REVIEW: ZERO DARK THIRTY

CAST

Jessica Chastain (The Huntsman)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Jennifer Ehle Fifty Shades Darker)
Kyle Chandler(Super 8)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
James Gandolfini (KIllThem Softly)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Mark Duplass (Greenberg)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
Jessie Collins (Revolution)
Édgar Ramírez (Joy)
Fares Fares (KIll Your Darlings)
Scott Adkins (X-Men Origins)
Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Callan Mulvey (300: Rise of an Empire)
Taylor Kinney (The Forest)
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
Christopher Stanley (Argo)
Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones)
Mark Valley (Human Target)

In 2003, Maya, a young U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst, has spent her entire brief career, since being recruited for the agency, focused solely on gathering intelligence related to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001. She is reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee with suspected links to several of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. Dan subjects the detainee to approved torture interrogation techniques, i.e., stress positions, hooding, subjection to deafening noise, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and humiliation.After failing to get al-Baluchi to give up information on an attack in Saudi Arabia, he and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man known as Abu Faraj al-Libbi. In 2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the CIA and local police in Pakistan. Maya is allowed to interrogate him, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Faraj to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.Maya spends the next five years sifting through masses of data and information, using a variety of technology, hunches, and sharing insights. She concentrates on finding Abu Ahmed, theorizing that he is the best way to find bin Laden. In 2008, she is caught up in the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing. Dan, departing on reassignment, warns Maya about a possible change in politics, suggesting that the new administration may prosecute those officers who had been involved in interrogations. Maya’s fellow officer and friend Jessica is killed in the 2009 Camp Chapman attack. That same day, a grieving Maya receives an interrogation video of a Jordanian detainee, who claims the man previously identified from a photograph as Abu Ahmed is a man he personally buried in 2001. Several CIA officers – Maya’s seniors – conclude the target who could be Abu Ahmed is long dead, and that they have searched a false trail for nine years.Sometime later, a fellow analyst researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is Ibrahim Sayeed, a suspect who had come to CIA attention shortly after 9/11. Realizing her lead may still be alive, Maya contacts Dan, now a senior officer at the CIA headquarters. She theorizes that the CIA’s supposed photograph of Abu Ahmed was actually of his brother, Habib, as he was said to bear a striking resemblance to Ibrahim and was known to have been killed in Afghanistan, and points out that Abu Ahmed’s death in 2001 contradicts Ammar’s account.Dan uses CIA funds to purchase a Lamborghini for a Kuwaiti prince in exchange for the telephone number of Sayeed’s mother. The CIA traces calls to the mother and quickly identifies one suspicious caller who persistently uses tradecraft to avoid detection. Maya concludes that the caller is Abu Ahmed, and with the support of her supervisors, numerous CIA operatives are deployed to search for and identify the caller. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the Pakistan Military Academy. As Maya leaves her residence one morning, she is attacked by multiple gunmen, but the bullet-proof glass in her car saves her. Knowing that she has been blacklisted by al-Qaeda and there will be more attempts on her life if she stays, her superiors remove her from the field and send Maya home to Washington, D.C.The CIA puts the compound under heavy surveillance for several months, using a variety of methods. Although they are confident from circumstantial evidence that bin Laden is there, they cannot prove this photographically. Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor tasks the CIA with producing a plan to capture or kill bin Laden if it can be confirmed that he is in the compound. An agency team devises a plan to use two top-secret stealth helicopters (developed at Area 51) flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to secretly enter Pakistan and insert members of DEVGRU and the CIA’s SAD/SOG to raid the compound. Before briefing President Barack Obama, the CIA Director holds a meeting of his top officials, who assess only a 60–80% chance that bin Laden, rather than another high-value target, is living in the compound. Maya, also in attendance, states the chances are 100%.The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated when one of the helicopters crashes, the SEALs gain entry and kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. They bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go, but she does not reply. As the plane’s hangar door closes, Maya begins to cry softly.Considering the subject matter of Zero Dark Thirty, a film that follows the CIA’s decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, it’d be little surprise were Hollywood to knock the edges off a little to make it easier for a broader audience. But director Kathryn Bigelow makes no such concession. Off the back of her Oscar-winning feature The Hurt Locker, her movie is a pulls-no-punches, under-your-skin drama. As such, it’s not always the easiest film to watch, but it is an utterly compelling one.

