REVIEW: THE GHOST (AKA THE GHOST WRITER)

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Timothy Hutton (The Dark Half)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones)
Eli Wallach (The Godfather – Part II)

Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)A British ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired by the publishing firm Rhinehart, Inc. to complete the autobiography of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). His predecessor and Lang’s aide, Mike McAra, has recently died in an apparent drowning accident. The writer travels to Old Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where Lang and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) are staying, along with Lang’s personal assistant (and implied mistress), Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall). Amelia forbids the writer from taking McAra’s manuscript outside, emphasising that it is a security risk.Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)Shortly after the writer’s arrival, former Foreign Secretary Richard Rycart (Robert Pugh) accuses Lang of authorising the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA, a possible war crime. Lang faces prosecution by the International Criminal Court unless he stays in the US (or one of the few other countries that does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction). While Lang is in Washington, the writer finds items in McAra’s room suggesting he might have stumbled across a dark secret. Among them is an envelope containing photographs and a phone number the writer discovers is Rycart’s.Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer (2010)During a bike ride, the writer encounters an old man (Eli Wallach) who tells him the current couldn’t have taken McAra’s body from the ferry where he disappeared to the beach where it was discovered. He also reveals a neighbour saw flashlights on the beach the night McAra died, but later fell down the stairs and went into a coma. Later, Ruth admits to the writer Lang had never been very political, and until recently always took her advice. When he tells her the old man’s story, she suddenly rushes out into the rainy night to “clear her head.” Upon returning, she reveals Lang and McAra had argued the night before the latter’s death, and the ghost writer and Ruth have a one night stand while Adam is away.The next morning, the writer takes the BMW X5[5] McAra used on his last journey. Unable to cancel the pre-programmed directions on the car’s sat-nav, he decides to follow them. He arrives in Belmont at the home of Professor Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson). Emmett denies anything more than a cursory acquaintance with Lang, despite the writer showing him two pictures of the pair among photographs found in McAra’s possessions, as well as another on the wall of Emmett’s study. When the writer tells Emmett the sat-nav proves McAra visited him the night he died, Emmett denies meeting McAra and becomes evasive. The writer leaves, and successfully eludes a car that is pursuing him. He boards the ferry back to Martha’s Vineyard, but when he sees the pursuit car drive aboard, he flees the boat at the last moment and checks into a small motel by the ferry dock.Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer (2010)With no one else to turn to, the writer redials Rycart’s number, asking for help. While waiting, the writer does research on Emmett and links his think tank to a military contractor. He also finds leads connecting Emmett to the CIA. When Rycart arrives, he reveals McAra gave him documents linking Lang to so-called “torture flights,” where terrorist suspects were placed on private jets owned by Emmett’s company, to be tortured while airborne. Rycart further claims that McAra found new evidence, which he wrote about in the “beginning” of the manuscript. The men cannot, however, find anything in the early pages. The writer discusses Emmett’s relationship with Lang, while Rycart recounts how Lang’s decisions as Prime Minister uniformly benefited US interests. When the writer is summoned to accompany Lang on his return flight by private jet, he confronts Lang and accuses him of being a CIA agent recruited by Emmett. Lang derides his suggestions.Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer (2010)Upon leaving the aircraft, Lang is assassinated by a British anti-war protester, who is in turn shot by Lang’s bodyguards. Nevertheless, the writer is asked to complete the book for posthumous publication, as in light of Lang’s death it will be a certain best-seller. Amelia invites him to the book’s launch party in London, where she unwittingly tells him the Americans tightened access to the book, as the “beginnings” contained evidence threatening national security. She also tells him Emmett, who is in attendance, was Ruth’s tutor when she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard. The writer realises the clues were hidden in the original manuscript in the opening words of each chapter, and discovers the message: “Lang’s wife Ruth was recruited as a CIA agent by Professor Paul Emmett of Harvard University.” He concludes Ruth shaped Lang’s every political decision to benefit the USA under direction from the CIA.Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)The writer passes a note to Ruth revealing his discovery. She unfolds the note, and is devastated. When she sees the writer raising a glass, she is kept from following him by Emmett and other assistants. As the writer leaves the party he attempts to take a taxi, without success. As he crosses the street off-camera, a car accelerates in his direction to an impending collision. As witnesses react in horror, the pages containing McAra’s manuscript are blowing in the wind, leaving the writer’s fate unconfirmed.Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)Polanski is a master of subtlety, grace, and wit. His eye creates breathtaking and beautiful shots. His ear adds a malevolent and demented humor to the score of a film. There is most always something unspeakable, indescribable beneath the surface of a Polanski film. Something unnerving about the tone but never overbearing, or pounding the audience over the head with it. This is certainly true of The Ghost Writer. What I found surprising, not being familiar with the novel on which it is based, was the political statement being made. Humorously portraying certain key figures in the political environment of the last decade. In any other hands, this could never have been done so believably and deftly. All the key performances are on target. And how could they not be. For Polanski knows how to work with actors and guide them in creating such memorable characters. Ewan McGregor certainly fits his role seamlessly as does Olivia Williams. So many could learn from Polanski how a thriller needs to be constructed in order to hold an audience to the very end. The word entertainment means to ‘hold in between’ which is what The Ghost Writer does from beginning to its haunting and inevitable conclusion.

