REVIEW: PENELOPE

Starring

Christina Ricci (Lizzie Borden Took an Ax)
James McAvoy (Glass)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice)
Reese Witherspoon (This Means War)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Ronni Ancona (Skins)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Simon Woods (Starter for 10)
Nigel Havers (Pope Joan)
Burn Gorman (Pacific Rim)
Russell Brand (Army of One)
John Voce (Crush)
Lenny Henry (Chef!)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

Christina Ricci in Penelope (2006)Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) is a young woman from a wealthy family. What sets her apart is that she has the ears and nose of a pig. Generations ago, an embittered and vengeful witch (Michael Feast) placed a curse on the Wilhern family after their son had an affair with his daughter, one of the Wilhern servants. He was talked out of marrying her by his arrogant and disapproving family, abandoning her and married someone of his own status. The heartbroken and pregnant servant girl then threw herself off a cliff. Furious, the witch then cursed the Wilherns so that the next daughter to be born into the affluent family would have the face of a pig. For five generations, the Wilherns produced only sons, until Penelope was born with her “ugly” face, stricken with the curse. It is said that the curse can only be lifted if ‘one of her own kind’ learns to love her, which her parents interpret as meaning that Penelope must marry a man of noble birth.Christina Ricci and James McAvoy in Penelope (2006)A tabloid reporter named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) begins stalking the family to get a photograph of the infant Penelope resulting in Penelope’s mother Jessica (Catherine O’Hara) blinding his right eye after he breaks into their house. Then Jessica and Franklin (Richard E. Grant) decide to fake their daughter’s death and cloister her away in their mansion where Penelope spends her life immersing herself in intellectual pursuits such as literature, horticulture, and music. When Penelope becomes an adult, her parents attempt to introduce her to possible suitors, hoping that one of them will fall in love with her and break the curse, with the help of a matchmaker named Wanda (Ronni Ancona). Unfortunately, every man who lays eyes on her flees in terror, including Edward Humphrey Vanderman III (Simon Woods), a spoiled, arrogant snob who finds her repulsive (even enough to believe she has fangs). Normally, Jessica and Franklin’s butler Jake (also Michael Feast) catches them before they leave in order to force them to sign an agreement that they will not discuss Penelope’s appearance, but he fails to catch Vanderman.Christina Ricci in Penelope (2006)Vanderman’s panicked flight from the Wilhern house results in a newspaper article dubbing him insane. To redeem his name, Vanderman decides to team up with Lemon (who is now wearing an eyepatch over his right eye) in an effort to get a photograph of Penelope. The two of them track down Max Campion (James McAvoy), a young blue blood disowned by his family because of his gambling problem and in desperate need of money. Lemon and Vanderman pay Max to pose as a new suitor for Penelope, hiding a camera in his jacket so that he can steal a picture of her. After talking to Penelope through a one-way mirror, Max is unexpectedly caught off guard by her sweetness and charm, and Penelope also trusts him enough to show him her face. Though Max is not frightened of Penelope, he accidentally triggers the camera in his jacket, which causes him to retreat.Christina Ricci in Penelope (2006)A heartbroken Penelope believes that Max too finds her monstrous and instead begs him to marry her simply for her status and in order to break the curse, even promising to kill herself if the marriage doesn’t break the curse. Max, though obviously torn, insists that he cannot marry Penelope. He then calls off his agreement with Lemon and Vanderman and destroys the camera, realizing that their attempt