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The Painted Veil (2006)
Classic films should be remade now and then, if for no other reason than to remind us of what true literature is all about.
Classic films should be remade now and then, if for no other reason than to remind us of what true literature is all about. The Painted Veil is one of those incredibly compelling films which deals directly with the human condition, specifically under conditions which warrant reaction. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, and Liev Schreiber create an ensemble fitting of a Maugham novel, and their performances are flawless.
Flawless as well is the cinematography and photography in this wonderful adaptation of the novel. Filmed entirely in China, the scenery is breathtaking and lends to the authenticity of the film. This also enhances the "illusion of the first time" which is so critical in any film, since the novel is set in China. A huge cast of extras is included.
The Painted Veil is a film which may not be suitable for the entire family (Rated PG-13 for some scenes of sexuality, partial nudity, disturbing images and brief drug content), but I don't believe it will offend older children, and I know it will entertain anyone who likes a well-acted film.
A landmark film in cinematography
Unfortunately, this film did not do well in the theaters. Which is a shame, because being an excellent film with superb graphics, it is also the forerunner of everything that has followed in Compter Generated Images (CGI).
Sky Captain was filmed entirely in blue screen. None of the sets existed except it the mind of the people doing the graphics. Which meant the actors had no frame of reference when they were performing. Oh, of course there were tape marks on the floor, but nothing to react to, nothing to walk around, nothing but a blank room with platforms where necessary to go up and down. Which means the actors had to envision the room as it might be and then respond without the aid of visual cues. Now, I don't know about you, but I would call that acting above and beyond the normal requirements. And the best part is, they all do it extremely well.
As to plot, considering the setting of the film, the plot is exactly as it should be. If this had been made in the 1950's, this film would have been a "Cliffhanger", like Commando Cody or Flash Gordon used to be, a tool to get parents to drop their kids off at the local theater for Saturday morning matinées while they did their grocery shopping or other chores. I remember doing that while my mom was off grocery shopping, and my brother and I would sit for two or three hours watching cartoons and a couple of those films.
Still, there isn't a lot of action by comparison to what we expect from films these days, and the technology in the film is 'old school', so perhaps the current generation of film goers just didn't get it. I recommend the film as a great way to spend ninety six minutes when the kiddies are looking to see what the old world used to be like. Rated PG, collectible for us Sci Fi types. Enjoy.
Plot? Who says a comedy needs a plot?
Plot? Who says a comedy needs a plot? Apparently no one ever told Andy Stock or Rick Stemson, but that doesn't seem to matter much. The Goods is an absolutely hilarious look at the irreverent business of selling used cars that hasn't been addressed this well since "Cadillac Man" or "Used Cars".
They picked the perfect cast for this side splitter. Jeremy Piven is one of those guys who can pull off the two-dimensional character with finesse. His portrayal of Don Ready is the perfect lead for this cast of unlikely car salesmen trying to save the failing dealership. Ving Rhames plays his role with audacity, as do both Kathryn Hahn and David Koechner, all three exceptional comedians in their own right.
Seeing Alan Thicke and James Brolin in the film, along with Wendie Mallck, reminds us that older actors may not take the stage often, but when they do, they know their stuff. While their roles are brief, they are exceptional and add the right amount of balance to the film.
All in all, while I don't see this film walking away with any Oscars, it is an entertaining adult comedy with some great lines and a few scenes so ridiculous they are priceless. The kiddies need to be in bed or out playing in the yard though. Rated a serious R of language and nudity. Oh, don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by the ever hot Gina Gershon.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
In case you are not aware of it, this makes Phillip K. Dick officially one of the most influential storytellers in the last 50 years.
In case you are not aware of it, this makes Phillip K. Dick officially one of the most influential storytellers in the last 50 years. His books have inspired such Sci Fi classics as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and now, the Adjustment Bureau. At least 19 films and television episodes have been created from his works.
The story is an interesting take on the notion there is a God in the universe who is carefully directing the actions and happenings on the planet. Here, of course, the element of 'faith' is removed and instead the Chairman makes plans and has the Adjustment Bureau to make sure the plans are kept on track. These 'agents' merely interfere when they need to, making suggestions that set actions in place. Theology is not in the plan, just a pattern to prevent mankind from becoming extinct by their own hand.
