REVIEW: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

CAST

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Russell Crowe (Robin Hood)
Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Kim Basinger (Pret-A-Porter)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
David Strathairn (Eight Men Out)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Paul Guilfoyle (CSI)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Graham Beckel (Pearl Harbor)
Bob Clendenin (Scrubs)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Brenda Bakke (Under Siege 2)

In early 1950s Los Angeles, Sergeant Edmund “Ed” Exley, son of the legendary LAPD detective Preston Exley, is determined to live up to his father’s reputation. His intelligence, insistence on following regulations, and cold demeanor contribute to his isolation from other officers. He exacerbates this resentment by volunteering to testify in the Bloody Christmas case in exchange for a promotion to Detective Lieutenant. This goes against the advice of Captain Dudley Smith, who states that a detective should be willing to shoot a guilty man in the back for the greater good. Exley’s ambition is fueled by the murder of his father, killed by an unknown assailant, whom Exley nicknames “Rollo Tomasi”.Officer Wendell “Bud” White, whom Exley considers a “mindless thug”, is a plainclothes officer obsessed with violently punishing woman-beaters. One such incident leads him to confront a former cop named Leland “Buzz” Meeks, a driver for Pierce Patchett. White comes to dislike Exley after White’s partner, Dick Stensland, is fired due to Exley’s testimony in the Bloody Christmas scandal. White is sought out by Smith for a job in which they harass and beat up out-of-town criminals trying to fill the void left in Los Angeles following the imprisonment of gangster Mickey Cohen for tax evasion. The Nite Owl case, a multiple homicide at a coffee shop, becomes personal after Stensland is found to be one of the victims.Sergeant Jack Vincennes is a narcotics detective who moonlights as a technical advisor on Badge of Honor, a popular TV police drama series. He is providing Sid Hudgens, publisher of the Hush-Hush tabloid magazine, with tips about celebrity arrests that will attract more readers to Hudgens’ magazine. When he becomes involved in Hudgens’ scheme to set up actor Matt Reynolds in a homosexual tryst with L.A. district attorney Ellis Loew, and Reynolds is killed as a result, Vincennes becomes determined to find the killer.

Three African Americans are initially charged with the Nite Owl murders, and later killed in a shootout. Although the Nite Owl crime initially looks like a botched robbery, Exley and White individually investigate it to discover indications of corruption all around them. White recognizes Nite Owl victim Susan Lefferts as one of Meeks’ escorts which leads him back to Pierce Patchett, operator of Fleur-de-Lis, a call girl service that runs prostitutes altered by plastic surgery to resemble film stars. He begins a relationship with Lynn Bracken, a Veronica Lake look-alike prostitute. The body count rises when White searches a storage room under Lefferts’ mother’s house, and finds the decomposed corpse of Meeks.When Vincennes approaches Smith with the evidence he has found with Exley, Smith realizes his scheme to take over Mickey Cohen’s heroin empire is threatened. Smith shoots Vincennes, who utters “Rollo Tomasi” before dying, the origin of which Exley told Vincennes in confidence. Exley’s suspicions are aroused when Smith asks him who Rollo Tomasi is. During an interrogation of Hudgens, Smith arranges for White to see photos of Bracken sleeping with Exley, which sends White into a rage. Confident that White has gone after Exley to kill him, Smith kills Hudgens. Exley investigates and discovers Meeks and Stensland used to work closely with Smith. White drives to the police station and begins to fight Exley, but Exley is able to convince White that Smith is corrupt and has set them both up. The two decide to team together to take down Smith. They are able to obtain evidence against Smith by threatening Loew, and later find Patchett murdered. Exley and White realize that Smith himself has been taking over after Cohen, and the killings have been Smith tying up loose ends.Exley and White are set up with a trap against Smith and his hitmen. After a gunfight that kills all the hitmen, Smith shoots White in the face, but then is forced to surrender to Exley. As police arrive, Exley shoots Smith in the back, killing him. The LAPD cover up Smith’s crimes and say he died a hero in the shootout to protect the department’s image, and in exchange Exley bargains to also be hailed a hero and receives a medal for his bravery. Upon leaving City Hall, Exley sees Bracken, who tells him she is returning home to Arizona with White, revealing White survived the shooting. Exley and White shake hands and Bracken drives off into the sunset.5616cde899678This was easily the best Hollywood movie of 1997, this just may be one the smartest movies you haven’t seen. With great performances from an ensemble all-star cast and a clever script, the dramatic tension of this modern film-noir classic is an absolute must-see! Told through a variation on the theme of “good cop, bad cop” with an overarching corruption angle, this film cleverly deals with issues of racism, social justice and ethics in a non-discriminatory manner. Character development is well-done and the dramatic tension is superb. If you are a fan of crime-drama and detective stories, you won’t be disappointed

