Film Review: THE KITCHEN (USA 2019)

The Kitchen Poster
Trailer

The wives of New York gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison.

Director:

Andrea Berloff

Writers:

Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series) | 1 more credit »

THE KITCHEN follows the premise of last year’s Steve McQueen’s WIDOWS where three women take control of their lives after their husbands are put away.  One succeeds and the other doesn’t.  In WIDOWS, the husbands are dead gone while in THE KITCHEN the husbands are put away in prison.  In the WIDOWS, the widows take on a  robbery while in THE KITCHEN the abused wives take  on being mobsters, collecting protection money and protecting businesses for their money.

THE KITCHEN is directed by Andrea Berloff who rose to fame with his STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON where he won the Oscar for Best original screenplay.  The trouble with THE KITCHEN is that it is based on a comic book series which means that it should not be taken too seriously, which it does.  Both Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish are dead serious establishing the fact that they can be credible mobsters.  Are both scary?  Would one pay protection money to these two?  Would other mobster heads give in to these two?  Hardly.  This is the prime reason the film fails.  If the script was to that the material more lightly, then the audience would forgive the credibility factor.  Fortunately the Elisabeth Moss character is more concerned with her lover (Domhnall Gleeson) than anything else.

The story is set in the late 70’s in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, and hence the film’s title.  It is not a very inviting title – and Sylvester Stallone had to rename his movie PARADISE ALLEY instead of HELL’s KITCHEN in his first non-ROCKY movie.   The three 1978 Hell’s Kitchen housewives have mobster husbands are sent to prison by the FBI.  Left with little but a sharp ax to grind, the ladies take the Irish mafia’s matters into their own hands—proving unexpectedly adept at everything from running the rackets to taking out the competition…literally.

THE KITCHEN is clearly a female oriented movie.  From the very start of the movie, the theme is obvious as the song “It’s a man’s world is heard on the soundtrack.  As in Alfonso Cuaron’s ROMA and the upcoming AFTER THE WEDDING in which the words :  “We women have to stick together”, the words: “They f*** us up every time..” are uttered.  The male roles in THE KITCHEN are written so that they become second-class citizens to their female counterparts.   These are too obvious to be credible.  The film contains too many scenes where the males are speechless at a loss in front of women.  But if taken lightly, it can turn into good fun.

Berloff’s film plays as if it is based on true events.  This is how serious his film gets.  By comparison, McQueen’s WIDOWS knows when to be serious but mainly knows when it need to be fun.

It is good to see McCarthy venture out of comedy with her more serious roles as in this flea and the recent  CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? and likewise for Tiffany Haddish.  Elisabeth Moss succeeds more comfortably in her role having playing similar roles as in THE SQUARE and THE HANDMAID’S TALE.

Could have been better, THE KITCHEN ends up a missed opportunity.

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

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TIFF 2018 Review: CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (USA 2018) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Poster
Trailer

When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel.

Director:

Marielle Heller

Writers:

Nicole Holofcener (screenplay by), Jeff Whitty (screenplay by)

 

It takes courage to make for comedian Melissa McCarthy to lose all that weight and to star in a serious role of a convicted felon as well as to bring to the screen the story of a protagonist that is annoying and not one many can root for.  

Accolades for the effort.  Based on the book/biography of the same name, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? tells the story of failed writer Lee Israel who did at one time make it on the New York Times Best 10  bestseller list but now, down spiralled to drinking and being exceptionally rude to everyone.  She is a petty thief as well.  Then she learns something she is really good at, forging literary letters and selling them to collectors.  She befriends a gay Brit (Richard E. Grant) who does not help her esteem either. 

Heller’s first third of the film shows Lee as a dislikable person, despite offering some break in her jokes and insults.  Heller and McCarthy achieves their difficult task of getting the audience to slowly become sympathetic (if not root) for the character after that.  

But the film is a biography and a study character of the forger Lee Israel and in that sense, the film succeeds tremendously.

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

Happy Birthday: Melissa McCarthy

melissamccarthy.jpgMelissa McCarthy

Born: August 26, 1970 in Plainfield, Illinois, USA

[harsh review from a critic focusing on her weight] I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.

BRIDESMAIDS
dir. Paul Feig
Stars:
Kristen Wiig
Maya Rudolph
LIFE AS WE KNOW ITLIFE AS WE KNOW IT
dir. Greg Berlanti
Stars:
Katherine Heigl
Duhamel
GOGo
1999
dir. Doug Liman
Cast
Sarah Polley
Katie Holmes
MOVIE POSTERTHIS IS 40
dir. Judd Apatow
Stars:
Paul Rudd
Leslie Mann
MOVIE POSTERIDENTITY THIEF
2013
dir. Seth Gordon
Stars:
Jason Bateman
Melissa McCarthy
MOVIE POSTERTHE HANGOVER PART III
2013
dir. Todd Phillips
Stars:
Bradley Cooper
Zach Galifianakis
MOVIE POSTERTHE HEAT
2013
dir. Paul Feig
Stars:
Sandra Bullock
Melissa McCarthy
TAMMY
2014
dir. Ben Falcone
Stars:
Melissa McCarthy
Susan Sarandon
MOVIE POSTERST. VINCENT DE VAN NUYS
2014
dir. Theodore Melfi
Stars:
Melissa McCarthy
Bill Murray

 

Movie Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016). Direted by Paul Feig

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

ghostbusters_2016GHOSTBUSTERS (USA 2016) ***1/2

Directed by Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

Review by Gilbert Seah

It took tons of effort and luck before GHOSTBUSTERS could be get this fresh look on the screen. The original 1984 hit version is best remembered as a classic that should not be tempered with. The original 4 that made GHOSTBUSTERS in 1984 including the late Harold Ramis who died in 1984 made a pact that no more GHOSTBUSTERS movie could be made unless all agreed. Bill Murray was the one who objected to all the previous scripts till this one written by Katie Dippold (THE HEAT) and championed by Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS). Bill Murray has a cameo as a supernatural activity debunker. And many loyal fans were upset that the film is given a female cast instead.