 

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REVIEW: TERMINATOR GENISYS

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CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan The Barbarian)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Jai Courtney (Spartacus)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Dayo Okeniyi (The Hunger Games)
Matt Smith (Doctor Who)
Courtney B. Vance (Flashforward)
Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)

In 2029, Human Resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) launches a massive final offensive against Skynet, an artificial general intelligence system seeking to eliminate the human race. Before the Resistance wins the offensive, Skynet activates a time machine and sends back a T-800 Terminator to 1984 to kill John’s mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). John’s right-hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), volunteers to travel back in time to protect her. As Kyle floats in the machine’s magnetic field, he witnesses John being attacked by another Resistance soldier (Matt Smith). He then has visions from his childhood about events in 2017.
Upon arrival in 1984, Skynet’s T-800 is disabled by Sarah and the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a reprogrammed T-800 sent to protect her when she was nine years old. Kyle arrives a short time later and is immediately attacked by a T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun). Sarah and the Guardian join Kyle and destroy the T-1000 using acid. Sarah and the Guardian reveal they have constructed a makeshift time machine similar to Skynet’s, and that Sarah plans to travel to 1997 – the year Skynet becomes self-aware. Realizing the timeline has been altered, Kyle is convinced that the future has changed due to the warning he received in his childhood vision. He persuades Sarah to travel to 2017 instead to stop Skynet.
In 2017, Kyle and Sarah materialize in the middle of a busy San Francisco highway and are apprehended by city police. While being treated for injuries, Sarah and Kyle learn that Skynet is called “Genisys”, a soon-to-be-unveiled global operating system that is being embraced by the public. John Connor appears and rescues Sarah and Kyle, but the Guardian appears and immediately shoots John, revealing that John is an advanced T-3000 Terminator. While Kyle was being sent back through time, a T-5000 (Smith), the physical embodiment of Skynet disguised as a member of the Resistance, attacked John and transformed him into a Terminator. John was tasked with ensuring Cyberdyne Systems’ survival and traveled back in time to assist them with the development of Genisys.
Able to escape to a safe house, Sarah, Kyle, and the Guardian make final preparations to destroy Cyberdyne’s Genisys mainframe. They head toward Cyberdyne’s headquarters with the T-3000 in close pursuit. During an airborne chase, the Guardian divebombs into the T-3000’s helicopter, causing it to crash. The T-3000 survives the crash and enters the Cyberdyne complex, where it advances the countdown from 13 hours to 15 minutes. Kyle, Sarah and the Guardian plant bombs at key points in the facility while holding off the T-3000.
In a final battle, the Guardian traps the T-3000 in the magnetic field of a prototype time machine. Both are destroyed, but just prior to the explosion, the T-3000 throws the remains of the Guardian into an experimental vat of mimetic polyalloy located nearby. Kyle and Sarah reach a bunker beneath the facility, and the explosion sets off the bombs, successfully preventing Genisys from coming online. The Guardian appears, upgraded with mimetic polyalloy components similar to that of the T-1000, and helps them find a way out of the debris.
The trio travels to Kyle’s childhood home, where Kyle tells his younger self about Genisys and instructs him to repeat the warning in a mirror – critical insurance that the events lead to their arrival in 2017. Sarah, Kyle and the Guardian drive off into the country. A mid-credits scene reveals that the system core of Genisys was located in a protected subterranean chamber and has survived the explosion.
The film is well paced and like the first two films, it is basically one long chase. There is a nice balance between action scenes and character scenes. The action also serves the plot instead of the plot serves the action which is the case far to often with mainstream films these days. The film has the spirit of Cameron’s two films and it is easy to see why he approved of the film.  The film feels like the sort of direction Cameron would have taken had he continued on with the franchise.

REVIEW: TEXAS KILLING FIELDS

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Annbeth Gish (Mystic PIzza)
Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks)
Stephen Graham (Blow Dry)

This is a truly brilliant film, it is based loosely on the case of women who were picked up in the I-45 and dumped in an oil field in League City Texas. It opens out at a crime scene where a girl’s body has been found the two homicide detectives turn up to secure the crime scene. Brian Heigh played by Jeffery Dean Morgan he prays over her, his partner is less close to god and decidedly the bad cop of the pairing. He is Mike Souther (Sam Worthington), who is divorced from Detective Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain) who works in the adjoining jurisdiction and seems to rely quite heavily on their support. She has a corpse too, and then they find that strange phone calls are being made from the bayou area; a place known as the Killing Fields.