This is a different type of Sci Fi film, and it would take an actor with the flexibility of Matt Damon to play David Norris. His confident yet humble portrayal of the politician is riveting and interesting throughout. Emily Blunt portrays the blossoming ballerina with verve and appeal, sort of a cross between the focused artist and the determined woman who puts her career ahead of herself. Anthony Mackie and John Slattery work well as the adjustment agents sent to sidetrack Norris from reaching Elise.
Overall, the film moves well, offers some interesting twists, and allows us the interesting perspective of predestination without the burden of deity. Rated PG-13 for language, some sexuality, and a few brief scenes of violence, I personally can't think of a single scene that would be too intense for a ten year old. Collectible is a little early to say, but certainly a film you will want to see again.
The American President (1995)
Okay, without a doubt this is one of my favorite romantic comedies.
Okay, without a doubt this is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Michael Douglas comes off as Presidential, Annette Benning is spectacular, Martin Sheen is exceptional, and the supporting cast is marvelous. And this is all directed by Rob Reiner, the 2nd generation actor writer director who understands every aspect of film making and is not afraid to let loose with all the knowledge, power and presence required to make a first class film.
Of particular note are David Paymer, Michael J. Fox, and Anna Deavere Smith, all three exceptional character actors whose contributions add so much to the texture and tone of the film. Paymer is the perfect foil to Fox, and Anna balances them perfectly, giving a unity to the staff presence in the film.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the film is the incorporation of 'normal' events in the White House during the romance. We are not excluded or merely "clued in", but we participate in all the activities of the President, which makes the film more realistic and visceral. The flow of the film is exceptional, since there are no explosions or other violence to distract us, and the cinematography is amazing. The sets are perfect. Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexual innuendo and a few uses of profanity, this film is far from offensive in its delivery, its demeanor, or its presentation. A classic which will enhance any collection.
Out of Reach (2004)
Steven Seagal is perhaps the King of the B films, but he is also a cause driven individual who likes to make films that center around real problems.
Steven Seagal is perhaps the King of the B films, but he is also a cause driven individual who likes to make films that center around real problems. Renowned for his ability as a martial artist and his "I don't take any $h!@ from anyone." attitude, Seagal's films have unfortunately become formulaic and predictable.
Seagal plays the former agent who has become disenchanted with the agency (Which agency? Does it really matter?) Naturally, he is in the wilderness, this time on a wildlife preserve, and is sponsoring an orphaned girl in Poland. While there are some moments of emotion, most of the time Steven plays the role with a lack of luster and motivation, like he is tired of making the same film for the 100th time.
Matt Schulze is the one actor in the cast who stands out. His portrayal of Faisal, the operator of the human trafficking ring, is one dimensional, but its the right dimension. If you're going to be a bad guy, be a really bad guy. Nick Brimble's brief appearance is good, but Nick comes off as the man behind the scenes and his threat to Faisal lacks the true tone of contempt anyone would show for a man in that business.
Overall, the film is slow to the point of boredom, predictable as a clock, and just plain poorly done. Rated R for violence, language, and a few scenes in an upscale brothel. If you happen to see this one on the shelf at your local video store, I'd let it collect dust, unless you are a big fan of Seagal, and even then I would take a moment and think about it.
Suicide Kings (1997)
A couple of years back, I was looking through a copy of Maxim magazine and I found a list of 20 films saved by having Christopher Walken in them.
A couple of years back, I was looking through a copy of Maxim magazine and I found a list of 20 films saved by having Christopher Walken in them. As you have probably guessed, Suicide Kings was among the 20, actually, I believe it was number 3.
This was Peter O'Fallon's premiere film for the big screen (he has since made only one other, although he continues to direct numerous television series), and there are a lot of things that might have gone a little better. The dialog is weak in spots, the premise of a "made guy" going off with a bunch of preppy kids is a little off the wall, and the overall feel of the film drags from time to time. But that doesn't mean it is a total failure.
As a matter of fact, just the opposite. Needless to say Walken and Leary come off exceptionally well, and the remainder of the cast is believable. Johnny Galecki comes off as Johnny Galecki, which is to say his dialog and acting are better suited to his current role in Big Bang Theory than to the big screen. Jay Mohr, well, I never have like Mohr, so I can tell you his character is passable, but he never quite rises to the level needed for his part. Henry Thomas and Sean Patrick Flannery both give good performances, and are really the two character who draw your interest. Jeremy Sisto as the medical student tending to Walken is more than adequate to the role, and you can see the young actor's ability flourishing into the actor he has become.
