REVIEW: LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN

CAST
Josh Hartnett (Halloween: H20)
Bruce Willis (Sin City)
Lucy Liu (Charles Angels)
Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Michael Rubenfeld (The Recruit)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and The Beast)
Stanley Tucci (Transformers 4)
Kevin Chamberlin (Road To Perdition)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)
Mykelti Williamson (Con Air)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
During the film’s opening credits, two bookies are separately ambushed and murdered by their unseen killers; elsewhere, a young man is killed by a sniper. In a bus terminal, a young man is approached by Goodkat (Bruce Willis), who tells the story of Max and the Kansas City Shuffle: two decades earlier, Max borrowed money from the mob to bet on a fixed horse race, only for the horse to die mid-race. To set an example to make sure nobody else would try to bet on a fixed race, the mob killed Max, his wife and young son Henry. Goodkat concludes that a “Kansas City Shuffle” is a misleading double bluff, and so tricks and kills the young man, before loading his body into a truck.
In New York City, Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) is staying in his friend Nick Fisher’s apartment and, upon being visited by Nick’s neighbor Lindsey (Lucy Liu), discusses Nick’s disappearance and why his apartment was unlocked. Lindsey suggests that Nick may be missing and, after she leaves, Slevin is kidnapped by two henchmen, who take him to “The Boss” (Morgan Freeman). Mistaking Slevin for Nick, The Boss orders him to repay a large gambling debt or kill the son of his rival, “The Rabbi” (Ben Kingsley); The Boss believes The Rabbi is responsible for assassinating his son (seen in the intro), and wants The Rabbi’s homosexual son, Yitzchok “The Fairy”, to be killed in revenge. Slevin then returns to the apartment, but is kidnapped again by two Jewish henchmen working for The Rabbi. The Rabbi also mistakes Slevin for Nick, and also demands he repay a large gambling debt. Slevin returns to The Boss and agrees to kill The Fairy. Concurrently with Slevin visiting the mob bosses, it becomes apparent Goodkat is involved in both sides and is responsible for Nick’s debts being called in, and he plans to kill Slevin after The Fairy dies (though his motivations remain unknown).
Slevin and Lindsey go out to dinner, where Slevin arranges a date with The Fairy. Slevin is approached by Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci), who is investigating The Boss and The Rabbi; the detective hassles him again later; Slevin reveals his full name. Slevin arrives at The Fairy’s apartment and fatally shoots him, only for Goodkat to appear; rather than shoot Slevin, however, he finishes The Fairy, who pulls out a gun, revealing Slevin and Goodkat are affiliated. Slevin then brings the bus terminal victim’s body, revealed to be Nick Fisher, into the apartment while Goodkat kills The Fairy’s bodyguards. Together they blow up the apartment and the bodies, faking Slevin’s death in the process. Goodkat and Slevin kidnap The Boss and The Rabbi, with both awakening restrained in The Boss’s penthouse. Slevin appears and explains the overarching twist: Slevin is Henry, the son of the ill-fated Max, and the mobsters who killed Max were The Boss and The Rabbi. Goodkat is revealed as the assassin hired to kill young Henry, but after an attack of conscience took him in and raised him instead.
Twenty years later, Goodkat and Slevin killed The Boss’ son and both mobsters’ bookies, stealing the bookies’ ledgers in the process; after finding Nick Fisher owed a great deal of money to both sides, they killed him and stole his identity. As gang warfare loomed, both mobsters went to Goodkat, who agreed to both kill and protect The Fairy on the condition they call in Nick’s debts, granting Slevin and Goodkat unhindered access to the heavily guarded mobsters and Nick Fisher as an ally respectively. After revealing his plan, Slevin suffocates The Rabbi and The Boss by taping plastic bags over their heads, killing them the same way they killed his father. Since Lindsey earlier photographed Goodkat for Slevin, Goodkat shoots her to protect his identity. Finally, it is revealed that Detective Brikowski killed Slevin’s mother when his own gambling debts were called in by the mobsters; Slevin kills Brikowski as the pseudonym “Slevin Kelevra” is explained: “Lucky Number Slevin” was the horse his father had bet on, and “Kelevra” is Hebrew for “bad dog,” mirroring Goodkat’s name.
Sometime later at the bus terminal, Slevin is met by Lindsey, and it is revealed that Slevin, aware of Goodkat’s intentions, explained his true identity to her and helped fake her death. Goodkat appears, aware of the trickery; since Goodkat spared Slevin as a boy, he sympathizes and agrees to let her live. The film closes with a flashback to Goodkat deciding not to kill Henry; “Kansas City Shuffle” by Bennie Moten (Performed by J. Ralph) starts playing on the radio as they drive away together.
A clever film with a twist at the end. I enjoyed it and so might you if you like thrillers with a twist at the end. An all star cast adds to the pleasure.

