REVIEW: THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

CAST

Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Jane Fonda (Monster-In-Law)
Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Rose Byrne (Spy)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
Connie Britton (American Ultra)
Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita diet)
Dax Shepard (Chips)
Debra Monk (The Savages)
Abigail Spencer (The Forger)
Ben Schwartz (The Other Guys)

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) finds out his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) has been having an affair with his boss Wade (Dax Shepard) for a year. After he moves out, Judd’s sister Wendy (Tina Fey) calls to tell him their father Mort has died. The Altmans gather for the funeral at their mother’s home where they reconnect with family friends Horry Callen (Timothy Olyphant), and his mother Linda (Debra Monk). Wendy is unhappy because her husband Barry (Aaron Lazar) is too busy with work. Judd reunites with his older brother Paul (Corey Stoll) and Paul’s wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn), who had once been Judd’s girlfriend. The youngest brother, Phillip (Adam Driver), arrives late with older, therapist girlfriend Tracy (Connie Britton) and interrupts the funeral.Jane Fonda and Tina Fey in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)The Altmans’ mother, Hilary (Jane Fonda) tells her children their father wanted them to sit shiva (despite the fact that Mort was an atheist), presided over by the Altmans’ childhood friend, rabbi Charles “Boner” Grodner (Ben Schwartz). Wendy knows about Judd’s discovery of Quinn’s infidelity, about which he avoids telling everyone else. Judd also reunites with Penny Moore (Rose Byrne), a girl who had a crush on him in high school. During a family gathering, Wendy drunkenly badgers Judd to tell the truth about Quinn. Phillip laments being seen as the family screw-up, while also flirting with another girl while Tracy watches. Irritated, Judd blurts out that Quinn was cheating on him and he plans to divorce her. Quinn shows up the next day and reveals she’s pregnant with Judd’s child. It could not be Wade’s child as he is sterile. Phillip finds out about the pregnancy and reveals this to the family.Jason Bateman and Rose Byrne in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)The family goes to temple for a service where the brothers sneak out to smoke joints Judd found in his father’s suit. Annie, upset that she and Paul haven’t conceived, crawls into bed with Judd in hopes that he could get her pregnant, but he rejects her. Wendy visits Horry in his backyard, and expresses her remorse over being involved the accident that caused Horry’s brain injury and then leaving him. A few days later, when her husband leaves for a conference, an upset Wendy sleeps with Horry. Being caught walking home in the morning by Judd, she tearfully confesses she will never love Barry the way she loved Horry. Judd spends the night with Penny, and then spends the day with her. But then Quinn calls him out of fear that she is having a miscarriage, and he admits to Penny that Quinn is pregnant. Judd gets to the hospital to be with Quinn, only for Wade to show up. The baby is fine and is determined to be a girl. Upon being asked to leave by the OB, Judd and Wade get into a fight in the waiting room. When Philip and Wendy arrive, Wendy punches Wade in the face. Upon leaving, Wade tells Judd he’s not ready to be a step-dad and leaves Quinn.Jane Fonda, Connie Britton, Tina Fey, Kathryn Hahn, and Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)The next day, Annie apologizes to Judd, tearfully confessing that she only wants a baby so badly and is so frustrated by her lack of progress with Paul. Judd replies that she should focus and remember the things she does have with Paul, the love they share and not let the need for a baby ruin her marriage. Paul walks in as Judd hugs her and assumes they were kissing. Paul chases and attacks Judd as Tracy leaves Phillip for being unfaithful, resulting in the three brothers fighting. Hillary silences everyone by kissing Linda passionately in front of all the spectators and informs everyone that she and Linda are in love, something Mort was happy with. She admits the Shiva was her idea, in order to come out to all her children at once and get them all to reconnect. The four siblings are shocked at first, but see their mother is happy and accept it.Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Corey Stoll in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)One night, when the power goes out in the basement (where Judd is staying), Judd attempts to fix the problem in the power box, only to be given an electrical shock that knocks him out. He dreams of a memory with his father, where Judd had fallen down from his bike as a child, and his father comforted him and pressed his forehead to his, a characteristic sign of affection Mort used for his children. Judd wakes up crying, finally fully mourning for his father. Judd meets Penny at the skating center, apologizing for not being honest. Wendy leaves with her two kids, waving to Horry from the car, tearing up as she lets him go again. The brothers make amends, and Paul offers Phillip a job at their father’s sporting goods store. Judd decides to quietly slip out, and after loading his luggage in his car, steals Phillip’s Porsche 997. The final shot is of Judd driving on the highway to Maine, a place he has always wanted to go.Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)This film was actually funny, but not in a slap-sticky juvenile way. It was a comedy for grown ups in that it dealt with themes that are applicable to 30 and 40-somethings, such as death of a parent, fertility, running a business, divorce, etc., but it was not a heavy film in that it was not a dark comedy. The father who died as the premise for it was never presented to the audience, which keeps his passing from being a sad event and allows for the levity at his funeral to be appreciated. The film generally seems to focus the most of Bateman’s character and his relationships with others, but he carries that role well. In fact, I thought this performance was one of his finest in quite some time. Tina Fey was great in it too. I thought she was just a comedian, but she can act too!. Overall, this film is worth seeing and is a powerful yet lighthearted journey in the interplay between siblings and the event that all 30 & 40 somethings will face at some point: the loss of a parent. If this film doesn’t get you thinking about your relationship with your family members, then nothing will. Not to worry, the family in this film has enough dysfunction to make you feel better about your own.

