REVIEW: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

CAST

Bill Murray (Lost In Translation)
Laura Linney (Sully)
Samuel West (Van Helsing)
Olivia Coleman (Hot Fuzz)
Elizabeth Marvel (A Most Violent Year)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Elizabeth Wilson (Catch-22)
Andrew Havill (Dad’s Army)
Martin McDougall (Green Zone)

Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)In spring 1939, Sara Delano, the mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt, asks his sixth cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley to visit the ill President of the United States at their country estate in Hyde Park, New York. Although Daisy and Roosevelt had not seen each other for years, the distant relatives form a romantic relationship, and Roosevelt often asks Daisy to visit Hyde Park when he stays with his mother. Daisy becomes one of the several women close to Roosevelt, including Sara; Missy LeHand, the president’s secretary; and Eleanor, the president’s wife. Despite his power, the president is often unable to control the other women; the quiet, shy Daisy is his confidante, and he tells her that Top Cottage will be their shared refuge after his presidency.In June 1939, King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visit the United States, during which they stay with the Roosevelts at Hyde Park. The British hope that the visit will improve the chances of American support during the future war with Germany. George—who is king because his brother Edward VIII abdicated—is nervous, because of the importance of the visit, because he stutters, and because of having to eat a hot dog for the first time at a picnic in his honor. Roosevelt reassures George by citing his own inability to walk, and observes that others do not see their handicaps because “it’s not what they want to see”. The president tells the king that he hopes to overcome Americans’ reluctance to help Britain.Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)The night the king and queen arrive, Daisy discovers LeHand is having an affair with Roosevelt. LeHand tells a shocked Daisy that their respective relationships with the president are not his only ones, mentioning Dorothy Schiff and Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, and that Daisy must accept sharing Roosevelt with other women. At the picnic the next day the king successfully eats a hot dog for a photo op, and Daisy, in a voiceover, states that the visit helped the two countries form a Special Relationship. Daisy rejects Roosevelt’s requests to see her until he calls on her in person; they reconcile, and Daisy accepts her role as one of the president’s mistresses. As years pass, Daisy watches Roosevelt become frail as a wartime leader; nonetheless everyone, she says, “still [looked] to him, still seeing whatever it was they wanted to see”.Bill Murray and Laura Linney in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)Hyde Park on Hudson had its moments. I liked seeing King George VI eat hotdogs, the Queen smoke cigarettes, and FDR go swimming in a turn of the century bathing suit. However this film could have been so much better. It felt like Nelson forgot about his own plot. The gaps he left were huge and left me wondering why there were so many lose ends. The script needs to be beefed up and full cooked. There’s still pink in this meat.

 

REVIEW: ZOMBIELAND

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Amber Heard (Machete Kills)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)

the-favourite-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000Right from the start Zombieland is in your face. The opening sequence alone is just great and recalls Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide. Also, it doesn’t try to copy any of the other countless zombie movies. It’s a very direct film that doesn’t waste time with needless character buildup, that would only slow the pacing. Characterization is achieved in between humor and action sequences and that approach works well. Zombieland starts by introducing the overly cautious and neurotic, Columbus. Columbus is the quiet geeky guy who probably spent his high school years over thinking every detail and was quite possibly bullied by jocks. Now in a zombie infested world, he is forced to become more manly and athletic when taking on the undead. Then there’s Tallahassee, who is the gung ho bad ass. I think every zombie movie needs a Tallahassee type because they are so much fun to watch. Harrelson really steals the show in Zombieland. I don’t think I’ve seen him this good since Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. He looks like he could have fun in any situation in life pre or post zombie infected. I like the scene where Tallahassee is standing next to a bright yellow Hummer and just randomly firing a machine gun.


Next up are the manipulating sisters, Little Rock and Wichita, who are both cute and annoying. I was annoyed with their characters at first and as their characters developed they became a little more tolerable. You also need sisters like this in a post zombie world because they will keep you on your toes. They are fun in their own ways and have both survived tough times together. Their strong bond makes them believable and you accept them for who they are.


zombieland-bill-murrayWith all the wonder characters and backgrounds aside, this is really about killing zombies. Who doesn’t want to roam America’s highways shooting zombies? It’s the ultimate road movie, as the four travel together and fight hundreds of zombies along the way. As much fun as that is, the ending sequence at the amusement park, cranks up the fun a lot higher. The combination of rides, amusement park games, and shooting zombies is very entertaining. Director Ruben Fleischer does a tremendous job directing action in the last half of Zombieland. That’s what these movies are all about to me.MV5BMTQ1MjUxNDIxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjgyODYxNw@@._V1_

The cheap thrills of just going for it and taking out all that pent up aggressive shooting, stabbing, running over, hammering, and beating the undead any way you can. Overall Zombieland is a lot of fun and a good way to kick off  a Halloween season.