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER

CAST

Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night)
Michelle Williams (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Adam Arkin (8 Simple Rules)
LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Adam Hann-Byrd (Jumanji)
Janet Leigh (Psycho)
Nancy Stephens (A Time for Dancing)
Chris Durand (Angel)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Lisa Gay Hamilton (12 Monkeys)
Tom Kane (Grim & Evil)

Twenty years after the events of Halloween and Halloween II, on October 29, 1998, Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), Dr. Sam Loomis’ former colleague, returns to her house in Langdon, Illinois, to find it has been burglarized. Her teenage neighbor Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) searches the house and finds nothing. While waiting for the police in her house, Marion discovers a file is missing, the one on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael Myers’ sister who escaped the attacks two decades earlier. She also realizes that someone has been in her house and immediately rushes back over to Jimmy’s house, where she finds him and his friend dead. Michael Myers (Chris Durand) appears, and attacks Marion before slitting her throat, killing her. The police arrive as Michael leaves the house with Laurie’s file.
On Halloween, two days later, Laurie Strode awakens from a nightmare. Since 1978, she has tried to get her life together with the hope that her psychotic older brother Michael would never come after her again. She faked her death in a car accident, and then relocated to Northern California under the assumed name “Keri Tate”. She has a seemingly perfect life with her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett), her boyfriend Will (Adam Arkin), and a job as headmistress at Hillcrest Academy, a private boarding school. However, Laurie is far from happy, as the tragic events from 1978 still haunt her.

Michael finds Laurie using the file, and stalks the school grounds. The students leave for a weekend getaway. Later that evening, John and his friends are having an intimate Halloween party in the basement when John’s classmate, Charlie (Adam Hann-Byrd), is attacked and killed by Michael. When Charlie’s girlfriend Sarah (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) goes looking for him, she finds him dead in the kitchen dumbwaiter with a corkscrew embedded in his throat, and Michael appears. She manages to get into the dumbwaiter next to Charlie and just as she closes the door Michael stabs her in the leg. The dumbwaiter heads up a level and as Sarah gets out Michael slashes the rope, causing the dumbwaiter to fall onto Sarah’s leg, savagely disfiguring it. As she attempts to crawl for help Michael stabs her to death. John and his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams) go looking for their classmates. They find Sarah’s body hung in the pantry and are chased by Michael through the school grounds. At one point in the chase, John is stabbed in the leg by Michael. Just as Michael is about to get Molly and John, they are saved by Laurie and Will, who open the door for them just in time. Just as the door closes behind them, Laurie and Michael come face to face for the first time since their last encounter two decades ago. Laurie and Will hide Molly and John and decide to try to kill Michael.
When Will sees a shape approaching from the far end of the hall, he takes Laurie’s handgun and shoots the shape five times, only to discover that it was the school’s security guard, Ronny (LL Cool J). Michael then appears and stabs Will in the back, killing him. Laurie helps John and Molly escape but she tells them to go for help while she chooses to go back to the school with a fire ax. She finds Michael and attempts to kill him several times, and finally after stabbing him multiple times, he topples over a balcony. She approaches his body and pulls one of the knives out of his chest. She slowly raises the knife high above her head, but before she can deliver the final blow, Ronny suddenly appears, having survived the shooting, and grabs her. He restrains her from attacking Michael and drags her out of the cafeteria. The police come and put Michael’s corpse in a body bag, loading it into a coroner’s van. Laurie, knowing that Michael is extremely difficult to kill and not believing that he is really dead, grabs the ax from earlier and an officer’s gun, and she steals the van. While driving away, Michael sits up and escapes the body bag. She slams on the brakes, throwing him through the windshield. She then tries unsuccessfully to run him over. The vehicle tumbles down a cliff but she escapes, while Michael gets pinned between the van and a tree. Laurie recovers the axe and approaches him. He reaches out to her, apparently seeking forgiveness and compassion. At first it seems she will accept this, and begins reaching out to him, but then she slowly pulls her hand back and decapitates Michael, finally killing him.