As the suspects mount so does the body count. The personal riffs in all of the players lives often get in the way and there are so many ambiguous characters that you are kept guessing for a time. We also have child drug addicts, pimps and some trailer trash low life that all add to the mix. There are moments that are truly scary and not a single performance is bad. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a magnificent job of the Catholic racked with guilt trying to do good in a very bad world and finally cracking in an absolutely convincing way.
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This was supposed to be directed by Danny Boyle, but he dropped out saying it was too dark to ever be made. Well his loss is our gain as Michael Mann who produced this got his daughter to do the project Ami Canaan Mann, and I think she has shown that genius can be in your genes.

Not a typical Hollywood film but it is all the better for it.

REVIEW: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
Jason Clarke (Terminator Salvation)
Gary Oldman (Robocop 2014)
Keri Russell (Waitress)
Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four 2015)
Kodi Smith-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Kirk Acevedo (Fringe)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Ten years after the worldwide pandemic of the deadly ALZ-113 virus, or Simian Flu, human civilization is completely destroyed following martial law, civil unrest and the economic collapse of every country in the world. Over 90% of the human population has died in the pandemic, while apes with genetically enhanced intelligence have started to build a civilization of their own. Near the ruins of San Francisco, Caesar leads and governs an ape colony located in the Muir Woods. While walking through the forest, Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and his friend Ash encounter a human named Carver, who panics and shoots Ash, wounding him. Carver calls for the rest of his small party of armed survivors, led by a man named Malcolm, while Blue Eyes calls for the other apes. Caesar orders the humans to leave. The remaining humans in San Francisco, who are genetically immune to the virus, are living in a guarded and unfinished high-rise tower within the ruined city. Prompted by Koba, a scarred bonobo who holds a grudge against humans for his mistreatment, Caesar brings an army of apes to the city tower where he conveys the message that while the apes do not want war, they will fight to defend their home. He demands that the humans stay in their territory and states the apes will stay in theirs too.
Malcolm convinces his fellow leader Dreyfus to give him three days to reconcile with the apes to gain access to a hydroelectric dam in their territory, which could provide long-term power to the city. Dreyfus, distrustful of the apes, arms survivors using an abandoned armory. Malcolm then travels into the ape village, but is captured by gorilla guards, who bring him to Caesar. After a tense discussion, Caesar allows Malcolm to work on the dam’s generator, if they surrender their guns. As Malcolm, his wife Ellie and son Alexander work, they bond with the apes. Mutual distrust of both sides gradually subsides; the truce is endangered when Caesar’s infant son Milo discovers a shotgun smuggled in by Carver, but the two sides reconcile when Ellie offers to help treat Caesar’s ill wife Cornelia with antibiotics. Meanwhile, Koba discovers the armory and confronts Caesar, questioning his allegiance and taunting him over his “love” for humans. In response, Caesar severely beats Koba, but at the last moment refrains from killing him; adhering to his philosophy that “ape not kill ape”, Caesar hesitantly forgives Koba. The furious Koba then returns to the armory, where he steals an assault rifle and murders two human guards. Returning home, he secretly kills Carver, stealing his lighter and cap.
The dam is eventually repaired, restoring power to the city. During the celebration, Koba sets fire to the apes’ home, then, unseen to anyone else, shoots Caesar in the shoulder, causing him to fall from the settlement’s main tree. In the panic of the loss of the alpha and the fire, Koba takes charge, and having planted Carver’s cap at the scene of the shooting, urging the apes to fight against the humans. Malcolm’s group hides as Koba leads the apes into San Francisco. The apes plunder the armory and charge the tower’s gates. Despite heavy casualties, the apes breach the gates using a hijacked tank, overrun the tower and imprison all the humans as Dreyfus flees underground. When Ash refuses Koba’s orders to kill unarmed humans, citing Caesar’s teachings, Koba kills Ash and imprisons all those known to be loyal to Caesar.
Malcolm’s group finds Caesar barely alive and transport him to his former home in San Francisco. Caesar reveals to Malcolm that Koba shot him, realizing his notion that apes were better than humans was naïve and that apes can be as violent as humans. Malcolm leaves the group and heads to the city to find medical supplies for Caesar. While looking for medical supplies, Malcolm encounters Blue Eyes; disenchanted with Koba’s leadership, the young ape spares Malcolm’s life and returns to the house with him, where he reconciles with his father. Caesar grows nostalgic watching a video clip from his childhood of his former owner and father figure Will Rodman on his old camcorder as Malcolm learns of Caesar’s past. A plan is put into action: Blue Eyes returns to the tower and frees the caged humans and apes loyal to Caesar, then Malcolm leads the apes, unseen, into the tower from below. After accomplishing this, Malcolm encounters Dreyfus, who informs him that his men have made radio contact with military survivors at a base to the north, who are on their way to help fight the apes. Caesar confronts Koba at the top of the tower, but as they battle, Dreyfus detonates C-4 charges he has planted beneath the tower. The resulting explosion kills him and collapses part of the tower. Caesar overpowers Koba, with Koba hanging over the edge of the tower. Pleading for his life, Koba reminds Caesar that apes do not kill apes, but Caesar states that Koba is not an ape and lets him fall to his death.
Malcolm informs Caesar of the impending arrival of human military reinforcements and both lament the lost opportunity for peace. Caesar tells Malcolm that the humans will never forgive the apes for the war they started and advises him to leave with his family for safety as the two of them acknowledge their friendship. As Malcolm disappears into the shadows, Caesar stands before a kneeling mass of apes, awaiting the war to come.
The exhilarating action scenes and set pieces are of a grander scale than in ‘Rise’ and with the use of some truly spectacular digital effects that are as realistic as any you will see, makes for an absorbing visual feast. But the finest achievements of the film lie in it’s thoughtful, emotional core, that cleverly aligns our sympathies with both apes and humans and makes for a moving and thoroughly rewarding experience that is far removed from the one-dimensionality of today’s brainless blockbusters.

