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The Foreigner (2017)
Jackie Chan Vs. Pierce Brosnan
Jackie Chan is a man seeking revenge for the death of his college age daughter at the hands of an IRA terrorist organization. He is a restaurant owner with a past with US Special Forces with skills at martial arts and explosives. Pierce Brosnan is Liam, an ex-IRA member who has become a prime minister and liaison attempting to keep the peace with his British bosses. His fellow freedom fighters do not agree with his peaceful tactics with their oppressors. Most of the movie involves a cat and mouse game between Chan and Brosnan as they look for the people responsible for the bombings. The two stars have a good screen presence and although the story is a bit complicated, it works. The twists and turns continue right up to the final scene.
Better Watch Out (2016)
A bad seed boy, Luke, perfectly played by Levi Miller, is a soon to be thirteen year-old who has a huge crush on his seventeen year-old babysitter, Ashley (Olivia DeJinge). He swigs champagne from a bottle while watching horror movies with Ashley. She fights off his advances and he becomes antisocial very quickly. His chaperon soon makes her his captive as he plots with a school mate to make her life miserable. He lures Ashley's boyfriend over for some fun. The horny boy shows up and does not get a reward for his appearance. It goes from bad to worse as Luke uses all kinds of mind games against his guests. The script is funny as hell and Miller has a devilish look which reminded me of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. A big thumbs up and a solid 7.5 for Better Watch Out.
Sweet Virginia (2017)
If you watch this film, be sure to have subtitles available because the actors constantly mumble their lines. It is beyond annoying. Jon Berenthal sleepwalks as if sedated with a massive dose of thorazine. The rest of the cast seem a little bit less asleep. The story is not all that interesting and in the end I just did not care in the least what happened to anyone in the movie. The only saving grace is the short ninety minute running time. I can usually stick with crime stories that have a sense of humor. Sweet Virginia has no wit or wisdom within the script. There is no reason whatsoever to watch this snooze fest.
A World of Cats
Istanbul is a city where cats seem to rule the streets. This documentary follows several of the furry felines as they navigate the neighborhood in search of food and affection from their human friends and caretakers. The people are secondary as the kitty's are the stars of the film. Their personalities are as unique as the men and women who help them make it through each day. The camera work is excellent, as many of the shots are from ground level and show the world from a cat's eye view. Kedi only runs a brief seventy nine minutes and I hope that it is one of the nominees for best documentary at this year's Academy Awards.
The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
Samuel L Jackson Rules
Samuel L Jackson plays a hit man who is in jail while a Russian dictator is on trial at the Hague after killing several opponents. Every witness against him conveniently disappears. Jackson agrees to testify to free his wife who is also in prison. Salma Hayek spews as many mother f******* as her husband, sometimes in Spanish. and it is hilarious. Ryan Reynolds is a professional body guard who winds up escorting Jackson to the trial while being shot at by Russian gangsters. The violence is unending and Reynolds and Jackson are a great team. The chemistry is as good as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover from the Lethal Weapon films. I hope that a sequel is made as I absolutely loved The Hit Man's Bodyguard.
Gerald's Game (2017)
A Stephen King soap opera
Stephen King's books are hit or miss when adapted and this one is a big miss. I have not read the book yet, but I have read many of the early stuff, from Carrie to Misery. Shawshank Redemption is the best film, closely followed by Dead Zone and The Green Mile. A woman and her husband have a little getaway to try to rekindle their failing marriage and the man handcuffs his better half to the bed. He pops a blue pill and promptly drops dead. Pfizer may have a lawsuit on its' hands here. The following hour and a half are a drag as the woman has long and tedious conversations with her dead husband and with a version of herself. A bad relationship with dad are shown through flashbacks and none of it works. I was bored to tears.
This is not Vladimir Nabokov's classic novel turned into Stanley Kubrick's great film. Instead we have Rooney Mara(Una) as a late twenty something woman confronting a 50-ish man at his factory job somewhere in England. Flashbacks show a preteen Una becoming involved first as a friend and shortly later as a sexual conquest of her neighbor Ray. He has changed his name to Peter after a four year jail stint and is now married to an age appropriate woman. Una wants to know why he took advantage of her youthful innocence. He proclaims that it was true love and Una and the audience will be quite skeptical of his intentions. Several teary eyed scenes follow and the ending is not all that compelling. Rooney is believable as the disturbed young lady and she has no problem removing her clothes. As referenced earlier, Una does not come close to the depth and quality of "Lolita."
Most Beautiful Island (2017)
I do not know how to categorize this film. A thirty something immigrant from Spain is escaping her life there after a tragic accident has killed her daughter. Her mother asks her to return home, but she decides to remain in New York City. She works odd jobs, including one as a babysitter to two spoiled brats. A Russian friend informs her of a job paying $2,000 just to attend a private party and blend in while looking pretty in a black mini skirt. If it is too good to be true, and you know the rest. She shows up at the party and it does not go well. The last 15 minutes or so are quite disturbing. There is no way to describe it without spoiling the movie and so I won't. I will warn of some brief full nudity. The acting is good and it only runs eighty minutes. NY City provides a gritty background which works well for the movie.
Baby Driver (2017)
Baby Driver is One LOUD Movie
This may be the loudest soundtrack in the history of movies. Baby is a getaway driver who suffers from a hearing problem and must constantly listen to music through an IPOD to distract the ringing in his ears. It opens with a bank robbery and police chase as Baby manages to lose the law in a Subaru STI. They picked the right car, as I had the opportunity to drive one a few years ago and was a blast. I only had it up to 115 MPH. Newcomer Ansel Elgort is excellent in the lead role and the supporting cast, including an uncredited Jamie Foxx are very good. The chase scenes are typical Hollywood stuff, but the script has plenty of humor, with Kevin Spacey given the best lines as a ruthless crime boss. So far it has not been a good year, but this film is on my early 10 best list along with Get Out, Wind River and War for the Planet of the Apes. I hope for more to add in the last two months of 2017.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Keanu is Back
Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick and it is pretty much the same as the first film. Wick is enjoying his retirement when he is forced back into a world of unending violence. A Mafia kingpin who Wick owes a favor, calls in his marker and this leads to a long string of killing. Wick has a dog with no name and he is run over, stabbed, and shot on his journey. The doggy remains unscathed. Our hero seems to be a superman, as he survives against unbelievable odds. Once again, the viewer must leave logic at the door when watching this live action, cartoon like movie. Just sit back and take the ride for two hours.