Great to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in the role and acting opposite her Mum Janet Leigh which was a nice touch by the filmmakers. The acting is good, the film is fairly scary and Michael Myers return is as jumpy as is meant to be

REVIEW: HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE

CAST
Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
Lena Olin (Alias)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Isaiah Washington (Bionic Woman 2007)
Lolita Davidovich (Santa Fe)
Keith David (The Cape)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Eric Idle (Shrek The Third)
Robert Wagner (Austin Powers)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Valerie Rae Miller (Dark Angel)
Meredith Scot Lynn (Legally Blonde)
Christopher Wiehl (Cold Hearts)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Dwight Yoakam (Wedding Crashers)
Sergeant Joe Gavilan (Harrison Ford) is a financially strapped Hollywood homicide detective who began moonlighting as a real estate broker seven years ago. His partner is K. C. Calden (Josh Hartnett), a much younger officer who teaches yoga on the side and wants to be an actor. The duo are assigned to investigate the murders of four men, members of a rap group called H2OClick who were gunned down in a nightclub by two unidentified assailants. While investigating the murders, the detectives discover there had been a witness in the nightclub who later escaped unnoticed, and work together to track him down. In the midst of it all, Gavilan has to deal with a looming real estate deal that may be the key to getting out of debt, while Calden further pursues his dreams of acting by trying to be scouted by talent agents.
Unknown to the two detectives, Antoine Sartain (Isaiah Washington), the manager and producer of H2OClick, has his head of security eliminate the two hitmen they had hired to carry out the murders of the group, and also reveals to have hired them to kill Klepto, a rapper whom he’d also managed and produced, whose murder case is still open. Initially, Gavilan and Calden had believed the murders were gang-related, but Calden later sees the bodies of the hitmen at the morgue and puts two-and-two together to conclude that the murders were being calculated by someone else. The detectives also notice some eerie similarities between the H2OClick and Klepto homicides and figure that the two cases are connected. Gavilan learns from an undercover officer posing as a prostitute that the songwriter for H2OClick, a man named K-Roc, had suddenly gone missing, and Gavilan believes he is the murder witness they had been tracking. However, it proves difficult to track down K-Roc when they cannot determine his real name, but it is later discovered that K-Roc is Oliver Robideaux, the son of Olivia Robideaux (Gladys Knight), a former Motown singer.
Meanwhile, the arrival of Lieutenant Bernard “Bennie” Macko (Bruce Greenwood) at headquarters unnerves Gavilan—both have had a bad history with one another ever since Gavilan proved him wrong on a case years ago. It also turns out that Gavilan’s love interest, a psychic named Ruby (Lena Olin), used to date him. Macko is intent on taking away Gavilan’s badge, going so far as to try to frame him and place both detectives in interrogation. After they are released, Gavilan and Calden seem to have formed a closer bond, and Gavilan offers to help the latter when he reveals that his father Danny Calden who had also been a cop had been mysteriously gunned down during a sting operation gone wrong. His partner at the time, Leroy Wasley, was implicated in the murder, but later released on lack of evidence.
Gavilan and Calden continue the investigation—they track down K-Roc to his home, where Olivia Robideaux professes her son’s innocence and that Antoine Sartain, the manager of the group, was the real culprit. Sartain had been embezzling money from both Klepto and the members of H2OClick for years, and when they later found out, they threatened to hire lawyers to nullify their contracts. Enraged, Sartain had ordered the murders that were later carried out by the hitmen as a “lesson” to all the other members under his record label. It also turns out that Sartain’s head of security is none other than Leroy Wasley, and that Macko is also in league with him as well.
They prepare to arrest Sartain and Wasley, but can’t seem to find their location. Desperate, Gavilan enlists the help of Ruby, who, after a brief meditating session, leads the two detectives to a clothing store. Just then, Sartain and Wasley happened to drive by the store, and Gavilan and Calden follow suit in a wild car chase that leads them through the streets of Los Angeles, that later separates and pits them against Sartain and Wasley, respectively. While struggling against Sartain, Gavilan manages to overthrow him, and Sartain winds up falling from the top of a building to his death in a dumpster. Meanwhile, Wasley has a gun drawn on Calden and admits to killing his father. But Calden utilizes his acting skills to distract Wasley just as he is about the pull the trigger, incapacitates him, and overcoming his desire to kill the man who murdered his father, arrests him. Gavilan and Calden reunite as LAPD officers swarm the scene in the background, but Macko appears and calls for the arrests of the two officers. However, Macko winds up being the one led away in handcuffs for his affiliations with Sartain and Wasley.
 The next scene shows Gavilan and Ruby (wearing the dress she bought at the clothing store) attending a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, in which Calden was playing a lead role. It is implied that Gavilan successfully brokered the real estate deal, and Calden is giving his all in the pursuit of his acting dream. However, both of them receive calls from police headquarters and leave in the middle of the play. In the end, Gavilan is heard ordering a cheeseburger, saying it would be “a long night”.
The movie succeeds at what it intends to be, a buddy-cop comedy where the cops actually feel like buddies and not hot-headed partners always at each other’s throats over trivial matters. Such an approach may be what you’re expecting, but believe me, the movie feels much fresher the way it is and is all the more enjoyable for that reason