As to the film itself, the plot, once you get past the implausible part, is good and moves pretty well, although there is a lot of exposition that seems pointless until you get to the very end. By then, unfortunately, you lose interest, unless you are a die hard Walken fan (guilty as charged).
Since I have the DVD (yes, I pulled it out of the bargain bin at WalMart), I've watched the alternative endings and listened to O'Fallon's comments, and the one that struck me the most was his comparison of the final scene of the film to one in The Usual Suspects. Hmmm. Not even close, Pete.
Rated R for violence, language, torture, and some nudity, this film is one you might want to rent just to see why television directors who are really good at their jobs should stick to television. Definitely a
Dark Shadows (2012)
Formula for a great movie? Tim Burton+Johnny Depp+Helena Bonham Carter+Michelle Pfeiffer = Terrific movie.
Now, I grant you, I was not an avid viewer of the adventures of Barnabas Collins in the 60's, although apparently every girl in my high school was. But I doubt that melodramatic soap had much relation to the film I saw, other than the names of the characters and the ever present scene of the waves crashing upon rocks on the New England shoreline.
Small matter. The film I watched was funny, spooky in a predictable sort of way, and the story was fresh. Depp once again creates a strange and unusual persona as Barnabas Collins, at once both the vicious, blood thirsty vampire and the refined gentleman of the 16th century. There are so many elements combined, the jeweled necklace reminiscent of Bela Lugosi's Dracula, the darkened eyes, the long claws of the Nosferatu, and Depp's uncanny ability to pull all these elements together to give us a comedic and enjoyable character we cannot help but like. Michelle Pfeiffer was an excellent choice as the current head of the family, a sturdy, refined and resilient woman determined to hold her head up despite the fallen state of the once powerful Collins family. Eva Green as Angelique is marvelous in her role as the evil yet business savvy woman whose only goal in life is the continuing destruction of the Collins family and reputation. The children, played perfectly by Chloe Grace Moretz and Gulliver McGrath, present the internal conflicts of the Collins, Carolyn who comes off as a very typical teenager, and David, who speaks frequently with his dead mother. Bella Heathcote, who portrays both Victoria in the present and Josette in the past, is also an excellent actress, and gives us just enough weird to balance the prim and proper appearance she first presents.
Of particular note is Helena Bonham Carter and her role as the doctor. The blatant comic relief she provides once again demonstrates her ability and depth as an actress, and one can easily see why Burton and Depp apparently enjoy working with this talented lady.
Overall, the film grabs your attention and keeps it throughout. The dialog is entertaining to the extreme, and the photography and cinematography is exceptional, as one would expect of anything from Mr. Burton.
Rated PG-13 due to the language and violence, as well as several references to sexual situations, I think this film will add nicely to any collector of the trio's work. I have one on order as soon as they are released.
Nick of Time (1995)
Johnny Depp as your average Joe C.P.A.?
Johnny Depp as your average Joe C.P.A.? Naw, say it isn't so. Isn't this the guy who rose to fame with strange robotic blades for fingers, with an eye-patch and catchy phrases, with a reputation for playing the strange and unusual? Well, the role may not be strange or unusual, but the movie certainly is. For one thing, it is extremely rare for a 90 minute movie to actually happen in 90 minutes. But Nick of Time is about the occurrences in Gene Watson's life over a span of 90 minutes.
Christopher Walken shines as the SOB cop/assassin who manipulates Depp's character, and Roma Maffia excels as his partner. I think the most interesting aspect of this film is combining two powerful character actors (Depp and Walken) across from each other.
The action is fast and non-stop, and the tension builds throughout the film. When Depp finally finds help in the form of Charles S. Dutton, a shoe shine man in the lobby of the Bonaventure, the help comes in the strangest way.
Rated R for violence and language, this is a interesting, breakneck paced film that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Meet Joe Black (1998)
Inspired by Death Takes A Holiday, a classic stage play...