REVIEW: TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE – SEASON 1-4

 

MAIN CAST
Ryan Reynolds (The Voice)
Richard Ruccolo (Desperate Housewives)
Traylor Howard (Son of The Mask)
Julius Carry (The New Guy)
Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein)
David Ogden Stiers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Suzanne Cryer (Bones)
Jillian Bach (American Pie)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Sean O’Bryan (Yes Man)
Matt Landers (Commando)
Jean Speegle Howard (Apollo 13)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Jason Clarke (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Amy Van Horne (The Amityville Haunting)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Howard Hesseman (Flight of The Navigator)
Harve Presnell (Fargo)
Maury Ginsberg (Voodoo)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Kenneth Kimmins (Lois & Clark)
Kathy Kinney (Scrooged)
Brigitta Dau (Retro Puppet Master)
Jane Carr (The Five Year Engagement)
Suzy Nakamura (Dodgeball)
Jon Cryer (Two and A Half Men)
Dick Martin (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Adam Carolla (Family Guy)
Bobbie Phillips (Showgirls)
Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Conchata Ferrell (Mr Deeds)
Anthony Head (Buffy)
John Ducey (Sabrina)
Suzanne Krull (Go)
Giuseppe Andrews (American History X)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)
Cheryl Ladd (Charlies Angels)
Terry Kiser (Lois & Clark)
James Denton (Desperate Housewives)
Tiffani Thiessen (Saved By The Bell)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Christie Lynn Smith (Swamp Thing)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Bo Derek (Tommy Boy)
Alanna Ubach (Meet The Fockers)
Lacey Kohl (Secretary)
Robin Riker (The Glades)
The series premiered on March 10, 1998, as Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. The episode entitled “The Pilot” was watched by almost 18 million viewers. The story of season 1 centers around the pizza place. Actors such as Jennifer Westfeldt (Melissa), and Julius Carry (Bill) were credited as secondary cast members to principals Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo and Traylor Howard. Mr. Bauer, played by David Ogden Stiers, frequently appeared around the pizza place, telling stories of life events which actually occurred in movies. Pete and Berg share an apartment, on which Peter pays the rent every month, with Berg testing experimental drugs to supplement their income. Pete structures his life around architecture and grad school, while Sharon, their friend upstairs, works for an evil corporation who exploit the Earth’s natural resources, much to her dislike.
The episodes contained storylines including: Pete preparing for a presentation which Berg ruins; Berg stealing the Celtics’ ’81 championship banner; Sharon joining the softball team; and the story of how they all met. Because the episodes aired out of order, the season seems very disjointed. This is demonstrated by the status of Pete’s relationship with Melissa: in episode 8 – “Party” Melissa and Pete are still together despite having previously broken up in episode 5 – “Apartment”.
Season 2 had a more structured basis for each episode. Two additional primary characters arrived, Ashley Walker (Suzanne Cryer) and Johnny Donnelly (Nathan Fillion), as well as the dismissal of characters Bill, Mr. Bauer and Pete’s long-time girlfriend Melissa.
The season starts with Berg’s realization that someone in his class, Walker, is cleverer than he is. This leads to an anticipated romance between Berg and Ashley as they both head down the path of becoming physicians. Jukebox repairman Johnny Donnelly begins a relationship with Sharon. Other secondary characters (Irene, Kamen, Shaun) are introduced throughout the season. Episodes of season 2 include: “Two Guys, a Girl and an Engagement”, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Valentine’s Day” and “Two Guys, a Girl and Ashley’s Return,” all of which mark turning points in the story of the show. Johnny and Sharon break up on Valentine’s Day due to Sharon’s jealousy of Shaun, Johnny’s best friend. Berg and Ashley finally get together in “…And Ashley’s Return,” Pete confesses his feelings towards Sharon, and Johnny proposes in “…And an Engagement”. The season ends with Sharon not giving Johnny an answer as well as her realizing she may have feelings for Pete.