REVIEW: MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS

Untitled

 

CAST

Norah Jones (Ted)
Jude Law (Spy)
David Strathairn (Alphas)
Rachel Weisz (Confidence)
Natalie Portman (No Strings Attached)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)

Jude Law in My Blueberry Nights (2007)Jeremy (Jude Law) is an émigré from Manchester who owns a small New York City cafe. The cafe becomes a haven for Elizabeth (Norah Jones), a young woman, as Jeremy tells her that he saw her boyfriend cheating on her. Devastated, she stays in his cafe the entire night, eating a blueberry pie he made, and also telling stories about each other. Jeremy, having an eidetic memory, explains to her the bowl of keys he is keeping, knowing the story of every person who left the key in his cafe and keeping it in the bowl in case someone comes back for them. Elizabeth leaves her key of her apartment and leaves Jeremy’s café. Elizabeth, now calling herself Lizzie, eventually drifts to Memphis, Tennessee, where she takes two jobs, waitress by day and barmaid by night, in order to earn enough money to finance the purchase of a car. She regularly sends postcards to Jeremy, taking a liking to him, without revealing where she lives or works and, although he tries to locate her by calling all the restaurants in the area, he fails to find her. Later on, he decides to send out postcards to any restaurants she may be to try to find her.Natalie Portman and Norah Jones in My Blueberry Nights (2007)One of Lizzie’s regulars at both jobs is local police officer Arnie Copeland (David Strathairn), an alcoholic who cannot accept the fact his wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz) has left him and is flaunting her freedom by openly socializing with a younger man named Randy (Benjamin Kanes). He confesses to Lizzie his many attempts at achieving sobriety have ended in failure, taking many AA meetings but failing. One night off duty in the bar where Lizzie works, he drunkenly threatens Sue Lynne with his gun if she leaves. Later on, Arnie drives drunk and dies after crashing into a pole. Lizzie comforts Sue Lynne at the crash site, before leaving town, and is given the money towards Arnie’s tab at the bar, revealing to Lizzie that she made a mistake and that she misses him. The place where he died is also the place where they met, suggesting that he may have committed suicide.Norah Jones in My Blueberry Nights (2007)Heading west, Elizabeth – now calling herself Beth – gets another waitress job at a casino in a small town in Nevada. Here she meets Leslie (Natalie Portman), an inveterate poker player who has lost all her money. Beth agrees to lend her $2200 she has in exchange for a third of her winnings or her car, a Jaguar XK, if she loses. When she does lose, she fulfills her promise by giving Beth her Jaguar, but asks her to drive her to Las Vegas so she can borrow money from her father, whom she has not seen in a long time.  While en route Leslie receives a call from a Vegas hospital, where her father has been admitted and is dying. She believes the call is simply a ruse to lure her home, but upon arrival in Vegas she discovers her father died the previous night. Leslie announces she wants to keep the car, which she had stolen from her father, who had sent her the title and registration despite their estrangement. She confesses she really won the card game and gives Beth her promised share of the winnings, which she uses to finally purchase the car she always wanted.Rachel Weisz in My Blueberry Nights (2007)Elizabeth returns to Manhattan and, discovering her ex-boyfriend has vacated his apartment and moved on with his life, returns to the cafe, where Jeremy has had a stool at the counter reserved for her ever since she left. As she eats a slice of blueberry pie, Elizabeth realizes her feelings for him are reciprocated. She passes out on the counter after spending the night, and Jeremy kisses her while she is asleep, and she returns the kiss as the film ends.The contemplative, lyrical mood of the film and the sometimes astute and touching observations it makes about both the good and bad aspects of relationships turn “My Blueberry Nights” – its episodic nature notwithstanding – into an enjoyable, if minor, triumph for Wai and his gifted cast.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE LEGACY