REVIEW: THE BUTLER

CAST

Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Oprah Winfrey (Before Women Had Wings)
David Oyelowo (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Elijah Kelley (Take The Lead)
Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four)
David Banner (Black Snake Moan)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Adriane Lenox (The Blind Side)
Yaya DaCosta (Ugly Betty)
Vanessa Redgrave (Mission: Impossible)
Clarence Williams III (Puprple Rain)
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Jerry Maguire)
Lenny Kravitz (The Hunger Games)
Colman Domingo (Freedomland)
Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones)
James Marsden (Westworld)
Minka Kelly (The Roommate)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Alan Rickman (Dogma)
John Cusack (Identity)
Jane Fonda (Barbarella)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Danny Strong (Buffy)
Jesse Williams  (The Cabin In The Woods)
Nelsan Ellis (True Blood)

In 2009, an elderly Cecil Gaines recounts his life story, while waiting at the White House to meet the newly inaugurated president. In 1926, at the age of seven, Gaines is raised on a cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia, by his sharecropping parents. One day, the farm’s owner, Thomas Westfall, rapes Cecil’s mother, Hattie Pearl. Cecil’s father confronts Westfall, and is shot dead. Cecil is taken in by Annabeth Westfall, the estate’s caretaker and owner’s grandmother, who trains Cecil as a house servant.In 1937, at age eighteen, he leaves the plantation and his mother, who has been mute since the incident and presumably dies of old age by the time the plantation shuts down. In desperation from hunger, Cecil breaks into a hotel pastry shop, elects sympathy in the elderly master servant, Maynard, asks for a job and is, unexpectedly, hired. He learns advanced serving and mostly interpersonal skills from Maynard, who, after several years, recommends Cecil for a position in a Washington, D.C. hotel. While working at the D.C. hotel, Cecil meets and marries Gloria, and the couple has two sons: Louis and Charlie. In 1957, Cecil is hired by the White House during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration. White House maître d’hôtel Freddie Fallows shows Cecil around, introducing him to head butler Carter Wilson and co-worker James Holloway. At the White House, Cecil witnesses Eisenhower’s reluctance to use troops to enforce school desegregation in the South, then his resolve to uphold the law by racially integrating Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.The Gaines family celebrates Cecil’s new occupation with their neighbors, Howard and Gina. Louis, the elder son, becomes a first generation university student at Fisk University in Tennessee, although Cecil feels that the South is too volatile; he wanted Louis to enroll at Howard University instead. Louis joins a student program led by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) activist James Lawson, which leads to a nonviolent sit-in at a segregated diner, where he is arrested. Furious, Cecil confronts Louis for disobeying him. Gloria, who feels that Cecil puts his job ahead of her, descends into alcoholism and an affair with the Gaines’s neighbor, Howard.In 1961, after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Louis and a dozen others are attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan while on a freedom ride to Birmingham, Alabama. Louis is shown participating in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, where dogs and water cannons were used to stop the marchers, one of the movement’s actions which inspired Kennedy to deliver a national address proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several months after the speech, Kennedy is assassinated. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, enacts the transformative legislation into law. As a goodwill gesture, Jackie Kennedy gives Cecil one of the former president’s neckties before she leaves the White House.Louis is later shown participating in the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement, which inspired Johnson to demand that Congress enact the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Johnson also gives Cecil a tie bar. In the late 1960s, after civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Louis visits and tells his family that he has joined the Black Panthers. Outraged, Cecil orders Louis and his girlfriend, Carol, to leave his house. Louis is soon arrested, and Carter bails him out. Cecil becomes aware of President Richard Nixon’s plans to suppress the movement.The Gaines’ other son, Charlie, confides to Louis that he plans to join the Army in the war in Vietnam. Louis announces that he won’t attend Charlie’s funeral if he is killed there because while Louis sees Americans as multiple races, Charlie sees the country as one race. A few months later, Charlie is killed and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Louis does not attend. However, when the Black Panthers resort to violence in response to racial confrontations, Louis leaves the organization and returns to college, earning his master’s degree in political science and eventually running for a seat in Congress.Cecil repeatedly confronts his supervisor at the White House over the unequal pay and career advancement provided to the black White House staff. With President Ronald Reagan’s eventual support, Cecil prevails and his professional reputation grows to the point that he and his wife are invited by President and Nancy Reagan to be guests at a state dinner. At the dinner and afterwards, Cecil becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the class divisions in the White House. Finally, after witnessing Reagan’s refusal to support economic sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, Cecil resigns. Cecil and Gloria visit the defunct, abandoned Georgia plantation where he was raised. Gloria agitates for Cecil to mend his relationship with Louis. Realizing his son’s actions are heroic, Cecil joins Louis at a Free South Africa Movement protest against South African apartheid, and they are arrested and jailed together.In 2008, Gloria dies shortly before Barack Obama is elected as the nation’s first African-American president, a milestone which leaves Cecil and Louis in awe. Two months, two weeks and one day later, Cecil prepares to meet the newly inaugurated President at the White House, wearing the articles he had received from presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Stephen W. Rochon approaches Cecil and tells him the president is ready and prepares to show him the way to the Oval Office. Cecil tells him that he knows the way, and, as he walks down the hallway, the voices of presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson are heard, then President Barack Obama’s famous “Yes we can” quote is heard as Cecil walks through the doors of the Oval Office.Some superb performances here noteably from Forrest Whittaker giving one of his best performances as The Butler himself and Operah Winfrey giving her best performance ever as his loyal wife with excellent support from Terrance Howard and John Cusack, Robin Williams, James Marsden and Alan Rickman give good cameo appearances as presidents Nixon, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan respectively with Jane Fonda also appearing as Nancy Reagan. Yes it gets very sentimental but this is ultimately a powerful piece of filmmaking from Lee Daniels the director of Precious.