The pizza place is completely abandoned in the third season so that the characters can pursue different dreams. The premiere resolves the season two cliffhanger, with Sharon answering Johnny’s proposal with ‘Yes, in theory’, although she is still holding out on her feelings for Pete. Evidently, Pete flew to Paris after the night’s events and returns completely over Sharon, with a new girlfriend who speaks only French and is revealed to be extremely racist. Berg and Ashley continue to build on their relationship and finally become doctors involved in Psych rotations. The season portrays their relationship as unsteady and completely built on hate of one another. This leads to Berg breaking up with Ashley during the middle of the season.
Ashley lives with Pete and Berg before moving into her own apartment, which was originally Sharon and Johnny’s, who move to the basement to become the new supers. She starts dating Boston Red Sox baseball star Nomar Garciaparra, who appears as himself. Pete finds his true calling by becoming a firefighter. He enjoys the experiences of being an honorary firefighter until the feisty Marti, played by Tiffani Thiessen, comes along to thwart him at every turn. The two continue to take shots at each other until she starts dating Berg, to Pete’s dislike. Pete and Berg get into a huge fight concerning Marti and consider not being roommates anymore.
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When Pete gets his acceptance letter to Fireman Boot Camp, he goes to Marti with open arms and they become an item. Pete continues to hate Berg throughout the final episodes of the season. Sharon and Johnny bicker at one another until Johnny calls off the wedding. When they get back together, they decide that a quickie wedding is the best idea. Irene, Pete’s alleged stalker, agrees to throw Sharon and Johnny a wedding on the roof of the building. This results in her inviting Robert Goulet, who conducts the ceremony and brings Pete and Berg back together as friends during the wedding. At the end of the two part season finale, Pete and Marti leave to go to Fireman Boot Camp, Sharon and Johnny go on their honeymoon, and Ashley leaves to sort out a joke that Pete told Nomar, causing him and Ashley to break up. Berg and Irene are left alone at the wedding and start to dance. The series ends with another cliffhanger as the audience is led to believe something will happen between Berg and Irene.
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 Season 4 continues the story arc from the end of Season 3. Johnny and Sharon are married, Pete and Marti are now firefighters and Berg and Irene are sleeping together. After Berg gets over being on academic probation, he continues to be Irene’s “sex buddy”. The two start sleeping together secretly, hoping that Pete won’t find out. Johnny continues to be the superintendent until Sharon makes him an honorary fireman for the day on his birthday. Johnny decides that he wants to be a fireman, much to Sharon’s dislike. Meanwhile, Berg and Irene become a couple and Pete and Marti break up. Marti leaves Pete for Ashley’s ex, Nomar. Sharon feels unfulfilled after leaving her evil corporate job and decides that she wants to be a lawyer.
When Berg tells Irene that he loves her and she has no reply, Berg goes out and meets someone else. Katie, the girl he meets, admits that she’s been following him for 8 years. However, the two of them kiss and Berg tells Irene. Berg apologizes and Irene breaks up with him for the mailman Roger. In the final episode, Berg assumes that Irene may be pregnant and decides that he must win her back.
Hilarious and just as fun to watch as it was when it was originally aired. Even though it ends as though it could have been carried to another series the questions were answered. Some episodes are not in the correct order so it can be a little frustrating, but this due to the airdate order and not production order, still it’s a great show which introduced us to Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion.