to exploit Penelope is wrong.1_L-XwBXUvSEsTGI2ihATNPAMeanwhile, Penelope, inspired by Max’s conversations about the outside world, decides to flee the protection of her parents’ home, and journeys out into the city, naive and ignorant about normal life. She uses a scarf to cover her face. While at a bar, Penelope ends up befriending a delivery girl named Annie (Reese Witherspoon) who becomes her “real world” mentor and best friend. Having no money and seeing that Lemon and Vanderman are offering a reward for a photograph of her, she decides to collect on the reward by producing a photo of herself while remaining anonymous in public with her scarf. Penelope’s courage in going out to the world then acts as an inspiration for Max, who quits gambling and starts work in an old theatre. When her parents see Penelope while trying to find her and take her back home, she runs from them and then passes out in a bar with Annie, causing Penelope’s scarf to be removed. To her surprise, Penelope becomes an overnight celebrity, flocked by adoring fans who are not disgusted by her face.pen_31Meanwhile, Vanderman’s father Edward Vandermann II (Nigel Havers), seeing the public’s fondness for Penelope and embarrassed by his son’s vocal cruelty toward her, coerces Edward into proposing to the girl. Lemon eventually discovers that the man he and Vanderman recruited to photograph Penelope is not Max Campion, but actually another man named Johnny Martin who took the job for money while the real Campion (Nick Frost) is in jail. On Penelope’s wedding day, he provides the information to Jessica and Wanda. Though Wanda wants to tell Penelope the truth, Jessica forces her to keep it a secret, believing that Edward is Penelope’s only chance to break the curse. Penelope nearly marries him, but backs out of the wedding at the last minute when she realizes that she does not want to marry simply to break the curse. Though Penelope’s mother urges her to marry Vanderman and at last lead a ‘normal life’, an exasperated Penelope says that she likes herself the way she is. This breaks the curse, as Penelope has at last been loved by ‘one of her own kind’ – herself – and her pig snout and ears disappear.MV5BZjZlMzRlOGQtMzViMS00NDk4LWFmOWUtZDRiZWZjYWE3Y2ZhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTYxNzc0NjU@._V1_As the months pass, Penelope moves on with her life, becoming a horticulturist and teacher, and the spectacle of her former appearance is gradually forgotten by the public even when the news of a gorilla boy being found in a laundry hamper eclipses it. After he quits his job after 25 years, Jake is revealed to be the witch who had cursed the family long ago and renders Jessica unable to speak with magic. After realizing that Jessica can no longer speak, Wanda breaks down and tells Penelope about Johnny Martin. That Halloween, Penelope finds several of her students dressing up as her old pig self, and dons a “Penelope” mask as she goes to reunite with Johnny, who she discovers lives nearby. Johnny, not knowing that the curse has been broken, kisses Penelope and apologizes to her, saying that he does not have the power to break the curse. Penelope then reveals that she had the power to lift the curse all along, and the two share a passionate kiss, beginning a romantic relationship.penelopeIn the final scenes, Penelope concludes telling her story to a group of children in a park-like area. When Penelope asks her class what the moral of the story is, they give out answers like “rich people stink” and “it’s always the mother’s fault”, until one bright boy replies, “it’s not the power of the curse, it’s the power you give the curse”, Penelope acknowledges the answer. After the children are dismissed, Johnny and Penelope walk up the hill to a swing, where he is seen happily pushing her. Meanwhile, on a nearby lake, Lemon rows up in a small rowboat and is about to take a picture revealing to the world what has happened to Penelope. Observing their happiness, Lemon decides to leave them alone as he rows away.