REVIEW: CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2000)

CAST

Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Lucy Liu (Kill BIll)
Bill Murray (Groundhog Day)
Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Kelly Lynch (Road House)
Tim Curry (IT)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Matt LeBlanc (Friends)
LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea)
Tom Green (Road Trip)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
John Forsythe (Scrooged)
Kevin Grevioux (Underworld)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)

Drew Barrymore in Charlie's Angels (2000)Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz) Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu) are the “Angels”, three talented, tough, attractive women who work as private investigators together for an unseen millionaire named Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe) Charlie uses a speaker in his offices to communicate with the Angels, and his assistant Bosley (Bill Murray) works with them directly when needed.Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels (2000)Charlie assigns the Angels to find Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), a software genius who created a revolutionary voice-recognition system and heads his own company, Knox Enterprises. Knox is believed to have been kidnapped by Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), who runs a communications-satellite company called Redstar. The Angels infiltrate a party held by Corwin and spot a suspicious-looking man that they had previously seen from surveillance videos of Knox’s kidnapping. Dubbing him the “Thin Man” (Crispin Glover), the Angels chase him down and fight him; he gets away but the Angels find Knox, safely held nearby.Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels (2000)After the Angels reunite Knox with his business partner Vivian Wood (Kelly Lynch) Charlie explains that they must determine whether the Thin Man has stolen Knox’s voice-recognition software. The Angels infiltrate Redstar headquarters, fool the security system, and plant a device in the central computer that will enable them to explore it remotely. They retire for the night after giving Bosley the laptop computer that communicates with the Redstar computer. Dylan takes up Knox’s offer to spend the night with him, and they end up having sex. Afterwards, Knox betrays her; simultaneously, attacks are made on Natalie and Alex, Bosley is captured by Vivian, and Corwin is murdered by the Thin Man. Knox tells Dylan his kidnapping was all faked to get the Angels to help him access the Redstar satellite network. He plans to use it along with his voice recognition software to find and kill Charlie, who Knox asserts killed his father in the Vietnam War.The Angels are back on the chain gangDylan escapes and reunites with Natalie and Alex, all who survived their attacks. They approach Charlie’s offices just as the building explodes. They find a radio transmitter that Bosley is able to communicate through via a radio transmitter implanted in a tooth. Bosley provides enough information of his place of captive to allow Natalie to deduce its location, an abandoned lighthouse. With help from Dylan’s current boyfriend Chad (Tom Green) the Angels stealthily approach the lighthouse. They are too late from stopping Knox from determining Charlie’s location, but they rescue Bosley and defeat Vivian, the Thin Man, and some henchmen before Knox blows up the lighthouse. Knox flies an attack helicopter towards Charlie’s house, while Bosley helps the Angels board it. Alex reprograms the missile to have it shoot backwards, which blows up the helicopter and kills Knox while all of the Angels land safely together on the beach.The Angels get ready to rumble...Seeing the opportunity to finally meet Charlie in person, they enter the beach house that Knox had targeted the missile at, but Charlie has already left. He remotely congratulates the Angels on a job well done through another speaker, and treats them and Bosley to a vacation. Charlie tells them that Knox’s father was undercover; however, he was discovered and he was killed by someone else but not Charlie. When he speaks to the Angels unseen again by telephone on the beach, they ask if they could ever meet him in person. Dylan then suspects that she might be seeing him nearby talking into a cell phone, but she doesn’t tell the group.Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Bob Stephenson in Charlie's Angels (2000)There’s no intellectual challenges made in this movie’s plot, and that’s how it should be; the characters are only slightly more fleshed-out than any of the ones from the TV show, and that’s also not a bad thing – if you put too much seriousness into this kind of film, you wind up killing the roaring-good times to be had. What really makes the film work is the charisma ( & physical charms )of the 3 leading ladies, combined with well-choreographed action sequences and the tongue-in-cheek script. If you enjoy Diaz, Barrymore & Liu ( not to mention Bill Murray )when they’re on the screen, you’ll love this flick.

