25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

 

CAST
Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Tom Hanks (The Bonfire of The Vanities)
Christopher Walken (The prophecy)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Nathalie Baye (Tell No One)
Amy Adams (Batman v Superman)
James Brolin (The Amityville Horror)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Sarah Lancaster (Chuck)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Jessica Collins (Tru Calling)
John Finn (Cold Case)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Giirl)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy)
Kaitlin Doubleday (Waiting…)
Alex Hyde-White (THe Fantastic Four)
Malachi Throne (It Takes a Thief)
Nick Zano (Legends of Tomorrow
In 1963, teen-aged Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in New Rochelle, New York with his father Frank Abagnale, Sr. (Christopher Walken), and French mother Paula (Nathalie Baye). When Frank Sr. is denied a business loan at Chase Manhattan Bank due to unknown difficulties with the IRS, the family is forced to move from their large home to a small apartment. Paula carries on an affair with Jack (James Brolin), a friend of her husband. Meanwhile, Frank poses as a substitute teacher in his French class. Frank’s parents file for divorce, and Frank runs away. When he runs out of money, he begins relying on confidence scams to get by. Soon, Frank’s cons increase and he even impersonates an airline pilot. He forges Pan Am payroll checks and succeeds in stealing over $2.8 million.
Meanwhile, Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an FBI bank fraud agent, begins tracking Frank. Carl and Frank meet at a hotel, where Frank convinces Carl his name is Barry Allen of the Secret Service, and that he was also after the fraud. Frank leaves, Carl angrily realizing a minute too late that he has been fooled. Later, at Christmas, Carl is still at work when Frank calls him, attempting to apologize for duping Carl. Carl rejects his apology and tells him he will soon be caught, but laughs when he realizes Frank actually called him because he has no one else to talk to. Frank hangs up, and Carl continues to investigate, suddenly realizing (thanks to a waiter) that the name “Barry Allen” is from the Flash comic books and that Frank is actually a teenager.
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Frank, meanwhile, has expanded his con to include the identities of a doctor and lawyer. While playing Dr. Frank Conners, he falls in love with Brenda (Amy Adams). While asking her father’s permission to marry her, he admits the truth about himself and asks for help with the Louisiana State Bar exam. Carl tracks him to his engagement party and Frank is able to sneak out a bedroom window minutes before Carl bursts in. Before leaving, Frank makes Brenda promise to meet him in Miami two days later so they can elope. Frank sees her waiting for him two days later, but also notices plainclothes agents waiting to arrest him, realizing he has been set up and escapes on a flight to Europe. Seven months later, Carl shows his boss that Frank has been forging checks all over western Europe and asks permission to go to Europe to look for him. When his boss refuses, Carl brings Frank’s checks to printing professionals who claim that the checks were printed in France. From an interview with Frank’s mother, Carl remembers that she was actually born in Montrichard, France. He goes there and locates Frank, and tells him that the French police will kill him if he does not go with Carl quietly. Frank assumes he is lying at first, but Carl promises Frank he would never lie to him, and Carl takes him outside, where the French police escort him to prison.
The scene then flashes forward to a plane returning Frank home from prison, where Carl informs him that his father has died. Grief-stricken, Frank escapes from the plane and goes back to his old house, where he finds his mother with the man she left his father for, as well as a girl who Frank realizes is his half-sister. Frank gives himself up and is sentenced to 12 years in prison, getting visits from time to time from Carl. When Frank points out how one of the checks Carl is carrying as evidence is fake, Carl convinces the FBI to offer Frank a deal by which he can live out the remainder of his sentence working for the bank fraud department of the FBI, which Frank accepts. While working at the FBI, Frank misses the thrill of the chase and even attempts to fly as an airline pilot again. He is cornered by Carl, who insists that Frank will return to the FBI job since no one is chasing him. On the following Monday, Carl is nervous that Frank has not yet arrived at work. However, Frank eventually arrives and they discuss their next case. The ending credits reveal that Frank has been happily married for 26 years, has three sons, lives in the Midwest, is still good friends with Carl, has caught some of the world’s most elusive money forgers, and earns millions of dollars each year because of his work creating unforgeable checks.
Stephen Spielberg does an outstanding job of orchestrating this wildly unpredictable film.  He’s able to expose the heart of the story with ease in this film, not cheating us out of anything at any point during the entire movie.This is a very well-made movie with top notch performances that definitely deserve recognition.

 