l_2ecb2b84-4a72-41b0-9c2e-83a750ad9684All-in-all, this movie is as good, and as endearing, as ‘Edward Scissorhands’ was over generation ago. A definite must-see!

REVIEW: KILLERS

CAST
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Ashton Kutcher (The Butterfly Effect)
Tom Selleck (Ted)
Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice)
Katherine Winnick (Hellraiser 8)
Kevin Sussman (Ugly Betty)
Martin Mull (Jingle All The Way)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Usher Raymond (Texas Rangers)
Ariel Winter (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Winston Story (Masked Rider)
Larry Joe Campbell (The Orville)
mockingjay-1920-554390-1920x1200
After a break-up with a boyfriend, an overly cautious Jen (Katherine Heigl) travels to Nice, France with her parents (Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara). After getting into an elevator to go to her hotel room, she meets Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher). Spencer asks her out for drinks and she accepts. The scene then changes to Spencer sneaking onto a boat, putting a remote controlled bomb on the bottom of a helicopter, then taking out a guard. He then swims back and goes on the date with Jen. After the helicopter takes off, Spencer triggers the bomb using his phone.
After a night of drinking, Jen reveals that she’s not the spontaneous person she’s been pretending to be and in return Spencer bluntly tells her that he’s an assassin, albeit unhappy about being one. Unfortunately she’s already passed out and hasn’t heard. In spite of this, Spencer decides that Jen’s the woman he’s been looking for and decides to marry her. When Spencer tells his boss, Holbrook (Martin Mull), his plan, the response is that quitting is not an option. Spencer is defiant and goes ahead with his plan.Three years later, they are settled into their new normal life. After Spencer surprises Jen with a remodeled office, she gives him a birthday surprise: tickets to Nice to celebrate his birthday and their three years. Because of his dubious connections to Nice, Spencer is less than enthusiastic. When Jen’s friends ask about his reaction, they take it as a sign that he might be getting bored and fill her head with doubts. 
Meanwhile, Spencer gets a postcard from his old boss and the ultimatum to take another assignment. While trying to refuse him long distance, Jen’s father shows up to take Spencer to dinner, so Spencer hangs up the phone, prompting suspicion in Mr. Kornfeldt. This is fueled further when Jen’s dad sees the postcard and quizzes him about the XOXX (hugs and kisses), being odd coming from a former boss. Stopping home to change, Spencer finds that the dinner invitation is just a detour to bring him to a surprise party. While Spencer navigates drunken friends, Jen’s friends continue to fill her head with doubts over Spencer’s lack of enthusiasm for the Nice trip. This is further irritated, when the following morning, despite her attempts to be physical with him, Spencer rushes Jen off on her business trip.
killers-clip-2-la-4-9-10
A little while later, Jen comes back (without having gone on her trip) to find Spencer being tossed around their house by Henry (Rob Riggle), Spencer’s best friend and co-worker. Spencer screams for her to get his gun (of which she was unaware) and she shoots Henry in the arm. While interrogating him, Henry reveals that there is a $20 million bounty on Spencer’s head. An unidentified sniper takes shots at them, and Spencer and Jen flee. Henry goes after them, and after a car chase through the neighborhood, they end up in a construction zone, where Henry crashes his car. Spencer rams him into a trench, impaling his car on rebar and killing him. They then go to the hotel room where Spencer’s old boss is staying, but find that someone has already killed him. Jen demands that they go to her dad for help, but Spencer disagrees. In the middle of their argument Jen vomits, and declares that she might be pregnant.
Heading back to his office for Jen to take a pregnancy test, Spencer is attacked by his secretary (Katheryn Winnick) and realizes that there are others who know about the contract. Jen then reveals that she is pregnant and is leaving Spencer. Left alone, Spencer is attacked by a delivery driver, who is then run over and killed by Olivia (Lisa Ann Walter), Henry’s wife, another killer vying for the contract. She then tries to run over Spencer, but Jen returns and smashes Olivia’s car into a fuel tank, which Spencer then shoots at and explodes, killing Olivia. The two discuss their possible future and return to their neighborhood, which is holding its annual block party. When they first arrive, they are attacked by two more assailants who, in a chase through backyards, crash their car, giving Jen and Spencer a chance to flee into the block party. As they walk through it, they receive many suspicious looks from neighbors. They enter their house to retrieve guns and their passports. Spencer is grabbing the guns when he is attacked by the two assailants again, whom he eventually kills.
MV5BMTc4MzIwNTM0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTAzNzc4._V1_
Meanwhile, one assassin, Kristen (Casey Wilson), one of Jen’s best friends, holds Jen’s mother as a hostage in a Mexican standoff with Jen. Jen’s father arrives and kills Kristen. He then explains that he was the one who put out the bounty on Spencer. He knew of Spencer’s previous work all along, and hired the neighbors and co-workers three years before, in case Spencer started working for his old boss again, who Jen’s father says had “gone dirty.” After seeing the postcard from Holbrook in Spencer’s office, he came to the conclusion that Spencer had re-accepted his old job and activated the assassins. He reveals that he had been an operative as well, and that he was actually the target Spencer was supposed to kill in Nice three years earlier.
Katherine Heigl Killers CIA spy TV series
In a standoff between Spencer and Jen’s father, he does not trust that Spencer is really out of the game. Wanting to prove that he really did get out, Spencer drops his gun, and tells Jen’s father he has no intention of killing him. Jen, now convinced, reveals her pregnancy to her parents. Jen’s father, after killing one last wounded assassin, drops his gun as well. The family makes peace by building a trust circle, in which Spencer reveals that English is not his first language, and that he wanted to be the first one to say “I love you” to Jen. The movie ends showing Spencer and Jen’s father working on some wires near Spencer and Jen’s baby’s crib. Spencer has grown a moustache just like Jen’s father. Spencer and Jen then leave to let Jen’s mom and dad babysit. They all leave the room, but Spencer comes back in to activate the lasers protecting the baby.
1143096186
Killers is definitely not the best movie and won’t win awards. But it’s a fun movie. The story is fairly predictable, but it has some good action and is generally pretty entertaining

REVIEW: BEETLEJUICE

CAST

Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Geena Davis (The Fly)
Winona Ryder (Star Trek)
Glenn Shadix (Hercules: TLJ)
Annie McEnroe (Wall Street)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Jeffrey Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Robert Goulet (Two Guys & A Girl)
Tony Cox (Bad Santa)
Jack Angel (A.I.)