REVIEW: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES

CAST
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Kathleen Turner (Serial Mom)
Michael Pare (Bloodrayne)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil lTV)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
A.J. Cook (Wishmaster 3)
Hayden Christensen (Awake)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Melody Johnson (Goosebumps)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)
The story takes place in the sleepy and decaying suburbs of Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the 1970s, as a group of neighborhood boys, now grown men acknowledging in voice-over (narrated by Giovanni Ribisi who speaks for the group as a whole) reflect upon their life-long obsession and memories of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, ages 13 to 17, and whose beauty had bewitched them as teenagers. Strictly unattainable due to their Catholic and overprotective, authoritarian parents, math teacher Ronald (James Woods) and his homemaker wife (Kathleen Turner), the girls — Therese (Leslie Hayman), Mary (A. J. Cook), Bonnie (Chelse Swain), Lux (Kirsten Dunst), and Cecilia (Hanna R. Hall) — are the enigma that fill the boys’ conversations and dreams.
 The film opens in the summer with the suicide attempt of the youngest sister, Cecilia, as she slits her wrist in a bath. After her parents allow her to throw a chaperoned basement party intended to make her feel better, Cecilia excuses herself and jumps out her second story bedroom window, instantly dying when she is impaled on an iron fence below. In the wake of her act, the Lisbon parents begin to watch over their four remaining daughters even more closely. This further isolates the family from the community and heightens the intrigue and air of mystery about the girls to the neighborhood boys in particular, who long for more insight into the girls’ unfathomable lives. At the beginning of the new school year in the fall, Lux forms a secret relationship and short lived romance with Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the school heartthrob. Trip comes over one night to the Lisbon residence to watch television and persuades Mr. Lisbon to allow him to take Lux to the upcoming Homecoming Dance by promising to provide dates for the other sisters, to go as a group. After winning Homecoming king and queen, Trip persuades Lux to ditch the group and have sex on the school’s football field. Afterwards, Lux falls asleep and Trip, becoming disenchanted by Lux, abandons her. At dawn, Lux wakes up alone and has to take a taxi home. Several years later, Trip will admit to wrongfully abandoning Lux, but ironically confesses that he has never gotten over her.
Having broken curfew, Lux and her sisters are punished by a furious Mrs. Lisbon by being taken out of school and sequestered in their house of maximum security isolation. Unable to leave the house, the sisters contact the boys across the street by using light signals and sharing songs over the phone as a means of finally sharing their unrequited feelings. During this time, Lux rebels against her repression and becomes promiscuous, having anonymous sexual encounters on the roof of the house late at night; the neighborhood boys spy and watch Lux in action from across the street. Finally, after weeks of confinement, the sisters mysteriously leave a note for the boys, presumably asking for help to escape. When the boys arrive that night ready to run away with the girls, they find Lux alone in the living room, smoking a cigarette. She invites them inside to wait for her sisters, while she goes to start the car, leading the boys to believe they will soon elope with the girls. While they wait, the boys briefly fantasize the group of them driving blissfully away on a sun-soaked country road.
