REVIEW: ST. VINCENT

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
Bill Murray (Zombieland)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)
Chris O’ Dowd (This Is 40)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)
Kimberly Quinn (Hidden Figures)
Lenny Venito (War of The Worlds)
Greta Lee (Sisters)

Vincent MacKenna is a retired grumpy alcoholic Vietnam War veteran, living in Sheepshead Bay who smokes and gambles regularly. His wife, Sandy, developed Alzheimer’s years ago and can no longer recognize him, but he poses as a doctor to visit her and does her laundry. Vincent’s only close friends are a pregnant Russian sex worker named Daka and his cat, Felix. Despite his aggressive attitude toward strangers, Vincent has acquaintances who admire and care about him.
Vincent’s 30-year-old Chrysler LeBaron gets damaged by a tree branch felled by his new neighbors’ moving van. Maggie Bronstein, a radiology tech divorcee, and her son Oliver meet Vincent, who demands payment for the damage. Maggie does the best to provide for Oliver, who is ostracized and bullied at his Catholic school, but is a knowledgeable, friendly boy, welcomed warmly by his new teacher. On his first day at his school, Oliver’s phone, wallet and house keys are stolen by his classmate Robert. Oliver asks Vincent if he can stay at his home until his mother comes home from work. Vincent offers to continue babysitting for a fee.
Vincent picks up Oliver daily after school because Maggie often has late shifts. Vincent’s ideas of after-school activities involve visits to racetracks and bars. The mismatched pair begin to help each other mature, though Maggie is at first horrified by Vincent’s behavior. Vincent teaches Oliver how to defend himself, resulting in Oliver breaking Robert’s nose, who later apologizes and gives back what he stole. Oliver befriends Robert. Vincent and Oliver win a high odds bet on the horses, enabling Vincent to pay off some of his debts. But he gambles away the rest, hoping to make more to keep Sandy in her nursing home.
Vincent is confronted in his home by loan sharks Zucko and Antwan who attempt to take Sandy’s jewelry. Vincent suffers a stroke and Zucko and Antwan leave him on the floor. Vincent is hospitalized and has physical therapy. Oliver, Maggie and Daka help Vincent recover. Oliver’s father, a lawyer, finds out about Vincent and uses the information to get joint custody, with Maggie telling Vincent that he can no longer see Oliver. Vincent becomes depressed after finding out Sandy died while hospitalized. Oliver nominates Vincent, for his “Saints Among Us” school project and asks around the neighborhood about Vincent’s past. Oliver publicly declares Vincent his saint in front of the school’s assembly, who happily reconciles with Oliver. Some time later, Daka gives birth to a child, and she along with Maggie, Oliver and Robert go to Vincent’s house, where they eat and happily talk.St. Vincent is a sweet, lovable film that grows on you with each passing laugh.

 

REVIEW: THE BRAVE ONE

CAST

Jodie Foster (The Silence of The Lambs)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Nicky Katt (Sin City)
Naveen Andrews (Lost)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Mary Steenburgen (Step Brothers)
Lenny Venito (Gigli)
Carmen Ejogo (Selma)

MV5BMTM1NzgyMjgxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTM0NjUzMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1494,1000_AL_On one level, The Brave One is an efficient shocker in which the main character is traumatized by violent crime and then takes matters into his own hands by targeting criminals and meting out justice vigilante style. It’s been done many times on film over the years – and the only major difference in this go-round is that the vigilante is a woman.This movie, however, is much more than just the average revenge tale. It’s a surprisingly moving character study whose main characters are thoughtful and reflective, and their plight elevates this movie beyond the standard pulp-ish shoot-em-up theatrics that typify the genre. Credit for this film’s success is largely due to principal stars Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard.Foster plays Erica Bain, an NPR-style talk radio reporter chronicling the lives and sounds of New York City. At the start of the film, she is happily engaged to a doctor played by Naveen Andrews, and seems fulfilled by her career and the direction her life is taking. One evening, while walking their dog, they are attacked and brutally beaten by some gang members. Bain is severely traumatized and needs several weeks in the hospital to recuperate; her fiancé dies. Shell-shocked by the experience, Bain tries to get her life together again, but after illegally purchasing a gun from the black market, the inevitable carnage begins, as she takes out bad guys left and right as if she were Charles Bronson. It would have been so easy for this role to be melodramatically overplayed, but Foster is fantastic. Always convincing, she runs the gamut of emotions in this movie, and her performance is arguably as good here as in her signature roles throughout her illustrious career.MV5BMTYxNDA5ODgwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTM0NjUzMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1494,1000_AL_

Equally good is Terrence Howard’s turn as the police detective hot on the trail of the serial killer gunning miscreants down in his city. His role is understated in many ways, a good guy troubled by his own demons – largely stemming from an unhappy divorce. There’s a scene near the end of the movie where Foster and Howard meet at a diner that is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity and execution. They’ve become friends through the course of the film, and there’s even some sexual attraction, but the detective has started to piece together what she’s been doing. The two actors nail it brilliantly and communicate so much even in their silences.This is a well-acted and directed vigilante justice film, and I highly recommend it.