Fun Halloween movies more often than not fall flat on their faces; I’d say that Beetlejuice is the best in years. The straightforward script by Michael McDowell (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Warren Skaaren (Batman ’89) posits Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin & Geena Davis) as the cute owners of a hilltop house in New England, who run afoul of “life-continuance issues.” As ghosts in the next world, they fail to absorb the wisdom in a thoughtfully provided Guidebook for the Dead, and are horrified when a New York family moves in and begins remodeling their happy home.
Charles (Jeffrey Jones) is a financial adviser taking a break from the strain. His wife Delia (Catherine O’Hara), an artist hungry for recognition, insists on turning the house into an avant-garde eyesore. Daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) dresses in widow’s black and luxuriates in morbid thoughts. The Maitlands make contact with Lydia, who is delighted until her parents attempt to co-opt the ghostly tenants as a moneymaking status symbol (this is the 1980s, after all). But Adam and Barbara have troubles too. Frustrated by the red tape they find in the afterlife — pictured as a welfare office manned by the acerbic Juno (Sylvia Sydney) — the Maitlands are so keen to evict the new owners that they summon the services of the demon Betelgeuse, aka Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), an obscene, unkempt imp who bills himself as a “bio-exorcist” — a Ghostbuster in reverse.
Filmmaker Tim Burton may work within a limited range of themes, but in his personal playroom there’s nobody better. Beetlejuice is crammed with visual invention and whimsical allusions. The Maitlands’ moment of crisis on a New England-style covered bridge is a lampoon of a Norman Rockwell “human interest” painting, complete with a “cute” dog. Delia is obsessed with annoyingly aggressive modern artworks. When possessed by spirits, one of her sculptures crawls like the brain-things in Fiend Without a Face and another engulfs Delia like an Iron Maiden (one of umpteen recurring motifs in Burton films). Charles’ attempt to relax through bird watching results in an hilariously black comedy throwaway gag worthy of Charles Addams.
The pushy small town real estate agent (Annie McEnroe) balances the script’s New York snobs, played by Robert Goulet and Dick Cavett. In his best film appearance, Cavett dismisses poor Delia as a consummate flake. Burton uses the gathering to pull off an uproarious musical number, using Harry Belafonte music to great effect. Glenn Shadix’s conniving art hustler Otho is forced to dance along to the calypso beat. As the ultimate humiliation, Beetlejuice throws Otho into a brightly colored leisure suit. Otho’s reaction proves that horror is where one finds it.
 The over-the-top Michael Keaton figures in only about of the third of the show, which is perfect judgment. Beetlejuice rattles on like Robin Williams, eats bugs and tries out the raunchier jokes. Running his bio-exorcism racket like a used car lot, Beetlejuice hangs out at the brothel in Adam’s miniature model of the town; to scare the humans he turns into a manic phantasmagoria of illusions. The character was such a success, it was incorporated into a theme show for the Universal Tour.
Winona Ryder is the first live-action representative of Burton’s ideal introvert’s girlfriend, initially represented as a portrait of the “Lost Lenore” in his animated short Vincent. Since then Burton’s dream girls, from the Corpse Bride to Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd have all had tiny chins and soulful eyes … hmm … Burton’s ego-surrogate Johnny Depp follows the same pattern. Like Natalie Portman in Mars Attacks!, Lydia suffers in the shadow of overbearing parents but blooms when confronted by real adventure — in this case her friendship with the dead. Even in the afterlife, the Maitlands continue to be caring individuals. This makes Beetlejuice less of a horror spoof than a charming addition to the ranks of Films Blanc.
Tim Burton’s arts ‘n’ crafts visual sense invests Beetlejuice with several arresting stylized environments. The yuppie heaven of the Maitland home gives way to Delia’s Manhattan tastes. The attic has Alec’s hobby world, the miniature map of the town. A hole in a brick wall leads to the expressionist bureaucracy of Juno’s welfare office, where an ordinary janitor mops the floors of Caligari-like corridors. Beetlejuice can slip between dimensions as long as he’s given a verbal passport, like Rumplestiltskin. Seen first in cheesy advertisements, Beetlejuice can inhabit Alec’s miniature as well as perform fantastic transformations. He appears as a gaudy carousel and as a giant demon-snake (courtesy of stop-motion animator Ted Rae). Turning the comedy to a darker tone, Beetlejuice resurrects Alec and Barbara as Dia de los muertos wedding ghouls. He summons a toad-like preacher from hell for his marriage to the dazed Lydia — who finds herself outfitted in a scarlet wedding dress. All of this great fun is at the expense of Fritz Lang, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, with free public service messages thrown in about smoking and Ecuadorian headshrinkers. In the spirit of playfulness, Burton leaves us with a literally uplifting calypso coda. Lydia spoke idly of suicide, but her happy times with the dead