Inspired by Death Takes A Holiday, a classic stage play that many of my generation read as teens for either English or Drama class in high school, this film marks, for me, the coming of age of Brad Pitt as an actor with depth. I know some people will point to A River Runs Through It, or even Seven Years In Tibet as the films where Brad showed true ability, but Death Takes a Holiday is a pivotal film where he has to reach into the unknown and his past to portray a "stranger in a strange land." and he does it with a remarkable freshness and style. As an amateur actor, I know the importance of any production is to give the audience the illusion of the first time. Brad does that beautifully in this film.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that he is surrounded by an incredible cast, lead by the incomparable Anthony Hopkins. Jake Webber demonstrates his range as well, as do both Marcia Gay Harden and Jeffrey Tambor. Somewhere beyond perfect is Claire Forlani's portrayal of Susan Parrish, the younger daughter and medical resident who is attracted to Pitt's character, first in his portrayal of the young attorney freshly arrived in the big city, and then as Death personified in Joe Black.
The plot is straightforward, the photography exceptional (try filming a sex scene without revealing any body parts that shouldn't be seen), and the sets are exquisite examples of architecture. While certainly not an action film, the film moves forward briskly, without needless exposition or character development beyond what is needed. Rated PG-13, thanks to that incredible photography, this is a film for contemplation and reflection, and offers no religious allegories to good or evil. I own a copy, and I think it will be regarded as collectible.
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Pro Football on a Friday Night with Bill Medley singing the theme song?
Timeline in another dimension...has to be. Pro Football on a Friday Night with Bill Medley singing the theme song? Halle Berry dancing in a strip club with silver pasties? Anyone wanting to assassinate Jimmy Carter? (well, maybe) Talk about your fantasy summer action films. I think Tony Scott knew exactly what he was doing when he got Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) to write this incredibly fast paced film with lots of twists and turns.
Willis and Damons work exceptionally well off each other, and its hard to tell who's the straight man and who's the comic in several of the exchanges. I'm not quite sure which characters have the shortest film time, but not many Bad Guys survive.
Bruce McGill and Kim Coates are both excellent in brief but important roles, and Taylor Negron wins the award for most villainous bad guy of the 1990's, in my opinion.
Now, if you're looking for plots that make sense, forget it. This is a shoot 'em up film where Willis gets to play the irascible grouch who is ticked off about losing his job and taking it out on the world. How bad is he? Every time someone calls him a bastard, his response is: "and then some!".
So we are not talking Oscar material, and we certainly aren't talking collectible, unless you are a big fan of Willis. (I admit it, I have a copy) Rated R for every conceivable reason in the book except maybe perversion with animals, this is definitely a see it once and enjoy the laughter and the action.
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
The fourth Tom Clancy novel to make it to the big screen, and the third actor to play Jack Ryan.
The fourth Tom Clancy novel to make it to the big screen, and the third actor to play Jack Ryan. This film falls short of expectations for several reasons. Since it is shot as a "prequel"of sorts to the previous films, Sum of all Fears seems somehow out of time with its predecessors. In this film, Jack Ryan is played by Ben Affleck, who is certainly no slouch in front of the camera. His portrayal of the the Clancy hero is good, and even meshes with the performance of Alec Baldwin in the first film of the series, Hunt for Red October. I guess my problem is Red October post dates Sum by a number of years, since in it Catherine and Jack are married with a daughter, yet the Soviets are still around. In Sum, Ryan and Cathy are still dating, only becoming engaged at the end of the film and the Soviet Union is long gone. From that standpoint alone, the timing is off sequence, which can make for a bit of a conflict for those of us who have read Clancy's novels, or seen the previous films. For the uninitiated, the film is terrific, and opens up the possibility of an entire new series (which was never pursued, apparently). Cromwell and Freeman are striking in their roles, as is Ciaran Hinds as the Russian President. The remaining cast, McGill, et. al., are intense when they need to be and absent when not needed. Which is the problem with a film like this, since you have so much action going on it is easy to get lost in it. Rated PG-13 for violence and language, the terrifying scene of a nuclear weapon going off in a crowded city is enough for all of us to consider whether or not to let the kids watch. Definitely not collectible, since the series was never continued and the film is out of sequence with the first three Clancy films. Rent it, don't buy it.
Seventeen years ago, this was a wild fantasy.