 

REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (The Boss)
Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
Kate McKinnon (Masterminds)
Leslie Jones (Trainwreck)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Neil Casey (Fort Tilden)
Andy Garcia (The Unsaid)
Cecily Strong (The Bronze)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Michael K. Williams (Gone Baby Gone)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Katie Dippold (The Heat)
Jessica Chaffin (Spy)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Dan Aykroyd (Evolution)
Ernie Hudson (The Wrong Guys)
Sigourney Weaver (Galaxy Quest)
Annie Potts (Pretty In Pink)
Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)
Justin Kirk (Goats)

Physicists Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) are co-authors of a research book which posits the existence of paranormal phenomena such as ghosts. Erin has disowned the work and become a professor at Columbia University, while Abby continues to study the paranormal at a technical college with eccentric engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Erin learns Abby has republished the book, threatening her bid for tenure at Columbia. She reunites with Abby and, in exchange for Abby removing the book from publication, reluctantly agrees to assist her and Jillian in a paranormal investigation.

The group witness a malevolent ghost (Bess Rous), renewing Erin’s belief in the paranormal. However, a video of their investigation is posted online, and Erin is denied tenure. She joins Abby and Jillian’s project, but when a new institute director learns its nature, he fires them. They open an office above a Chinese restaurant and call themselves the “Conductors of the Metaphysical Examination.” They build equipment to study and capture ghosts, and hire dimwitted but handsome Kevin Beckman (Chris Hemsworth) as a receptionist.

MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) witnesses a ghost in a subway line and contacts the group. They document the ghost and successfully test Jillian’s proton containment laser, but their findings are again dismissed. They continue to develop their technology and advertise their services as what pundits have dubbed the “Ghostbusters”. Patty joins the team, providing historical knowledge of New York City and a repurposed hearse, “Ecto-1”.

Unbeknownst to them, the ghosts are being summoned by devices built by Rowan North (Neil Casey), an occultist and mad scientist attempting to bring about the “apocalypse”. When Rowan plants another device at a live music venue, the Ghostbusters are called in and capture the ghost in front of the audience. When supernatural debunker Dr. Martin Heiss (Bill Murray) challenges the Ghostbusters, the incensed Erin releases the ghost as proof; it throws Heiss out a window before escaping. The Ghostbusters are brought to see Mayor Bradley (Andy García) and his loyal secretary, Jennifer Lynch (Cecily Strong), who reveals that the city and the Department of Homeland Security are aware of New York’s ghost problem. While privately supporting the team’s work, the mayor’s office and DHS publicly denounce them as fraudsters.

The Ghostbusters realize Rowan is planting his devices along ley lines which intersect at the Mercado Hotel in Times Square, a site with a history of paranormal activity, and discover Rowan building a portal to the ghost dimension in the hotel basement. To avoid capture, Rowan deliberately electrocutes himself to death, after which Jillian deactivates the portal. Erin discovers a copy of her and Abby’s book among Rowan’s possessions, and realizes that he killed himself so that he could become a ghost and command a spirit army. Rowan returns as a powerful ghost, possessing Abby and then Kevin. As Kevin, he opens the portal and releases hundreds of ghosts. The police and DHS are quickly subdued, but the Ghostbusters fight through the army of ghosts to reach the portal.

Rowan takes the form of the ghost in the Ghostbusters’ logo, grows to enormous height, and attacks the city. The team devises a plan to use Ecto-1’s nuclear reactor to close the portal and return the ghosts to their own dimension. The plan succeeds, but Rowan drags Abby into the portal with him; Erin leaps into the portal and rescues her. The mayor’s office agrees to secretly fund the Ghostbusters’ research while continuing to publicly denounce them as frauds. With new funding, the Ghostbusters move to a better facility, a disused fire house. Despite the mayoral smear campaign, New York lights up with thanks and tributes to the Ghostbusters. In a post credits scene, Patty listens to a recording of a ghost encounter and asks the others if they have heard of Zuul.

Don’t listen to the trolls. This was a great re-make of the original classic. The leading ladies did a great job and introduced their own personalities to the parts. The story includes some interesting backstory of the character’s history and how they met. The added details make the characters more interesting. Kate did a fantastic job with the “mad scientist” role. The cameos by some familiar faces was an added bonus. But it would’ve been nice for Slimer to have a bigger role. Overall the movie was funny and entertaining. Would definitely recommend it.