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: JINGLE ALL THE WAY

CAST

Arnold Schwarezenegger (Predator)
Sinbad (American Dad)
Phil Hartman (Small Soldiers)
Rita Wilson (The Bonfire of The Vanities)
Jake Lloyd (Star Wars – Episode I)
Martin Mull (Killers)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)

Howard Langston is a workaholic mattress salesman with no time for his wife, Liz, and his 9-year-old son, Jamie — especially when compared to next door “superdad” divorcee, Ted Maltin, who continually puts Howard in a bad light. After missing Jamie’s karate class graduation, Howard resolves to redeem himself by fulfilling Jamie’s ultimate Christmas wish: getting an action figure toy of Turbo-Man, a wildly popular TV superhero. On Christmas Eve, Howard sets out to buy a Turbo-Man doll at a store, telling Liz that he already has one at work that he must retrieve.Along the way, Howard meets Myron Larabee, a postal worker dad with a rival ambition, and the two soon become bitter competitors in their race for the action figure. During his search, Howard runs his car into the parked police motorcycle of Officer Hummel, who earlier pulled him over and gave him a ticket. After several failed attempts to find the toy in a store, Howard attempts to buy a Turbo-Man from a Mall of America Santa, who is actually the leader of a band of counterfeit toy makers. When he accuses the Santa of undermining the values of Christmas (having been ripped off and sold a defective toy that falls apart the moment he opened the package), Howard ends up in a brawl with the gang. He narrowly escapes when the police raid their warehouse and gets out by posing as an undercover detective using a toy badge.Later, Howard arrives at Mickey’s Diner and uses their phone to call home. As he tried to get a hold of Liz, he unintentionally scolds Jamie on the phone over Turbo-Man. Jamie, in turn, rebukes his father about how he never keeps his promises, and hangs up. Liz overhears the argument and becomes disappointed in her husband. Howard then encounters Myron at the diner. As they sat down and talk, Myron tells Howard about the time when his father was unable to get him a Johnny Seven OMA toy on Christmas. They hear on the KQRS radio station that there is a trivia competition in which the winner will receive a Turbo-Man doll. They rush to the studio, with Howard breaking the door to the recording booth, under the impression that the DJ has a Turbo-Man doll in the studio. After Myron threatens to blow up the studio with a package he claims is a mail bomb, he and Howard find out that whoever wins the competition will get a doll “eventually.” The package is revealed to be a music box. The police, led by Officer Hummell, arrive in the studio, and Myron bluffs the police into backing off by threatening them with another “mail bomb,” allowing him and Howard to escape. Hummell confidently rips open the package and it explodes, leaving his face covered in soot.After his car is stripped by thieves, Howard is ultimately forced to return home empty-handed. Outside his home, he sees Ted in his house placing the star on his tree. In anger, Howard breaks into Ted’s house and steals the Turbo-Man doll from under his tree. He realizes that he is stealing from a child and changes his mind. He is attacked by Ted’s pet reindeer, accidentally setting one of Ted’s decorations on fire, and kicking it out the window trying to stamp it out, drawing the attention of Ted and Liz. Liz, having had enough, leaves with Jamie, Ted, and his son Johnny to the local Christmas parade; Howard follows, aiming to make amends.At the parade, Ted makes a pass at Liz and she hits him with a thermos of eggnog. Howard witnesses Ted’s actions from a distance, and on his way to confront him, he runs into Officer Hummel, spilling his hot coffee all over him. Howard runs and Hummell chases him, and Howard enters a room where he is mistaken as the replacement actor for Turbo-Man. As the “real” Turbo-Man, he presents the coveted limited-edition Turbo-Man doll to his son. Before he recognizes his father, Jamie is chased by Myron, who has dressed as Turbo-Man’s arch enemy Dementor (having caught, tied up and gagged the real actor). As the crowd assumes this is all part of the show, Howard attempts to rescue his son by utilizing the Turbo-Man suit’s equipment.Howard catches Jamie as he falls from a roof and reveals himself to his son. Officer Hummell gives the doll to Jamie, then asks Howard (as Turbo-Man) to join the police force, saluting him. Howard turns and reveals himself and Hummell is dumbfounded, as Howard apologizes for all the trouble. Myron is arrested while ranting about having to explain his failure to get the Turbo-Man toy for his son. Jamie decides to give the doll to him, telling Howard that he has “the real Turbo-Man at home.” Later, Howard puts the star on the top of his tree and celebrates Christmas with Jamie and Liz. Liz commends Howard for everything he’s done just to make Jamie happy, and then asks Howard what he got her for Christmas. Howard stares in shock at the camera before the fadeout.This film shows the insanity of Christmas. Two parents, who waited untill the last minute to buy a popular gift for their child, spend all of Christmas Eve trying to come up with the toy. They were vicious and violent with each other in their efforts to secure the piece of plastic junk for their little darling. This picture shows just how goofy people act at this time of year. Instead of preparing, most folks wait till it is too late; all in the name of Christmas spirit.  How true of real life. A funny movie on one hand, a tragedy on the other. Look and learn.