Set in the very near future, Virtuosity explores the evil fantasy of every science fiction addict by bringing an evil virtual villain out of the computer and onto the streets. Seventeen years ago, this was a wild fantasy. Today, with the way we are going with computers, not so much. But you have to enjoy the acting in this one as well as the plot, which is somewhat original. The cast is eclectic, with the powerful Russell Crowe as the virtual bad guy, a two dimensional creature bent on death and destruction, and Crowe brings a frightening believability to the role. Denzel wasn't quite the heart throb at the time, but his portrayal of Parker Barnes is excellent, and we get to feel the characters emotions and angst as he is taunted again and again by this evil construct. Louise Fletcher is the uncaring, evil woman in charge of the virtual simulations, and she is perfectly opposed by Kelly Lynch (aka Mrs. John Travolta) throughout the film. A cameo by Traci Lords and an early performance by a 10 year old Kaley Cuoco (Penny on Big Bang Theory) round out an excellent cast and make for an entertaining film. Rated R for violence, language, and disturbing content, including sex, this is one for an afternoon or evening when you are tired of the run of the mill fare. Collectible? Not necessarily, but worth a rental.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
I find this second installment of the series much more intriguing than the first.
Yes, I know. I started with Breaking Dawn Part 1 and haven't even touched upon Twilight yet. My bad, I guess, but I find this second installment of the series much more intriguing than the first. Here we have actual drama, as real as a story about vampires can be, and real conflict. Bella is a teenage girl who acts like a teenage girl, and both Jacob and Edward act like teenage boys...which is sort of a real contradiction in Edward's case. I mean, after a couple of hundred years, don't you think a man might have some modicum of maturity? But maybe being a vampire retards your common sense in favor of your hormones. Hmmm. Wait a minute, what hormones? He's dead! Oh well, I could go on and on with the contradictions in this film, but who am I to rain on anyone's parade? This is a Romeo and Juliet set in the fantasy of seclusion and passion, a love that was written in the stars. The special effects are great, especially the transformation sequences with Jacob and the rest of the tribe. After all, you knew they were werewolves, right? And the addition of Michael Sheen as Aro, the head of the Volturie and Dakota Fanning as Jane, the evil inflicter of pain with a devilish smile, brings a new dimension of mystery to the story. Rated PG-13 for violence and dramatic action, this one is safe for the teens and even the 10 year old girls who are lovers of romance. Collectible if you have the original, and my wife and daughters own all four and are anxiously awaiting the fifth. (There you go, ladies, I reviewed it.)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Groundhog Day is one of those films you either love or hate.
No in between, no take it or leave it. Everyone has an opinion, and surprisingly they all appear to be valid. I fall on the "love it" side of the equation, but I am a huge Bill Murray fan. Everyone knows a Bill Murray, the guy who wants to do something just wrong enough to get him fired and just right enough to be fun. Bill's character in this film is at the stage in his life where he is totally focused on advancing his career, regardless of what happens to those around him, which is why he cannot advance his career. Chris Elliot as Larry the cameraman is resolved to his role in life, observing the lives of others and getting his paycheck at the end of the day. Maybe Chris wanted to try a straight role for once, maybe there was only room for one comedian in the film, but Chris actually contributes little to the film. Andie MacDowell is the naive, wide eyed beginning producer who really doesn't care about her job as much as she cares about her own agenda. Only in her case, she isn't willing to step over or on people to get where she needs to be in life. Personally I like this film because it is an exhaustive study on the transition of a man through circumstance from an ass to a man. Rated PG for a couple of sexual situations and some violence, I'd say the teens would not be offended, but I doubt they will get it. Collectible if you like Murray, or just like an interesting play on Karma.
I have this flashback of Wednesday Addams about to electrocute Pugsly while playing a game called "Is there a God?"
Every time I think about this film, I have this flashback of Wednesday Addams about to electrocute Pugsly while playing a game called "Is there a God?" The premise of the film is that one could view the afterlife and come back with the ability to report on their findings. The idea that a medical school would admit or retain anyone who had these tendencies, let alone allow a sizable amount of expensive equipment to go unaccounted for, is ridiculous. Given that, I have to say the film has merit, but it is certainly not the merit of a sound plot.
The acting, however, is superb, and every cast member should be applauded for their ability to rise to the occasion in this somewhat palatable "horror" film.