REVIEW: WALL STREET 1 & 2

CAST
Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Hal Holbrook (Lincoln)
James Karen (Hercules In New York)
Tamara Tunie (Flight)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Terence Stamp (Superman 2)
Daryl Hannah (Kill BIll)
Sual Rubinek (Memory Run)
In 1985, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is working as a junior stockbroker in New York City at Jackson Steinem & Co. He wants to work with his hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a legendary Wall Street player. After calling Gekko’s office 59 days in a row trying to land an appointment, Bud visits Gekko on his birthday with a box of Gekko’s favorite, contraband Cuban cigars. Impressed at his sheer boldness, Gekko grants Bud an interview. Bud pitches him stocks, but Gekko is unimpressed. Desperate, Bud provides him some inside information about Bluestar Airlines, which Bud learned in a casual conversation from his father, Carl (Martin Sheen), the union leader for the company’s workers. Intrigued, Gekko tells Bud he will think about it, but also that he “[looks] at a hundred deals a day,” but “[chooses] one.” A dejected Bud returns to his office. However, Gekko places an order for Bluestar stock and becomes one of Bud’s clients. Gekko gives Bud some capital to manage, but the other stocks Bud selects lose money.
Gekko gives Bud another chance, and tells him to spy on British CEO Sir Lawrence Wildman (Terence Stamp) and discern Wildman’s next move. Bud learns that Wildman is making a bid for a steel company. Through Bud’s spying, Gekko makes big money, and Wildman is forced to buy Gekko’s shares off him to complete his takeover. Bud becomes wealthy, enjoying Gekko’s promised perks, including a penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a trophy girlfriend, interior decorator Darien (Daryl Hannah). Bud is promoted to a senior stockbroker as a result of the large commission fees he is bringing in from Gekko’s trading, and is given a corner office with a view. He continues to maximize inside information and use friends as straw buyers to provide more income for him and Gekko. Unknown to Bud, several of his trades attract the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bud pitches a new idea to Gekko: buy Bluestar Airlines and expand the company, with Bud as president, using savings achieved by union concessions and the overfunded pension. Even though Bud is unable to persuade his father to support him and Gekko, he is able to get the unions to push for the deal. Soon afterward, Bud learns that Gekko plans to dissolve the company and sell off Bluestar’s assets in order to access cash in the company’s pension plan, leaving Carl and the entire Bluestar staff unemployed. Although this would leave Bud as a very rich man, he is angered by Gekko’s deceit and racked with the guilt of being an accessory to Bluestar’s impending destruction, especially after his father suffers a heart attack. Bud resolves to disrupt Gekko’s plans, and breaks up with Darien when she refuses to go against Gekko, her former lover.
Bud devises a plan to drive up Bluestar’s stock before manipulating it back down. He and the other union presidents then secretly meet with Wildman and arrange for him to buy controlling interest in Bluestar at a significant discount. Gekko, realizing that his stock is plummeting, dumps his remaining interest in the company on Bud’s advice. However, when Gekko learns on the evening news that Wildman is buying Bluestar, he realizes that Bud engineered the entire scheme. Bud triumphantly goes back to work at Jackson Steinem the following day, only to be arrested for insider trading.
Sometime later, Bud confronts Gekko in Central Park. Gekko berates him for his role with Bluestar and accusing him of ingratitude for several of their illicit trades. Following the confrontation, it is revealed that Bud has turned state’s evidence and was wearing a wire to record his encounter with Gekko. He turns the wire tapes over to the authorities, who suggest that he may get a lighter sentence in exchange for helping them make a case against Gekko. Later on, Bud’s parents drive him down FDR Drive towards the Supreme Court Building downtown to answer for the crimes he committed under Gekko’s influence. Carl tells him he did right in saving the airline. The film ends with Bud going up the steps of the courthouse, knowing that while he is likely going to prison and his career is ruined, he now has a clear conscience.
This is a great movie, and well captured by Stone, who himself had a father who was in the business and wanted to make a “business movie”, to look at the bad guys of the system, and how people’s simple needs often outweigh what they feel is right.
CAST
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Josh Brolin (Planet Terror)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys)
Charlie Sheen (Rated X)
Eli Wallach (The Godfather- Part III)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