The film begins with an impressive opening sequence with a tour guide played by TV SILICON VALLEY’s Zach Woods explaining some paranormal behaviour before poltergeists appear. The story then moves on to professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) who reunites with friends (Melissa McCarthy, Kate Mckinnon) to rid NYC of a ghost invasion. The film contains no boring romances, no life lessons or unnecessary drama – just plain silly fun with a female twist.

GHOSTBUSTERS runs out of steam at parts but the audience knows that another funny part will arrive just around the corner. A lot of the humour is provided by the 4 main actresses, who for the most part work well together to keep the laughs coming fast and furious. McKinnon is the most manic of the four, playing the scientist inventor, whose technical gibberish can hardly be understood at times. But who cares? Though Wiig plays the most serious of the four, the professor who loses tenure and has to return to fighting ghosts, she provides a good number of laughs. In fact, the film’s two funniest laugh-out jokes come from her, in the segment where she is manically runs to warn the mayor (Andy Garcia) having dinner of the ghost invasion. McCarthy overdoes it as usual. She does look funny in her oversized jumpsuit, showing that she is game in having a good time. One can get too much of her, while one wishes there is more of Leslie Jones, the reluctant subway employee who joins the group.

The special effects work well. A number of ghosts look like the ones from the original. But the film might be too scary for younger children.
The new GHOSTBUSTERS at least learns from the original. The script by Katie Dippold improves while it can. The original theme song recorded by Ray Parker, Jr. back in the day that was the number 1 hit that stayed on on the billboard for 3 weeks is used at various points in the movie, obviously both reminding and reviving audience’s fond memories. Improvements in the film include adding a human villain, the one that opens the portal for the ghosts. Another is the addition of a new character, Kevin (THOR’s Chris Hemsworth) the male equivalent of the pretty dumb blonde secretary. Kevin has major problems answering the telephone while carrying on normal duties, creating more problems when he becomes possessed. Hemsworth displays a surprising flair for comedy and dance.

GHOSTBUSTERS definitely pleases as evident during the promo screening I attended. It takes quite a lot to both getting the audience to applaud as well as to stay for the closing credits.

 

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

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Movie Review: THE BOSS. Starring Melissa McCarthy

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

theboss.jpg 2016) **
Directed by Ben Falcone

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage

Review by Gilbert Seah

THE BOSS is yet another nasty male comedy in which the male is replaced by the fairer sex. Melissa McCarthy seems to have cornered this market with the nasty girls comedies like BRIDESMAIDS, TAMMY, THE HEAT and her most successful SPY. But SPY, THE HEAT and BRIDESMAIDS were directed by the talented Paul Feig whereas THE BOSS and TAMMY fare into McCarthy’s not-so-successful territory. But she does manage a few laughs though, to her credit.

Michelle Darnell is an orphan. She is returned from adoption to the orphanage just too many times. This gives the girl an incentive to become ‘someone’ and not let anybody drag her down. Orphan Darnell morphs into Melissa McCarthy, super successful female businesswoman and 47th richest (why 47th?) in the whole world. But a former business partner, Renault (Peter Dinklage) takes her down with insider trading. After serving a prison sentence, she forces herself on her former personal assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell) whose daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) she learns to grow very fond of. Michelle ends up starting a new business from Claire’s delicious brownies recruiting Rachel’s schoolmates in the process.

THE BOSS is pure McCarthy comedy. The only character in the story providing the laughs is her character, Darnell. Everyone else, are her straight men (or women as the case may be). Non-fans of McCarthy should stay away. At least in SPY, Jason Statham generated laughs playing against type. The only character that provides a few laughs besides Darnell is the Kathy Bates, Ida Marquette character. Unfortunately, there is not enough of Bates, her character last seen riding away on her horse, Butter.

There are, noticeably no jokes in this film and in her last (SPY) that poke fun at McCarthy’s weight. In fact this point is so obvious that her costume designer has not once allowed McCarthy’s neck to be shown on screen, making McCarthy’s outfits looking a bit weird. Also noticeable is Darnell questioning her prodigy, Claire as to the length of time she had sex. Nothing is mentioned of herself.

THE BOSS does have its hilarious segments such as the girl fight between the Darnell Darlings and the Daffodil Girls or the beginning show when Darnell goes on stage strutting her stuff. The Dardell character is a foul-mouthed, obnoxious and loud person. So, it is not surprising that the film’s best moments has her pitting these qualities against a super-bitch -mother, Helen (Annie Mumolo) who becomes a rival in the brownie business.

But the bits trying to insert some action into the film like the swordfight at the end do not work well. There are a lot of comedic segments (the leg tanning; the bra adjustment/shoving) involving McCarthy spewing vulgarities non-stop. Whether these are funny depends on ones individual taste.

Still, THE BOSS is a film with a lazy script based on a tried formula – obnoxious person making good using his/her bad qualities. THE BOSS is essentially just made up of a series of skits with the loose theme, banging on McCarthy’s draw to make the movie.

 

 

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com