CAST
Jeremy Renner (The Avengers)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil TV)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Edward Norton (Fight Club)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)
Michael Chernus (Men In Black 3)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
David Strathairn (Alphas)
Albert Finney (Big Fish)
Joan Allen (The Notebook)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Elizabeth Marvel (Homeland)
The CIA lost track of Jason Bourne’s whereabouts in Moscow six weeks ago. Meanwhile, Aaron Cross is a government operative assigned to Operation Outcome, a Department of Defense black operation program using experimental pills known as “chems” to enhance the physical and mental abilities of their users. Aaron is assigned to Alaska for a training exercise, where he must survive weather extremes and traverse rugged terrain in order to arrive at a remote cabin. The cabin is operated by an exiled Outcome operative, Number Three, who informs Aaron that he has broken the mission record by two days.
Reporter Simon Ross of The Guardian, who has been investigating the CIA programs Treadstone and Blackbriar, is assassinated at London Waterloo station. When the illegal adaptation of the programs is exposed by Jason, the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigate CIA Director Ezra Kramer, Deputy Director Pamela Landy, Blackbriar supervisor Noah Vosen and Treadstone medical director Dr. Albert Hirsch.After the mayhem in New York and Jason’s escape, Kramer requests help from Mark Turso, a retired United States Navy admiral, who runs the National Research Assay Group (NRAG). Turso informs Eric Byer, a retired Air Force colonel overseeing NRAG’s research and development of various clandestine enhancement programs used by the CIA and Defense. Byer discovers a potentially scandalous video on the Internet showing Hirsch socializing with Dr. Dan Hillcott, Outcome’s medical director. To prevent the Senate investigation from learning about Outcome, Byer orders everyone associated with the program killed. He sees the sacrifice as acceptable in order to protect NRAG’s next-generation “Beta programs”, including the supersoldier program LARX.Byer deploys a drone to eliminate Outcome agents Number Three and Five (Aaron) in Alaska. Aaron hears the drone’s approach and leaves moments before a missile destroys the cabin with Number Three inside. Aaron removes the Radio-frequency identification implanted in his thigh and force-feeds it to a wolf which is then blown up by a missile, tricking Byer into believing Aaron is dead. Hirsch dies of an apparent heart attack before he can testify before the Senate. Dr. Donald Foite, a researcher at a bio-genetics laboratory, uses a pistol to kill all but one of his top-level colleagues employed by Outcome. When security guards enter his lab, Foite turns his gun on himself, leaving biochemist Dr. Marta Shearing as the sole survivor.[3] Meanwhile, other Outcome agents are eliminated when their handlers give them poisoned chems. When four elite “D-Track” assassins ambush Marta at her country house and attempt to fake her suicide, they are eliminated by Aaron. He saves her life as she is his last link to the chems so that he can retain his enhanced capabilities and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Marta reveals that Cross has been genetically modified by a tailored virus to retain the physical benefits without needing the green chems anymore. He still requires regular doses of blue chems to maintain his intelligence, but he is running out. Aaron confides to her that he is Private First Class Kenneth J. Kitsom (reportedly killed by a roadside bomb in the Iraq War) and that his recruiter added 12 points to his IQ, enabling Aaron to meet the United States Army’s requirements. Without his enhanced intelligence, Aaron believes they stand no chance of survival. Aaron and Marta travel to Manila, where the chems are manufactured, to try to infect him with another virus so he will not need the blue chems.Aaron and Marta bluff their way into the chem factory. Marta injects Aaron with the live virus stems. Byer alerts the factory security, but Aaron and Marta evade capture. Byer orders LARX-03, a chemically-brainwashed supersoldier, to track down and kill them. Aaron recovers from the flu-like symptoms but hallucinates about his Outcome training Police surround their shelter while Marta is buying medicine; she warns Aaron by screaming. Aaron rescues her and steals a motorbike. They are pursued by both the police and LARX-03. After a lengthy chase through the streets and marketplaces of Manila to Marikina, they lose the police, but not the assassin. Both Aaron and LARX-03 are wounded by bullets. LARX-03 is killed when Marta causes his motorcycle to crash into a pillar. Marta persuades a Filipino boatman to help them escape by sea. They sail away, while back in New York, Vosen lies to the Senate that Landy committed treason by trying to sell Treadstone secrets to the press and by assisting Jason, the only reason why Blackbriar existed
This is not meant to be an extension to the Matt Damon franchise and doesn’t try to be. It is very good in it’s own right and has to be viewed as a stand-alone, parallel story that uses references to the on-going Bourne saga to place it in context. Very well paced and filled with detail, it should more than satisfy any follower of the ‘Bourne’ trilogy and makes a worthwhile addition to the series.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