Kiefer's ability to maintain his character's persona is exceptional, breaking at just the right moment in the film.
Julia Roberts certainly gives us a performance rivaling her work in previous films, as well as adding an interesting perspective to the idea of guilt and redemption.
Kevin Bacon is the glue than binds this band together, with his ability to maintain the focus of the five on the problems they are facing.
Oliver Platt provides an interesting sort of comic relief, and William Baldwin brings his boyish demeanor into play with his particular sin, although you have to wonder how that character ever got into medical school.
The sets really give us the "horror" feeling, and you have to give Joel Schumacher his props for his camera angles and framing of the these spooky rooms and buildings.
Rated R for violence, sexual references and scenes, and language, definitely not one for the younger set. Wouldn't want to give anyone ideas. Not particularly collectible.
Quigley Down Under (1990)
Granted this is not the old west, although it is set in Western Australia.
Granted this is not the old west, although it is set in Western Australia. Tom Selleck, in my opinion, was born a couple of decades late. It's too bad the romance with westerns has passed on, since Selleck could have easily been a contemporary of The Duke. His easy-going, "down home" style and charm work well in the western genre, and with the exception of Robert Duvall and Sam Elliot, I can't think of another star who fits the "cowboy" persona better. Well, maybe Eastwood.
Laura San Giacomo works beautifully as the films female love interest and comedy relief, since neither Rickman or Selleck offer us much in that way. She gives us her story in brief episodes, the returns to the "Crazy Cora" persona long enough to convince us it isn't all an act. Or is it? Alan Rickman plays what he plays best, an arrogant ass with money and power who enjoys pulling the wings off butterflies when he isn't shooting down people for the fun of it. He uses money as his weapon, and indulges himself whenever possible. Since most of his men are conscripts from the local prison, Marston is of the belief he is untouchable.
The aborigines have no lines in English, and are pretty much the window dressing of the film, although there are some interesting scenes where Selleck and the aborigines interact.
Overall, the film has plenty of flaws and lapses, but they are easy to look past when you watch the action scenes. And neither Selleck for the ladies or San Giacomo for the gentlemen are that hard to look at. Rated PG-13 for violence and sexual innuendo, the teens in the house will have no problem with the plot and the adults will enjoy the various quibbles between the principles. Not sure if this is all that collectible, but I have a copy. Like I said, I like westerns, and I like Selleck.
Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Before this, I think everyone thought about Arnold as Conan or the Terminator.
And you can hardly blame them. After all, Arnold is the muscular, imposing prototype for the majority of action heroes on the screen today. Even after Twins, Arnold had a lot of resistance to using him in non-action roles. But this role is the one that proved he could be funny and still make a great impression on the audience and fans alike.
Arnold is all the things any action hero would cringe at, polite, gentle, understanding, and even in touch with his feelings.
Pamela Reed is the perfect foil for Arnold in this lighthearted comedy with a twist. Her presence on the screen provides just the right amount of pure comedy and tomfoolery to make the less than plausible scenes work. And as usual, she ends up with all the great lines.
Penelope Ann Miller is, well, Penelope Ann Miller. Her role as the teacher across the hall from Arnold's class gives the two of them a few occasions to intermingle, but I think Reitman could have made a few more scenes work.
Linda Hunt is absolutely delightful as the principal who looks on while this brooding hulk of a man tries to tame the wild children.
Cathy Moriarity provides us with a look into the "single parent capital of the west", and while her role is brief, her input and presence is remarkable.
Overall, the film has a buoyancy that allows you to sit through the more placid moments and still want to stay in your seat to see what happens.
The real stars are the kids, of course, and I would be remiss not to mention early appearances by Odette Yustman (now Annable), Adam Wylie, and Krystle and Tiffany Mataras, to mention just a few.
Rated PG-13 for references to drugs, some language, and some violence, this film is a classic for the kids (I'd say 10 and up, but that is your call) and definitely a keeper for your collection.
Don't you wish guys like this existed?
Along the lines of Batman and The Punisher, this character is the epitome of a modern "superhero" who survives attempt after attempt to kill him and ultimately knows the game of war better than the professionals.
Mark Wahlberg is exceptionally suited to this role as the rough and tough Marine disillusioned at his country's treatment and sanctioning of "black ops" while abandoning the men who carry them out.