REVIEW: CITY OF EMBER

 

CAST

Saoirse Ronan (The Host)
Harry Treadaway (Honeymoon)
Bill Murray (Zombieland)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Tim Robbins (Antitrust)
Marianne Jean-Baptiste (The Cell)
Liz Smith (The Tunnel)
Mary Kay Place (Sweet Home Alabama)
Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Ian McElhinney (Krypton)
Simon Kunz (Goldeneye)

 

MV5BMTYzNzA3MzQ0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTIwMTU3MQ@@._V1_In the midst of an unspecified catastrophe, an underground city is constructed to shelter a large group of survivors, with secret instructions to future generations in a small box timed to open 200 years later. This box is entrusted to the mayor of the City of Ember. Each mayor, in turn, passes the box on to his or her successor. Over time, the significance of the box is forgotten, and the succession is broken when the seventh mayor dies before revealing the importance of the box. The box opens at the allotted time, but goes unnoticed. 41 years after the box opens, Ember’s electric generator begins to fail, and the reserves of canned goods and light bulbs are depleted.MV5BYjljZjRkNzMtMjVkNy00NGE0LWEwZWMtNTI2NTQ0ZmNhODg0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzExMzc0MDg@._V1_At a rite of passage for all graduating students, Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) stands before the students as they choose their occupations by lottery. Protagonist Lina (Saoirse Ronan), who dreams of becoming a messenger, is assigned to be a “Pipeworks Laborer” under the technician Sul (Martin Landau), and her classmate Doon (Harry Treadaway), the son of Loris ‘Barrow’ Harrow (Tim Robbins), is assigned “Messenger”; whereupon the two secretly exchange assignments. At home, Lina finds the timed box, and enlists Doon’s help to decipher its contents.MV5BMTY0NzkxMjUxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQ3MTY4NA@@._V1_Gradually, they learn that the document is a set of instructions toward an exit from the city; and later, discover that Mayor Cole has been hoarding canned food in a secret vault. When they report the theft, they are arrested and the mayor attempts to take the box from Lina; but a blackout allows Lina to escape. Now fugitives from the mayor’s police, the pair obtain Poppy (Amy Quinn and Catherine Quinn), Lina’s 4 year old sister, and escape with the help of Sul, along a subterranean river. Meanwhile, the Mayor turns against his accomplice Looper, and locks himself in his vault, only to be devoured by a gigantic mole. Lina, Doon, and Poppy reach the surface, where they witness the sunrise; and later tie a message of their discovery to a rock and drop it into the city, where it is found by Loris.MV5BY2M2YTcwYWUtOWRlOC00OWJlLWFlMmUtYmFkYzY4NjRhNjEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjY0NzQxNjk@._V1_Saoirse Ronan and Harry Treadaway give convincing performances in their lead positions and very rarely give attention to their ages. Sure enough, their roles aren’t the most demanding of jobs, but despite their characters’ underwritten nature both fulfil the requirements of leads nicely and with enough conviction to consistently carry the film forward. Of course, it’s always good to have a familiar face around, and Bill Murray, playing the obnoxious and gluttonous slob Mayor Cole, is the one to provide such a role. Murray, although arguably underused as far as his talents go, does well to establish a character that nobody is necessarily going to warm to, and uses whatever screen time he has adequately to further the movie on and to back up his lead performers. In the end however, all these elements simply come together to create one thing; an adventure. As just that, City of Ember is a very strong and convincing effort from director Gil Kenan who makes his live-action debut here.