 

 

REVIEW: BARBARELLA: QUEEN OF THE GALAXY

CAST

Jane Fonda (Klute)
John Phillip Law (Death Rrides a Horse)
Anita Pallenberg (Dillinger is Dead)
Milo O’Shea (Ulysses)
Marcel Marceau (Silent Movie)
Claude Dauphin (Le Plaisir)
David Hemmings (Gladiator)

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy  - Stills

In an unspecified future, Barbarella is assigned by the President of Earth to retrieve Doctor Durand Durand from the Tau Ceti region. Durand Durand is the inventor of the Positronic Ray, a weapon that Earth leaders fear will fall into the wrong hands. Barbarella crashes on the 16th planet of Tau Ceti and is soon knocked unconscious by two mysterious girls, who take Barbarella to the wreckage of a spaceship. Inside the wreckage, she is tied up and several children emerge from within the ship. They set out several dolls which have razor-sharp teeth. As the dolls begin to bite her, Barbarella faints but is rescued by Mark Hand, the Catchman, who patrols the ice looking for errant children. While Hand takes her back to her ship, Barbarella offers to reward Mark and he suggests sex. She says that people on Earth no longer have penetrative intercourse but consume exaltation-transference pills and press their palms together when their “psychocardiograms are in perfect harmony”. Hand prefers the bed, and Barbarella agrees. Hand’s vessel makes long loops around Barbarella’s crashed vessel while the two have sex, and when it finally comes to a stop, Barbarella is blissfully humming. After Hand repairs her ship, Barbarella departs and promises to return, agreeing that doing things the old-fashioned way is occasionally best.
Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy  - Wallpapers
Barbarella’s ship burrows through the planet and comes out next to a vast labyrinth. Upon emerging from her ship, she is knocked unconscious by a rockslide. She is found by a blind angel named Pygar, who states he is the last of the ornithanthropes and has lost the will to fly. Barbarella discovers the labyrinth is a prison for people cast out of Sogo, the City of Night. Pygar introduces her to Professor Ping, who offers to repair her ship. Ping also notes that Pygar is capable of flight but merely lacks the will. After Pygar rescues her from the Black Guards, Barbarella has sex with him, and he regains his will to fly. Pygar flies Barbarella to Sogo and uses the weaponry she brought with her to destroy the city’s guards. Sogo is a decadent city ruled over by the Great Tyrant and powered by a liquid essence of evil called the Mathmos. Barbarella is briefly separated from Pygar, and meets a one-eyed wench who saves her from being assaulted by two of Sogo’s residents. Barbarella soon reunites with Pygar and the two are taken by the Concierge to meet the Great Tyrant. Pygar is left to become the Great Tyrant’s plaything while Barbarella is placed in a cage to be pecked to death by birds.

Barbarella is rescued by Dildano, leader of the resistance. Barbarella eagerly offers to reward him, but he says he wants to experience sex the Earthling way. Dildano offers to help Barbarella find Durand Durand in exchange for her help in deposing the Great Tyrant. Dildano gives Barbarella an invisible key to the Great Tyrant’s Chamber of Dreams. Soon Barbarella is captured by the Concierge and placed inside the Excessive Machine (called the Orgasmostron in the french version), which the Concierge says will cause her to die of pleasure. Barbarella writhes in ecstasy, and the machine overloads, unable to keep up with her. Barbarella then discovers the Concierge is none other than Durand Durand, aged thirty years due to the Mathmos. Barbarella enters the Chamber of Dreams and Durand Durand grabs the Queen’s key and traps Barbarella and the Great Tyrant in the Chamber.

Durand Durand prepares to crown himself lord of Sogo, but Dildano launches his revolution. Durand Durand uses his Positronic Ray to decimate the rebels. The Great Tyrant then releases the Mathmos, which consumes all of Sogo and Durand Durand with it. Barbarella and the Great Tyrant are protected from the Mathmos by Barbarella’s innate goodness. They emerge from the Mathmos to find Pygar. Pygar flies Barbarella and the Tyrant away from the Mathmos. When asked by Barbarella why he saved the Tyrant after everything she had done to him, Pygar responds, “An angel has no memory.”

One of the best things about this movie, is the incredible special effects and gadgetry. Long before the flashy Star Wars series premiered, Barbarella contained some amazingly creative costumes, decorations, and scenery in general. The overall tone of this film, was deeply influenced by the uninhibited adventurous spirit, of the late 60s. Especially with regards to its bold, exciting sexual themes.