CAST
Matt Damon (Dogma)
Julia Stiles (Silver Linings Playbook)
David Straithairn (L.A. Confidential)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz)
Edgar Ramirez (Wrath of The Titans)
Albert Finney (Big Fish)
Joan Allen (The Notebook)
Daniel Bruhl (Captain America: Civil War)
Scott Adkins (X-Men Origins)
Following his pursuit by Kirill, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) evades Moscow police. Six weeks later, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) divulges the audiotaped confession of Ward Abbott, the late former head of Operation Treadstone, to Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn). Meanwhile, in Turin, journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) of The Guardian meets an informant to learn about Jason and Operation Blackbriar, the program succeeding Treadstone. The CIA tracks Ross as he returns to London, after his mention of “Blackbriar” during a cell-phone call to his editor is detected by the ECHELON system. Jason reappears in Paris to inform Martin Kreutz (Daniel Brühl), the step-brother of his girlfriend Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente) of her assassination in India.
Jason reads Ross’s articles and arranges a meeting with him at London Waterloo station. Jason realizes that the CIA is following Ross and helps him evade capture, but Ross ignores Jason’s instructions, despite warning him and is quickly assassinated by Blackbriar assassin Paz (Edgar Ramirez), on orders of Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Straithairn) right in front of the crowd of citizens. Vosen’s team, reluctantly assisted by Landy, analyzes Ross’s notes and realize Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), a CIA Station chief involved with Treadstone and Blackbriar, was his source. Jason makes his way to Daniels’s office in Madrid but finds it empty. He incapacitates gunmen sent by Vosen and Landy. Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons (Julia Stiles), a former Treadstone technician who shares a history with Jason, tells him that Daniels has fled to Tangier and aids his escape from an arriving CIA unit.
Nicky learns that Blackbriar “asset” Desh Bouksani (Joey Ansah) has been tasked with killing Daniels. Vosen sees that Nicky accessed information about Daniels and sends Bouksani after Nicky and Jason as well, a decision with which Landy fiercely disagrees. Jason follows Bouksani to Daniels but fails to prevent Daniels’s death by a planted bomb. However, Jason manages to kill Bouksani before he can kill Nicky. After sending Nicky into hiding, Jason examines the contents of Daniels’s briefcase and finds the address of the deep-cover CIA bureau in New York City, where Vosen directs Blackbriar. Jason travels to New York.
Landy receives a phone call from Jason, which is intercepted by Vosen. Landy tells him that his real name is David Webb and mentions “4-15-71”. Bourne tells Landy to “get some rest” because she “look[s] tired”, tipping off his presence in New York. Vosen intercepts a text to Landy from Jason, apparently of a location to meet up and leaves his office with a rendition team to capture him. Instead, Jason enters Vosen’s office and takes classified Blackbriar documents. Realizing that he has been hoodwinked, Vosen sends Paz after Jason, resulting in Paz forcing Jason’s car to crash into a concrete barrier. Jason holds Paz at gunpoint before sparing his life.
Jason arrives at a hospital at 415 East 71st Street, memories of which were triggered by the numbers that Landy had given him earlier. Outside, Jason meets Landy and gives her the Blackbriar files before going inside. Vosen figures out Landy’s code and warns Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney), who ran Treadstone’s behavior modification program, that Jason is coming. He follows Landy inside the building but is too late to stop her from faxing the Blackbriar documents out. Meanwhile, Jason encounters Hirsch on an upper floor and, with Hirsch’s help, remembers that he volunteered for Treadstone. As Jason flees to the roof, he is confronted by Paz, who asks, “Why didn’t you take the shot?” Jason repeats the dying words of The Professor: “Look at us. Look at what they make you give.” Paz lowers his gun, but Vosen appears and shoots at Jason as he collapses into the East River.
Some time later, Nicky watches a news broadcast about the exposure of Operation Blackbriar, the arrests of Hirsch and Vosen, a criminal investigation against Kramer, and the whereabouts of David Webb a.k.a. Jason Bourne. Upon hearing that his body has not been found after a three-day search of the river, Nicky smiles. Jason is shown having survived from his attempted killing and swims away.
Wonderful. It just keeps on getting better., every new Bourne film improves on the last and this is, without a doubt, the best of them.