REVIEW: ONE WAY OUT

CAST

James Belushi (Red Heat)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Angela Featherstone (The Weddign Singer)
Guylaine St-Onge (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Langedijk (Darkman II)

4d07a95b6e41Harry Woltz is a homicide cop with a gambling problem; a problem that leaves him owing a great deal of money to the Russell brothers. To clear the debt they ask him to train John Farrow to murder his wife, Evans, without leaving the usual clues or making the usual mistakes. However when Harry’s ex-partner is put on the case, she begins to get closer than Harry had thought before the case takes some unexpected twists.936full-one-way-out-screenshotTheir are a good few plot twists to keep you interested to the end of the movie, but most are predictable to us as we have seen them in many other similar movies.

 

 

REVIEW: SEPERATE LIVES

CAST

Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Vera Miles (The Searchers)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Drew Snyder (Commando)
Mark Lindsay Chapman (Swamp Thing: The Series)
Jackie Debatin (Skeleton Man)

Dr. Lauren Porter’s friend was killed a few years ago. Tom Beckwith, an ex-cop who gave up the profession after his wife died, follows Lauren’s classes in order to become a psychiatrist. He learns that Lauren has a personality disorder after she convinces him to follow her with a camera and film her. On his first tailing, Tom is beaten by a nightclub’s owner who also turns out to be the boyfriend of Lauren’s alter ego, Lena. Tom quits, but Lauren persuades him to reconsider. They confide in each other about their respective families. Tom is having a hard time raising his tomboyish daughter Ronnie alone while Lauren confides she was the only witness for her mother and stepfather’s murders. Her real father, meanwhile, has moved on and is now a happy husband and father again. Tom tries to connect with his ex-colleagues in investigating the murders. He learns that Lauren has an ex-husband, Charles, with whom she stayed on good terms. However, Charles is soon killed.

Tom decides to invite Lauren home for a dinner, where she makes Ronnie understand that despite any personal problems, Tom is still her father and cares about her. Believing the solution can be found at Lauren’s childhood house, Tom drives her there. They discover that Lauren’s dad is the real culprit. He manipulated his daughter, the only witness, by saying that she was as responsible as he was. Tom is shot in the arm but manages to disarm Lauren’s dad, who falls out a window and dies. Tom promises to keep in touch with Lauren, who is committed to an asylum. Before he departs, they kiss.

