children that count); the breaking of a hard heart (John Cena’s as the biological father of Dusty’s kid).  The worst of all is the film’s climax, which must rank as the corniest set-up of all time that takes place in a cinema theatre during a blackout.  There is a shameless promotion of the good of going to the movies where audiences are encouraged to turn to the next person to greet them.  

A few non Christmas setups are included – the most notable being the bowling segment where one son has the problem of throwing his bowling ball into the gutter.  It is a rather simple setup that turns out to generate only a few laughs, if any pity laughs.  The predictable shoplifting gag does not work either nor the revelation of the notes that Dusty’s girlfriend takes of Brad’s wife that turn out to be good ones.

DADDY’S HOME 2 might work for the undemanding moviegoer.  There were people applauding at he end of the film, but critics can only shrug at this early Christmas enterprise.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8shgJX14HQ

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1997 Movie Review: BOOGIE NIGHTS, 1997

BOOGIE NIGHTS MOVIE POSTER
BOOGIE NIGHTS, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy
Review by Cathryn Naiker

SYNOPSIS:

A famous porn director discovers a young man in a nightclub. He is soon thrusted into the pornography scene of the late seventies and early eighties. They enjoy great success together and are looking into crossing over into mainstream film. However, the year 1980 along with being wired on cocaine and the introduction of videotape turn their worlds

About:

This was director Paul Thomas Anderson’s sophomore feature film. Anderson had been researching this film since the late eighties and based a lot of the characters on real life accounts. The film was picked up by new line cinema who was constantly in battle with Anderson over length and content of the film. The studio was disappointed with the film until critics started praising it. Burt Reynolds, in arguably his best work as Jack Horner, won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor. The film was also nominated for a few Oscars, but no wins.

Highlights:

Boogie Nights was the movie that turned “Markey Mark” into Mark Wahlberg. From pop music (“Good Vibrations”, anyone?) to infamous Calvin Klien tighty whitey ads, Mark was able to somehow make the transition from a pop-star to a serious actor in an era where singer/actor transitions were not so common or successful. I think that the role of Eddie/Dirk Diggler for Mark was a great role for him at the time since so much of the film focuses on his “package” and that was also the cause for a lot of his publicity in real life. Another outstanding performance came from Julianne Moore who plays Amber Waves. Amber is the main starlet in Jack Horner’s films. She is the maternal role model in a house full of lost souls. In the mist of a custody battle for her son, we see her being motherly towards Dirk Diggler at the same time we see her introduce Dirk (and presumably other characters) to cocaine.

Review:

When this film first started being reviewed most people were expecting a comedy about the porn industry of the 1970’s. Instead, there was a very long dramatic ensemble piece about sex, drugs and not enough disco or rock and roll. This film came at a time where 90’s chic became a crossover between the “heroin look” and bellbottoms. The 70’s made a huge comeback in 1997 in fashion and in films like “54” and “Austin Powers”.

I feel where this movie fails is at telling the story of all the characters they portray. Then again, if it did tell such a story, it would be five hours long. All the characters are strong but there are just too many of them. Some key players don’t even get introduced until halfway through the film. The movie got very muddled with too many story lines but was eventually tied together in the end. For example, Don Cheadle’s character, Buck Swoope, has a great story line about a porn star that wants to open his own speaker and electronics store. But what does his journey have to do with Dirk Diggler? After watching the film again I can’t even remember if they share any dialogue together. I’m not saying Buck Swoope shouldn’t be in the film (because he’s fantastic in this movie) but his character is just an example of why there is just too much going on at once. On the flip side, it’s the charm of these characters that make the film what it is.

Overall I thought this film was highly entertaining, full of energy and impulse and kept me on the edge of my seat for an ending that was worth sticking around for (in more ways than one!).
boogie nights.jpg

 

Film Review: PATRIOTS DAY (USA 2016)

patriots_day.jpgDirector: Peter Berg
Writers: Peter Berg (screenplay), Matt Cook (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons

Review by Gilbert Seah

PATRIOTS DAY tells of the heroes behind the capture of the Boston marathon bombers. Arriving 3 years after the incident, the film is still as timely owing to similar terrorist attacks around the world – in Miami and Paris, just to name a few. In fact, the film also pays homage to the victims of those attacks as they are mentioned during the film’s closings credits.

The second film in less than year from director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg sees PATRIOTS DAY as an improvement with a more serious tone than the previous DEEPWATER HORIZON. More so, since the film is a re-creation of the Boston Marathon bombing on the holiday Patriots Day, which the title of the film derives from. It is the star vehicle again of Wahlberg and it is not surpassing he chose this role as Boston is the star’s hometown.

The film is an earnest account of Boston Police under Commissioner Ed Davis’s (John Goodman) actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it.

The film takes a while before establishing a sound footing. The first third of the film feels like the garbage that was in director Berg’s DEEPWATER HORIZON as in the scene where Wahlberg’s young daughter explains to him and wife how an oil rig could explode with a can of coke at the breakfast table. The family scenes of various characters at the film’s start sets the film up like a soap opera with the director like a traffic cop, but the film improves from there getting to the main business at hand.

The film’s best segments are those that involve the terrorists – as one is always curious of a world one knows very little of. The best of these is the interrogation segment where a lady expert is brought in to question the wife of the deceased bomber. One cannot help but admire the professionalism on display here – from the scripted questions to the suspenseful staging of this scene. The ultimate question that needs to be answered is “Is there another bomb?”

The film feels racist in the one scene with the asian whose car is hijacked by the terrorists. He speaks with a typical Chinese accent with all the ‘r’s pronounced as ‘l’s. But when the actual Chinese portrayed appears at the closing credits, he speaks with the same accent pronouncing all the ‘r’s as ‘l’s.

The purpose of the film is clearly a dedication to the strength and courage of the citizens of Boston from the law enforcement to the victims to the FBI. The last 10 minutes including the end credits are specially devoted for this purpose and though director Berg overdoes it, one can hardly complain over words like ”We consider ourselves not the victims of violence but the ambassadors of peace,’ voiced from the actual bomb victims.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWPRxMj8Wl8

 

 

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Happy Birthday: Mark Wahlberg

markwahlberg.jpgHappy Birthday actor Mark Wahlberg

Born: Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg
June 5, 1971 in Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Married to: Rhea Durham (1 August 2009 – present) (4 children)

Read reviews of the best of the actor;

Boogie NightsBoogie Nights
1997
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starring
Wahlberg
Burt Reynolds

THREE KINGSThree Kings
1999
dir. David O Russell
Starring
George Clooney
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Cube

THE ITALIAN JOBThe Italian Job
2003
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Edward Norton

We Own the Night
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THE DEPARTEDThe Departed
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Matt Damon
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The Other GuysThe Other Guys
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Stars:
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Max PayneMax Payne
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movie posterPLANET OF THE APES
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Mark Wahlberg
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movie posterINVINCIBLE
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MOVIE POSTER2 GUNS
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Stars:
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MOVIE POSTERBROKEN CITY
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dir. Scott Kalvert
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