REVIEW: OLD SCHOOL

CAST
Luke Wilson (My Super Ex-Girlfriend)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Ellen Pompeo (Catch Me If You Can)
Juliette Lewis (Some Girl)
Leah Remini (The King of Queens)
Perrey Reeves (Childs Play 3)
Craig Kilborn (Cursed)
Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Sarah Shahi (Alias)
Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost
Matt Walsh (Ted)
Artie Lange (Elf)
Patrick Fischler (Happy!)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Snoop Dogg (Training Day)
Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies)
Patrick J. Adams (Suits)
Andy Dick (Road Trip)
Attorney Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) breaks up with his girlfriend when he accidentally discovers that she takes part in orgies. Mitch encounters his high school crush, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), at the wedding of his friend Frank (Will Ferrell) and makes an awkward impression. Later, he finds a house located near the campus of the fictional Harrison University in New York.
Mitch’s other friend Bernard (Vince Vaughn) throws a party at Mitch’s house, dubbed Mitch-A-Palooza, which is a huge success. Frank gets drunk at the party and is seen streaking by his wife, putting a strain on their new marriage. The trio run into an old acquaintance whom they used to ridicule at school: Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven), who is now the College “Dean”. He informs them that they must vacate because Mitch’s house has been designated exclusively for campus housing. Bernard proposes starting a fraternity that is open to anyone to meet the Dean’s criteria of campus housing. The new fraternity carries out several hazing events throughout campus, attracting the attention of the Dean and other members of the faculty.
Nicole brings her boyfriend Mark to the party for one of Bernard’s children and Mitch walks in on him in the bathroom while he was hooking up with a girl from the catering firm. While initially discreet, Mitch is forced to recount the entire incident to Nicole when Mark tries to lie that the girl was with Mitch instead of himself. The oldest fraternity member, Blue, has a heart attack, collapses, and dies during a “KY lube wrestling” match with two good-looking college girls at his birthday celebration. At Blue’s funeral, Frank’s wife says she wants a divorce, forcing Frank to live with Mitch. Plotting revenge against the group, Dean Pritchard bribes the Student Council President, Megan Huang, until she agrees to revoke the fraternity’s charter. Megan, who lost her virginity at one of their parties to her new boyfriend, initially remains loyal to the Fraternity until the Dean bribes her with promises to help her get into Columbia Law School. By video, he claims that the group is violating university policies subjecting the students in the non-sanctioned fraternity to expulsion. Mitch finds out that the group has the right to bypass the Dean’s ruling if all of their members complete activities that include academic tests, public debates and athletics to prove their legitimacy.
Frank is able to defeat James Carville in a debate over the government’s role in biotechnology. Next, the fraternity successfully navigates their way through a difficult academic exam largely due to the assistance of two of Mitch’s co-workers, who help the guys cheat. In the school spirit evaluation, the Fraternity loses points when Frank unsuccessfully attempts to jump through a ring of fire while dressed as the school mascot. Badly burned and humiliated, Frank rallies to give a strong performance in the floor exercise routine of the gymnastics competition. Bernard manages to complete the rings routine, leaving only the vault exercise remaining. Pritchard chooses Weensie, an obese member of the fraternity, to perform the vault. Amazingly, Weensie executes a perfect landing, allowing the Fraternity to pass gymnastics.
Luke Wilson and Elisha Cuthbert in Old School (2003)
The men are able to complete all of the activities successfully with an 84% average. However, Pritchard tells them that their average has dropped to a failing 58% after accounting for the absence of the deceased member Blue. While the students are in despair, Megan arrives with tape recorded evidence of the Dean’s bribery. After a chase, Frank obtains the tape and uses it to get the Dean fired. The fraternity’s charter is reinstated and the fraternity moves into Dean Pritchard’s old house.
Nicole visits Mitch, intent on moving their relationship forward. Despite Bernard and Mitch withdrawing from the fraternity, Frank maintains his ties as leader. In the closing credits, Mark’s car falls on top of Pritchard and explodes, killing both, and Frank hooks up with Mitch’s ex-girlfriend.
Fun from beginning to end, Old School will not win any awards for dramatic scenes or cinematography. But it will win a lot of points as an outright hilarious comedy.  Old School is a classic cult comedy fulfilling the dreams of countless former college fraternity members who ache to relive the greatest party days of their lives. Because it’s so funny, Old School is a definite must-see film.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL (2003)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin CIty)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
David Keith (Firestarter)
Scott Terra (Shadrach)
Leland Orser (The Bone Collector)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy)
Derrick O’ Connor (Lethal Weapon 2)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Coolio (Batman & Robin)

Daredevil stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, a lawyer who lives and works in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. As a child, Matt was blinded by biohazardous waste. However, this traumatic event augmented his other four senses, granting him with a radar-like vision, allowing him to “see” with sound. With his heightened senses, and his need to have justice fulfilled (stemming from his father’s murder), Matt roams the streets at night as Daredevil, a masked vigilante who serves as judge, jury, and executioner. Matt’s obsession with justice alienates him from others, even his law partner “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau).Matt’s life changes when he meets the beautiful Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Matt is immediately taken by this strong, young woman who is an accomplished fighter. However, things go awry when Elektra’s father is targeted by the ruthless Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), a crime-boss who will stop at nothing to keep his empire intact. Kingpin dispatches the assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who has the ability to make any object into a deadly weapon, to eliminate Elektra’s father. Matt finds himself pulled into Elektra’s world, but clearly only Daredevil can stop Bullseye and The Kingpin.Jennifer Garner in Daredevil (2003)Daredevil is a very dark movie.  Thus capturing the feel of the years that Frank Miller worked on the comic. While most of the Marvel Comics characters are tortured souls, Daredevil is an especially bleek character, and the movie does a fine job of presenting this. Whereas the comic is full of thought balloons in which the character expresses his innermost feelings, the film presents montages essaying his loneliness and bitterness. This is a man who is pissed-off at the world, and even when something beautiful such as Elektra comes along, it gets blighted.Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003)Along with the tone of the film, Johnson provides a nice pace as well. The action scenes here are nothing new, but they are very well-shot and edited. The film does a fine job of balancing the exciting scenes with the more dramatic ones, and Favreau is even able to throw in a few moments of comic relief. For the most part, the special effects are good.One of the film’s biggest surprises is the performance by Affleck. Maybe it’s the contact lenses that he had to wear to convey blindness, but he is very good as Matt Murdock, keeping his typically rakish behavior in check for most of the film. Garner is impressive as well as Elektra, although I would have liked to have seen a costume that was similar to that in the comics.   A director’s cut of the film was released for in 2004. This version contained new additions like previously unseen footage and a removed subplot, and was to be a bit darker with an R rating. One of the biggest changes to the film was the addition of a subplot involving a drug addict played by Coolio.