In 2001, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison after serving eight years for insider trading and securities fraud. Seven years later, Gekko is promoting his new book Is Greed Good?, warning about the coming economic downturn. His estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), runs a small, non-profit news website and is dating Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a top proprietary trader at Keller Zabel Investments (KZI). Jacob is a protégé of managing director Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), and is trying to raise money for a fusion research project which would create massive amounts of clean energy for the world. Jake is also financially assisting his mother (Susan Sarandon), who has begun a new career selling real estate.
When the recession of 2008 hits, Keller Zabel’s stock loses more than 50% of its value. Louis Zabel tries to arrange a bailout for KZI from other Wall Street banks but is blocked by Bretton James (Josh Brolin), head of rival firm Churchill Schwartz, which Louis Zabel had refused to bail out eight years earlier. Zabel kills himself by jumping in front of a subway train because he cannot handle the stress and embarrassment of losing his company.
A distraught Jacob proposes marriage to Winnie, who accepts, then attends a lecture given by Gordon Gekko and introduces himself afterward. Gekko tells him that Keller Zabel’s collapse started when rumors of the company having toxic debt started to spread. Jacob and Gekko arrange a trade: Jacob will try to reconcile Winnie’s and Gekko’s relationship, and Gekko will gather information to destroy Bretton’s career to seek revenge for Zabel’s suicide.
Jake, aided by Gekko, learns that Bretton James profited from the Keller Zabel collapse. In revenge, Jake spreads rumors about the nationalization of an African oil field owned by Churchill Schwartz. The company loses $120 million, but Bretton offers Jake a job, impressed by his initiative. In his new position, Jake convinces Chinese investors to fund the fusion research by Dr. Masters (Austin Pendleton) he has been supporting. Bretton is impressed even more.
Jake attends a fundraiser with Winnie and pays for a seat at a table for Gekko priced at $10,000. Gekko confronts Bretton about what he did to him and also to Zabel. Bretton mocks him that no one cares what Gekko knows or thinks anymore. Gekko also bumps into Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), and they discuss their shared experience going to jail. Gekko then follows Winnie outside, where she explains why she blames him for everything that went wrong, particularly her brother Rudy’s suicide. Gekko claims he paid for the best therapists and even paid off a drug dealer to stop selling to Rudy, who died from an overdose. Winnie forgives him somewhat.
As the economy starts to crumble, Bretton and business mentor Julius Steinhardt (Eli Wallach) advise federal regulators what drastic actions must be taken. Jake’s mother continues to come to him for large sums of money. Winnie then announces to Jake she is pregnant with a boy. After riding motorcycles together, Bretton reveals to Jake that the Chinese investment is going into solar panels and fossil fuels instead of fusion research, leaving Jake furious and feeling betrayed.
Gekko proposes a solution, using a $100 million trust fund account in Switzerland, which Gekko set up for Winnie in the 1980s, to fund the research and save the company. She signs the money over to Jake, who then entrusts it to Gekko to legitimize the funds for investment in the fusion research company. However, the money never arrives, and Gekko betrays his daughter and Jake by leaving the country with Winnie’s $100 million. Jake realizes that Gekko has been using him to get the money in the account for his own gain. Winnie then tells Jake to leave, no longer trusting him. Gekko is now in London, running a hugely successful hedgefund-like financial company, capitalized by the $100 million. Jake travels there to propose one last trade: Winnie gets her money back, and Gekko can participate in his grandson’s life. Gekko, however, refuses.
Jake pieces together everything from Keller Zabel’s collapse to the economic bailout of Bretton’s company and gives the information to Winnie, telling her that revealing it will bring her website publicity and credibility. Winnie runs the story, and Bretton James is exposed. The investors, including Steinhardt, promptly abandon Bretton and go to Gekko on the back of his $1.1 billion return as Bretton finds himself under intense legal scrutiny by the government. Jake has successfully reunited with Winnie in New York, when late one night Gekko appears and tells them that he deposited $100 million into the fusion research’s account anonymously. He apologizes to them. One year later, Gekko is seen at his grandson Louis’s first birthday party, along with Jacob’s mother and Jacob and Winnie’s friends.
Not quite as good as the first Wall Street, but good enough in presenting a quintessential villain as an expository mouthpiece for the many failings of Western capitalism.