REVIEW: THE MONUMENTS MEN

CAST
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Matt Damon (Green Zone)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
John Goodman (Red State)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Hugh Bonneville (Blow Dry)
Bob Balaban (License To Wed)
Dimitri Leonidas (Sinbad)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
In 1943 during World War II, the Allies are making good progress driving back the Axis powers in Italy. However, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) persuades the American President that victory will have little meaning if the artistic treasures of Western civilization are lost in the fighting. Stokes is directed to assemble an Army unit nicknamed the “Monuments Men”, comprising seven museum directors, curators, and art historians to both guide Allied units and search for stolen art to return it to its rightful owners.
Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), a curator in occupied France, is forced to assist Nazi officers like Viktor Stahl (Justus von Dohnányi) to oversee the theft of art for either Adolf Hitler’s proposed Führermuseum in Linz, or as the personal property of senior commanders like Herman Goering. While she is nearly arrested for helping her Maquis brother unsuccessfully recapture such items, all seems lost when she discovers that Stahl is taking all of her gallery’s contents to Germany as the Allies approach Paris. Simone runs to the railyard to confront Stahl, but can only watch as Stahl departs aboard the train carrying the precious cargo, standing defiantly as he futilely fires his pistol at her.
Stokes’s unit finds its work frustrated by its own side’s officers in the field, who refuse to endanger their own troops for the sake of his mission. James Granger (Matt Damon) finds that Simone will not cooperate with those whom she suspects want to confiscate the stolen art for their own country. The unit splits up to cover more ground, with varying degrees of success. Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) of the British Army sneaks into Bruges, which is still occupied by the Germans, at night to try to save a statue of the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. He is killed attempting to stop Colonel Wegner from taking it away.
Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) and Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) learn that a Belgian panel set of religious artwork (the Van Eyck altarpiece) was removed by the priests of Ghent Cathedral for safekeeping, but their truck was stopped and the panels taken. Eventually, purely by chance, they find and arrest Viktor Stahl, hiding as a farmer, when they identify the paintings in his house as masterpieces, at least one stolen from the Rothschild Collection. Walter Garfield (John Goodman) and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) get lost in the country side and blunder into a firefight. Clermont is mortally wounded and dies when Garfield is unable to find medical help. Meanwhile, Simone reconsiders when Granger shows her the Nero Decree, which orders the destruction of all German possessions if Hitler dies or Germany falls, and sees Granger return a painting looted from a Jewish family sent to the death camps to its rightful place in their empty home. She provides a comprehensive ledger she has compiled that provides valuable information on the stolen art and the rightful owners.
Even as the team learns that the artwork is being stored in various mines and castles, it also learns that it must now compete against the Soviet Union, which is seizing artwork as war reparations. Meanwhile, Colonel Wegner is systematically destroying whole art caches. Eventually, the team has some success, as it discovers at least one mine with over 16,000 art pieces, as well as grotesque finds like barrels of gold teeth extracted from victims of the death camps. In addition, it also captures the entire gold reserves of the Nazi German national treasury.
Finally, the team finds a mine in Austria that appears to have been demolished. However, the team discovers that only the entrances were blocked by the locals in order to prevent the Nazis destroying the contents. The team evacuates as much artwork as possible, including the sculpture Jeffries died trying to defend, before the Soviets arrive to take control of what is to become part of the Soviet zone of occupation.
Stokes reports back to President Truman that the team has recovered vast quantities of artwork and various other culturally significant items. As he requests to stay in Europe to oversee further searching and restoration, Truman asks Stokes if his efforts were worth the lives of the men that he lost. Stokes replies that they were. Truman then asks if, thirty years from now, anyone will remember that these men died for a piece of art. In 1977, the elderly Stokes (Nick Clooney), replies “Yeah,” while he takes his grandson to see Michelangelo’s Madonna sculpture.
The story is real and the war ending and moving towards Russia. It is the search for the Art which the Nazis have stolen and the band of men who are searching for it. The main cast are well known especially George Clooney who has also produced the film. The film isn’t fast but jogs along at a reasonable pace, interspersed with humour. Finding the precious pieces of Art through Bruges and northern Germany made me as thrilled as it did the Monument Men. This is a film that we will watch a lot.

REVIEW: LOST IN TRANSLATION

CAST

Bill Murray (Zombieland)
Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Anna Faris (Mom)

Bob Harris, an aging American movie star, arrives in Tokyo to film an advertisement for Suntory whisky. Charlotte, a young college graduate, is left in her hotel room by her husband, John, a celebrity photographer on assignment in Tokyo. Charlotte is unsure of her future with John as she feels he is more interested in his celebrity models, particularly an American actress named Kelly, than her. Bob’s own 25-year marriage is tired as he goes through a midlife crisis.

One night, after a long photo shoot, Bob retreats to the hotel bar. Charlotte, sitting at a table with John and friends, notices Bob and has a waiter take him a cup of peanuts from her table. Bob and Charlotte have brief encounters each night at the hotel bar; eventually Charlotte invites Bob to meet with some local friends of hers. The two bond through their adventures in Tokyo, experiencing the differences between Japanese and American culture and their own generations.

On the penultimate night of his stay, Bob attracts the attention of the hotel jazz singer. Charlotte arrives at his room to go out for breakfast and discovers the woman in his room, leading to an argument over lunch. Later that night, during a fire alarm at the hotel, Bob and Charlotte reconcile and express how they will miss each other as they make one more trip back to the hotel bar.

The following morning, Bob is set to return to the United States. He tells Charlotte goodbye at the hotel lobby and watches her walk back to the elevator. In a taxi to the airport, Bob sees Charlotte on a crowded street and gets out and goes to her. He embraces Charlotte and whispers something in her ear. The two share a kiss, say goodbye and Bob departs.

Coppola has risen leaps and bounds with this incredible second film, a film that works through visual poetry where silence can speak volumes, an intensity in its characters and location, and its incredibly honest subtlety in the interaction between its characters. In its closing, just as in life, the leads don’t solve all their problems and yet because of all they have shared, they feel a little better anyway, and in that profoundly bittersweet melancholia that runs throughout the film, so should the audience too.