Michael Pena is the young FBI agent overcome by Wahlberg as he is making his escape from the men trying to kill him. Pena develops the character with finesse, so you believe the transition he undergoes from FBI agent to Swagger's assistant and contemporary.
Kate Mara (hottie #1) as Sarah Fenn is refreshing and believable, moving from confusion to commitment to rage in her efforts to help Swagger.
Rhona Mitra (hottie #2) as agent Galindo is perfectly professional and comes off as the woman who wants to keep her job while defending the efforts of Agent Memphis.
Elias Koteas is the brutal, cold and ruthless enforcer whose experiences have led him to believe he is above the law.
Both Danny Glover and Ned Beatty are impeccable as Col. Johnson and Sen. Meachem, the villains behind the scene, all more villainous because the operate under the guise of law.
Overall the film is quick and tight, with clearly defined good guys and bad guys, and the cinematography, photography, and script are a perfect fit.
Rated R for violence, language, and sexual sadism, it is sad to say the teens have probably seen this level of violence in the online games they play, but the little ones probably don't need to see it. Collectible if you like action genre films, or just like good stories.
So much for Shakespeare being the only true writer of tragedy, or was that the Greeks?
No matter, this film is a true tragedy with the roles being portrayed with an air of believability rarely witnessed in today's films.
Set in the Latino culture where men of wealth are expected to have female "friends" but their women are to remain faithful, the real drama her lies in the danger of violating this taboo. Kevin Costner's portrayal of the Navy pilot and Vietnam veteran who has spent the last twelve years of his life piloting fighter jets is remarkable. He is the man without a vision of his future, a man seeking meaning in the world and hoping to find the reality of his life. But with no purpose in his life, he quickly becomes enamored of the beautiful Madeline Stowe, the bored and unhappy wife of his "best friend", played by Anthony Quinn.
Quinn is the wealthy and dangerous maker of politicians, and an associate of many people in power, but he is also both hated and feared by the common people.
Around these three principles are Miguel Ferrer, John Leguizamo, and Sally Kirkland, an impressive trio of character actors who lend a hand to Costner in his search for Stowe.
This is not a film with a happy ending, and the question you must ask yourself at the end is who is responsible?
Rated R for violence, nudity, language, and sexual situations, this is definitely not for the teens or the children, and while I have a copy, I will leave it to you to decide to include it in your collection.
A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
Romance without the comedy....well, almost.
There are a few scenes in this love story which will bring out a few chuckles, but all in all this is a film about family, love, and joy. Keanu Reeves portrays the orphan Paul Sutton, a man who has fought to be acknowledged all his life and has returned a decorated war hero and a young man in search of himself. He has had a lot of time to think about who he is and what he wants to be. He and Debra Messing portray an often ignored segment of the American post war population, the ones who got married on the spur of the moment and were separated for four years during the war. They grew apart, and hardly know one another. So when Paul meets Victoria, he is pursuing a path unknown, a path beyond the dreams he made in his mind while separated from Betty. Aitana Sanchez-Gijon portrays the woman "in trouble", which at that time being pregnant out of wedlock was nearly cause for public stoning, and especially in a strict Roman Catholic family. Her performance, along with the stellar performances of Anthony Quinn as Victoria's grandfather and Giancarlo Giannini as Victoria's father, make this romance a stunning piece of true romance. Every scene, every nuance of the film presses you deeper and deeper into the feelings of the characters, and the scenery and photography are incredibly breathtaking. Rated PG-13 for sexual themes and war scenes, this is a film for Date Night with your significant other. Collectible, absolutely, if for no other reason than to have evidence of Keanu's occasional good sense in accepting a role.
Laws of Attraction (2004)
Delightful and wonderfully romantic. Is that too much?