Curious, the boys wander into the dark basement after hearing a noise and discover Bonnie’s dead body hanging from the ceiling rafters. Horrified, they rush upstairs only to stumble across the dead body of Mary. The boys realize that the girls had all killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact moments before: Bonnie hanged herself; Mary died by sticking her head in the gas oven shortly after; Therese died by taking an overdose of sleeping pills and Lux, being the last one to go, died by Carbon monoxide poisoning, when she left the car engine running in the sealed garage. But there is no sole explanation why.
Devastated and puzzled by the suicides of all their children, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon quietly flee the neighborhood, never to return. Mr. Lisbon had a friend clean out the house and sell off the family belongings, especially those belonging to the girls, in a yard sale; whatever didn’t sell was put in the trash, including the family photos, which the neighborhood boys collected as mementos. When the house is emptied, it is quickly sold to a young couple from the Boston area. Seemingly unsure how to react, the adults in the community go about their lives as if nothing happened or that the Lisbons ever lived there. But the boys never forget about the girls however much they try, though everyone else eventually does. And the girls will forever haunt them and remain a source of grief and lost innocence for them, long into adulthood. As the film closes, the men acknowledge in voice-over, saying that they had loved the girls. And that they will never find the pieces to put them back together, to understand why the Lisbon sisters went to be alone in suicide for all time.
This is a great film, despite the tragic end. Nicely shot and superb acting. The best film I’ve seen Kirsten Dunst in.

REVIEW: 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS

CAST

Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night)
Shannyn Sossamon (Sleepy Hollow)
Paul Costanzo (Royal Pains)
Adam Trese (Silent House)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)
Lorin Heath (Elf)
Monet Mazur (Just Married)
Christine Chatelain (Final Destination)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Vinessa Shaw (Eyes Wide Shut)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
Griffin Dunne (After Hours)
Terry Chen (Sanctuary)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Mary Gross (Sabrina: TTW)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Natassia Malthe (Bloodrayne 2 & 3)
Stefanie von Pfetten (Cracked)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)

thumbAs soon as Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) makes a vow to stay celibate for the “40 Days and 40 Nights” of Lent, that he is going to meet the love of his life. That would be Erica Sutton (Shannyn Sossamon), who fate throws him together with at the local laundry mat. Matt knows that he is being tested. The problem is that pretty much everyone he knows is in on the cosmic joke.MV5BMTU5MzcyMDUyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTc1NTE3._V1_Matt takes his vow because his breakup with Nicole (Vinessa Shaw) has left him a wreck. He keeps bailing out on successful dates and is becoming obsessed with ceilings. He goes for comfort and advice from his brother who is studying to be a priest and practicing hearing confessions. When he sees the banners for Lent going up he takes it as a sign and swears off sex, including foreplay and self-gratification. Unfortunately, once his roommate Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) finds out he sees this as the prefect opportunity to use the internet to get a pool going on how long Matt can, uh, last. this film is charming in a sexual, occasionally vulgar way, but it is also laugh-out-loud funny and a relatively realistic display of a couple falling in love. Without the sex.