This is a good movie, but it does feel rather like a TV movie they show on a Saturday night. Both James and Linda did a good job in their roles, but at times the plot was a bit bizarre – but at the same time it made you want to know what was going to happen to them. You’d definitely class this as a B Movie, which surprises me as James Belushi and Linda Hamilton have had great roles in cinema before.

 

REVIEW: LAST ACTION HERO

CAST
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
F. Murray Abraham (Thirteen Ghosts)
Art Carney (Firestarter)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Frank McRae (Rocky II)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)
Anthony Quinn (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Mercedes Ruehl (Big)
Austin O’Brien (Lawnmower Man 2)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Tina Turner (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome)
Angie Everhart (Garden of Evil)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Robert Patrick (Tammy)
Sharon Stone (Total Recall)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (Universal Soldier)
Danny Madigan is a teenage boy living in a crime-ridden area of New York City with his widowed mother Irene. To escape from his harsh reality, Danny often skips school to watch movies at the run-down Pandora movie theater, owned and managed by Danny’s friend Nick. Nick receives the film reels for Jack Slater IV, the latest in one of Danny’s favorite film series about the titular Los Angeles police detective and violent action hero, and offers to show it to Danny at a private screening just before the world premiere. To mark the occasion, Nick tears up a special ticket he received from Harry Houdini years ago, giving one half of the stub to Danny as a keepsake.
As the film starts, Danny is unaware that the stub glows with magic. When a lit stick of dynamite exits the film during a car chase scene and lands in the theater, Danny instinctively ducks for cover. When he comes to, he finds that he is now in the film, riding along with Slater who is in disbelief as how Danny arrived. At the LAPD headquarters, Danny tries to explain how this is all a film and explaining who the bad guys are, but Slater does not accept this. Despite this, Slater’s supervisor, Lt. Dekker, assigns Danny to work with Slater given his apparent knowledge of the villain. Danny leads Slater to the home of mob boss Tony Vivaldi which he saw in the opening of the film. Vivaldi denies any wrong doing and Slater is unable to arrest him despite Danny’s assurance of his crime. As they depart, Vivaldi’s assassin, Mr. Benedict, overhears Danny talking about the ticket stub, and discretely follows the two. That night, Benedict orders an attack on Slater’s home while he is introducing Danny to his daughter, Whitney. While Slater and Whitney fend off the attackers, Benedict is able to steal the ticket stub from Danny.
From the attack, Slater learns of Vivaldi’s plot to kill a rival mob family at a rooftop funeral service using nerve gas, and he and Danny are able to foil the attack. Whitney helps to drive them to Vivaldi’s home, but they arrive just after Benedict has killed Vivaldi and used the ticket stub to create a portal to the real world. Danny and Slater follow. They lose track of Benedict quickly, and Slater becomes dishearted by the reality of this New York City. Danny introduces Slater to his mother, and from her, Slater comes to appreciate the harsh reality instead of the glamorized world he lives in, vowing to take a softer stance. They learn that Benedict believes he can kill Slater in this world by killing the actor that plays him, Arnold Schwarzenegger. After chasing Benedict down to the premiere of Jack Slater IV and saving Schwarzenegger’s life, they corner Benedict on the roof, finding that he has brought the Ripper, the villain from Jack Slater III and who had killed Slater’s son in that film. The Ripper attempts to kill Danny but Slater stops him in time. However, Danny ends up thrown from the roof and hanging for his life. As Slater attempts to rescue him, Benedict mortally shoots Slater and monologues on how he will use the ticket to bring more villains to life and take over this world. Danny uses the opportunity to knock Benedict down, and Slater is able to kill Benedict by firing into his exploding glass eye. The ticket stub flies free to the streets before they can grab it, and with no other ideas, Danny helps Slater back to the Pandora hoping to find a way to return Jack to his world where he should heal quickly due to its fictional nature.
Shortly after they arrive, they find that Death from the The Seventh Seal, pulled out of the film by the loose ticket stub, has followed them. However, it is revealed that Death only approached the two out of curiosity: because of Slater’s fictional nature, “he’s not on any of [Death’s] lists.” After Danny explains the situation, Death suggests to find the other half of the ticket stub before departing. Danny empties the lobby stub box and finds the still glowing other half of the ticket stub and uses it to pull Slater back into the film. There, Slater quickly heals, his wound barely a scratch. After Danny calls for help, Slater tells Danny he must return to his world, and the two say their goodbyes. Danny returns and excited tells Nick of his adventure as Jack Slater IV ends, with Slater tells Dekker of his new insights on the world before driving off into the sunset.
It may be a satire, but Last Action Hero just may be one of the last true action films. Real stunts, real explosions, real destruction, reality gone twisted. It’s Arnold’s most subversive movie, and it’s many things, but bad ain’t one of them.