Seriously, you have here the perfect love story in the perfect setting with the most perfect couple one can think of, if you are thinking of true Irishmen and Irish descendants. Pierce Brosnan is witty, charming, cute "as per Frances Fisher in the film", and above all, incredibly gifted in this role. When you watch him here, you are reminded of the films of David Niven or Cary Grant, and that is no mean comparison coming from someone who sorely laments the lost of such talents. Julianne Moore comes up to Pierce brilliantly, and you could see this film occurring thirty years ago, starring Grant and Hepburn. Julianne's character is the perfect foil for Brosnan's in this delightful duel of the sexes. Parker Posey and Michael Sheen are the typical young adults caught up in their success, and going through a rough patch of the "I'm so neglected" stage of marriage, which the two of them carry off wonderfully. The maraschino cherry on this particular confection is the wonderful appearance of the beautiful Frances Fisher, than lovely lady who has the cheekbones of Venus de Milo and the accompanying smile. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language, I personally recommend this as a film for you and that significant other when the kids are in bed, or for Date Night.
Other People's Money (1991)
"Larry the Liquidator" is a man on a mission.
About four years earlier, Gordon Gecko became the most hated man in America, the epitome of greed and corruption. Danny DeVito, that diminutive tyrant from Taxi, manages to give us a fresh perspective on the successful, honest Wall Street investment type. Lawrence lives well, a posh NYC townhouse, a valet/cook/chauffeur, and a corner office in his own firm on Wall Street. This is a side of DeVito unseen up to this film, and it shows you just how versatile he can be. He is the romantic leading man in this delightful study of human interaction, and he carries it off beautifully. Penelope Ann Miller, that ravishing redhead with the lithe body and delicate bone structure, plays the modern, independent woman who has battled her way to the top and knows how to play the game. She is forceful with just the right amount of submissiveness, prideful with just the right balance of humility, and classically beautiful in a very subtle, yet Venus de Milo way. Gregory Peck delivers a stunning performance as the aging, stubborn, factory manager who refuses to accept the advice of others, sort of a mortal Yoda with no ability to see into the future. Dean Jones departs from his ever bubbly Disney persona to deliver a serious role of the president of a company with an uncertain future. Piper Laurie, well, there is a very short list of desirable women in the world, but she is definitely on it. She comes across as the ever present cheerleader, the woman behind the man. Overall, the plot is fast paced and entertaining, with plenty of DeVito personality to make this one of the finest romantic comedies to ever hit the screen. Rated R for language and sex-related dialog, I hardly think the teens in your household will be offended or negatively impacted by this delightful film. Definitely a collectible for you connoisseurs of fine romantic comedy, and fans of DeVito.
The Double (2011)
Lots of turns and twists in this fast paced tale of spies and espionage.
Richard Gere and Topher Grace work well together in this excellently crafted spy thriller. The entire cast works as an ensemble to present a tale worthy of your interest. Without revealing too much, it is safe to tell you this story deals with what happened to the agents in the field at the fall of the Soviet Union and whatever became of the KGB. Odette Annable is remarkable as Topher's wife, and gives us the impression of the clean cut, all American wife supporting her FBI husband. Martin Sheen is, as always, remarkable in his portrayal of the FBI Director. Overall, the cinematography and photography are crisp and clear, the plot is excellent, and the film is an exceptional effort to keep your attention. Rated PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, and language, I can safely recommend this one to the parents for a good family film, as long as the little ones are in bed. Be prepared for the last 10 minutes of the film, you won't see it coming. Collectible, too soon to tell, but it ranks right up there with Bond and Bourne.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Okay, so not the most original plot, but some nice twists and turns.
Matthew McConaughey gives a good performance in this courtroom drama, and is supported by an incredibly able cast. Veteran character actors William H. Macy and John Leguizamo add class and excitement with excellent portrayals of the investigator and the referring attorney. The remaining cast rises to their level, so we have a cast of professionals giving us a polished and entertaining production. The fact that two of the most beautiful ladies in film are included doesn't hurt. Marisa Tomei manages to keep her clothing on (unlike The Wrestler) in spite of a torrid love scene with McConaughey. And the absolutely beautiful Frances Fisher is incredible as the domineering mother of the accused who is footing the bill through her son. Kudos to Trace Adkins for a small but well done performance as the leader of the motorcycle gang who has Haller on retainer. (I guess no one is satisfied with just being an excellent singer and performer anymore.) Overall, the film is fast paced, well edited, and entertaining, exactly what a good movie should be. Rated R for violence, sexual innuendo, and language, this one is for the older teens and the adults. Too much explaining for the rug rats. Collectible? Not particularly, unless you are a fan of McConaughey, Tomei, or good courtroom drama.