REVIEW: PUBLIC ENEMIES

CAST
Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows)
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Christian Solte (Road To Perdition)
Stephen Dorff (Blade)
Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe)
Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2)
Emilie De Ravin (Roswell)Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Leelee Sobieski (Roadkill)
After killing Charles Floyd (Channing Tatum), FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) is promoted by J. Edgar Hoover (Crudup) to lead the hunt for bank robber John Dillinger (Depp). Purvis shares Hoover’s belief in using scientific methods to battle crime, ranging from cataloging fingerprints to tapping telephone lines.
In between a series of bank robberies, Dillinger meets Billie Frechette (Cotillard) at a restaurant and woos her by buying her a fur coat. Frechette falls for Dillinger even after he reveals his identity, and the two become inseparable.
Purvis leads a failed ambush at a hotel where he believes Dillinger is staying, and an agent is killed by Baby Face Nelson (Graham), who escapes with Tommy Caroll (Garrett). Purvis requests that Hoover bring in professional lawmen who know how to catch criminals dead or alive, including Texan Charles Winstead (Lang).
Police arrest Dillinger and his gang in Tucson, Arizona, after a fire breaks out at the Hotel Congress, where they are staying. Dillinger is extradited to Indiana, where Sheriff Lillian Holley (Taylor) has him locked up in the Lake County Jail in Crown Point. Dillinger and other inmates use a fake gun to escape. Dillinger is unable to see Frechette, who is under tight surveillance. Dillinger learns that Frank Nitti’s (Camp) associates are unwilling to help because his crimes are motivating the FBI to prosecute interstate crime, which imperils Nitti’s bookmaking racket, thus severing his connections with the Mafia.
Carroll goads Dillinger into robbing a bank in Sioux Falls with Baby Face Nelson. During their escape, both Dillinger and Carroll are shot, and they have to leave Carroll behind. The group retreats to the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin and realize their haul is significantly less than Nelson said it would be. Dillinger hopes he can free the rest of his gang from prison, including Pierpont (Wenham) and Makley (Stolte), but Red Hamilton (Clarke) convinces him this is unlikely.
Purvis and his men apprehend Carroll and torture him to learn the gang’s location. Purvis organizes an ambush at Little Bohemia. Dillinger and Hamilton escape separately from the rest of the gang. Agents Winstead and Hurt (Frye) pursue Dillinger and Hamilton through the woods, engaging in a gunfight in which Hamilton is fatally wounded. Trying to escape, Nelson, Shouse, and Van Meter hijack a Bureau car, killing Purvis’ partner Carter Baum (Cochrane) in the process. After a car chase, Purvis and his men kill Nelson and the rest of the gang. Hamilton dies that night. Dillinger meets Frechette, telling her he plans to commit one more robbery that will pay enough for them to escape together. When Dillinger drops her off at a tavern he thinks is safe, she is arrested. Frechette is beaten during interrogation to learn Dillinger’s whereabouts, which she does not reveal; Purvis and Winstead eventually arrive and intervene. Dillinger agrees to participate in a train robbery with Alvin Karpis (Ribisi) and the Barker Gang, intending to flee the country the next day. He receives a note from Billie through her lawyer, Louis Piquett (Gerety), telling him not to try to break her out of jail.
Through Zarkovich, Purvis enlists the help of madam and Dillinger acquaintance Anna Sage (Katić), threatening her with deportation if she does not cooperate. She agrees to set up Dillinger, who she believes will come to hide out with her. Dillinger and Sage see Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theater. After the film, Purvis signals other agents upon seeing them leave. Dillinger spots the police but is shot before he can draw his gun. Winstead listens to Dillinger’s last words. Purvis goes to inform Hoover of Dillinger’s death. Winstead tells Frechette, still incarcerated, that he thinks Dillinger’s dying words were, “Tell Billie for me, ‘Bye bye Blackbird'”. Billie sheds a tear – ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ was the song the houseband was playing when Billie and Dillinger first met each other and danced together in a dinner-club. The closing text reveals that Melvin Purvis quit the FBI in 1935 and died by his own hand in 1960, and that Billie lived out the rest of her life in Wisconsin following her release in 1936.
 Depp at his best. Not too be underrated,  A really enjoyable film.