 

 

 

REVIEW: GODZILLA (2014)

CAST

Aaron Taylor-Johnston (Kick-Ass 1 & 2)
Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins)
Bryan Cranston (Argo)
Carson Bolde (Mansfield Path)
Sally Hawkins (Layer Cake)
Juliette Binoche (The English Patient)
David Strathairn (Lincoln)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Garry Chalk (Beast Wars)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kevan Ohtsji (Dreamcatcher)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Ty Olsson (War For The Planet of The Apes)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Aaron Pearl (Man of Steel)

In 1954, Godzilla, an ancient alpha predator, is lured to an island in an attempt to kill it with a nuclear bomb. In 1999, Project Monarch scientists Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham investigate a colossal skeleton unearthed in a collapsed mine in the Philippines. They find two giant spores; one dormant and one hatched with a trail that leads to the sea. In Japan, the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant experiences unusual seismic activity; Supervisor Joe Brody sends his wife Sandra with a team of other technicians into the reactor. A tremor breaches the reactor, leaving Sandra and her team unable to escape while the plant collapses.Fifteen years later in 2014, Joe’s son Ford, a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal officer, returns from a tour of duty to his family in San Francisco but has to immediately depart for Japan after Joe is detained for trespassing in the Janjira quarantine zone. Joe is determined to find out the cause of the Janjira meltdown, and he persuades Ford to accompany him to their old home in the quarantine zone to retrieve vital data while discovering that the zone is not toxic. They successfully retrieve the data but are discovered by soldiers and taken to a secret facility in the power plant’s ruins. After several power failures, a giant winged creature emerges and escapes, destroying the facility. Joe is severely wounded and dies as he and Ford are taken by helicopter to the U.S.S. Saratoga. The incident is reported around the world as an earthquake.
Serizawa, Graham, and Ford join a U.S. Navy task force led by Admiral William Stenz to search for the creature, called a “MUTO” (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). Serizawa and Graham reveal to Ford that a 1954 deep sea expedition triggered the appearance of Godzilla and nuclear tests in the 1950s were really attempts to kill him. Project Monarch was established to secretly study Godzilla and other similar creatures such as the MUTO, which traveled from the Philippine mine to Janjira and caused the meltdown, and how they are connected with each other. Ford reveals that Joe had monitored echolocation signals that indicated the MUTO was communicating with something.
The MUTO attacks a Russian submarine and drops it on land in Hawaii to eat the sub’s nuclear material. Godzilla arrives, causing a tsunami in Honolulu and briefly engages the MUTO in battle, until it flees. Meanwhile, a second, larger, wingless MUTO emerges from the other spore in Nevada and devastates Las Vegas. The scientists deduce the second MUTO is female, the female was the one the male was communicating with, and that the two MUTOs will meet to breed in San Francisco. Over the scientists’ objections, Stenz approves a plan to use nuclear warheads to lure and destroy the monsters. Ford returns to the U.S. and ends up joining the team delivering the warheads by train, but the female MUTO intercepts the train and devours most of the warheads. The single remaining warhead is airlifted with Ford to San Francisco and is activated after a confrontation between the military and Godzilla at the Golden Gate Bridge. The male MUTO steals the warhead and takes it to the female, who forms a nest around it in the Chinatown area.
While Godzilla and the MUTOs battle, a strike team, including Ford, enters the city via HALO jump to find and disarm the warhead. Unable to access the timer, the rest of the team sets the warhead on a boat for disposal at sea. The MUTOs are eventually able to get the upper hand, but Ford blows up the MUTO nest, ultimately distracting the MUTOs enough to allow Godzilla to emerge victorious in the end, killing the male MUTO by slamming him with his tail into the side of an office building and the female by firing his atomic breath down her throat, beheading her. Godzilla then collapses on the city shore. With the rest of the team wiped out, Ford uses the last of his energy to get the boat with the warhead out to sea. He is rescued before the warhead explodes and reunites with his family at the Oakland Coliseum emergency shelter the following morning. Godzilla awakens, rising from the destroyed San Francisco, and returns to sea while the media hails Godzilla as “King of the Monsters – savior of our city?”.It’s a good solid and well made big screen action disaster monster movie that deserves multiple viewings.