db.com

 

REVIEW: HOODWINKED

CAST

Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Glenn Close (Mars Attacks)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Patrick Warburton (Ted)
Anthony Anderson (Scream 4)
David Ogden Stiers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Xzibit (XXX 2)
Chazz Palminteri (Analyze This)
Andy Dick (Road Trip)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Tom Kenny (The Super Hero Squad Show)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)

Little Red Riding Hood discovers that the Big Bad Wolf has disguised himself as Granny, just as the axe-wielding woodsman bursts through the window, startling everyone. The police quickly arrive, and Red, Wolf, Granny and the Woodsman are questioned by detective Nicky Flippers about the events leading up to the incident.
Red explains that she was delivering goodies for her grandmother when she discovered a threat from the mysterious Goodie Bandit. Hoping to save her Granny’s recipes, she embarked upon a journey to take them to the top of a nearby mountain where her Granny lives. On her way, she encountered the Wolf, who asked her a series of suspicious questions. She managed to escape, and eventually reached her Granny’s house; however she found the Wolf already waiting in ambush.
What at first seems to be an open-and-shut case becomes confused though, once it is learned that the Wolf is an investigative reporter. He reveals that he was searching for a lead on the identity of the Goodie Bandit, and had reason to believe that Granny and Red were the culprits. Locating Red, he questioned her, hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery. When Red escaped, he headed for her Granny’s house and arriving first, went undercover, hoping to trick her into giving him the evidence he needed.
When questioned, the Woodsman reveals that he is in fact an aspiring actor who was only trying out for the part of a woodsman in a commercial. After his schnitzel truck was robbed by the Goodie Bandit, he went out into the woods to get in character for his role, and spent the rest of the day felling trees. An especially large tree rolled after him, and pushed him through the window of Granny’s home. The investigation then turns to Granny, who reveals that, unbeknownst to her family, she is an extreme sports enthusiast. During a ski race earlier that day, she was attacked by the opposing team, but got away safely after learning that they were hired by the Goodie Bandit.
Despondent over her Granny’s lack of honesty, Red wanders off alone. Meanwhile, Nicky Flippers realizes that the one commonality between all four stories was a bunny named Boingo, and concludes that he is the Goodie Bandit. However, Boingo has already sneaked into the home and stolen Granny’s recipes. Red sees Boingo and follows him to his hideout at a cable car station, but the police pursue him in the wrong direction. Granny, the Wolf, and the Woodsman manage to locate Boingo as he is explaining his evil scheme to Red. Boingo plans to add an addictive substance to the stolen recipes, and then explode the forest, making way for new real estate for expanding his business.
The Wolf and the Woodsman go undercover to distract Boingo as Granny sneaks into his lair, but open conflict ensues. Boingo sends a bound and gagged Red down the mountain in a cable car loaded with explosives, and Granny goes after her, with Boingo and his henchmen in pursuit. Red manages to free herself, and escapes with Granny, while the police, who have been located by the Wolf’s assistant Twitchy, are waiting at the bottom of the mountain to arrest Boingo and his henchmen. Some time later, the Woodsman finds success as part of a yodeling troupe, and Red, Granny, the Wolf, and Twitchy are enlisted by Nicky Flippers to join a crime solving organization called Happily Ever After Agency.
This is a great alternative to the usual fairy storys. A well known tale with a twist. Older and younger children will enjoy the who done it storyline and adults will enjoy the humour. Animation seems old fashioned now but will not detract from the enjoyment.