REVIEW: POINT BLANK (2019)

Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie in Point Blank (2019)

Starring

Anthony Mackie (Pain & Gain)
Frank Grillo (The Purge: Election Year)
Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist)
Christian Cooke (Love, Rosie)
Teyonah Parris (Empire)
Boris McGiver (Taxi)

It’s hard not to like Point Blank, the new Netflix movie starring MCU foes Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo as a mismatched pair who take on a group of crooked cops led by Marcia Gay Harden. It’s the kind of guilty pleasure you watch on a Sunday afternoon with your brother or your roommate or whoever, and no one complains afterwards. Does it break any new ground? Well, no, but Mackie and Grillo share a certain chemistry that makes this an appealing action movie, especially at 80 minutes. And yes, that brief running time (sans credits) tells you all you really need to know. This is a modest time investment, and for action junkies and fans of buddy movies, its rewards are modest as well.Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie in Point Blank (2019)The film opens with a solid chase scene that ends with a painful surprise before we’re quickly introduced to Paul (Mackie), an ER nurse, and his pregnant wife, Taryn (Teyonah Parris). Within a span of 10 minutes, Paul is beaten up twice, and Taryn is kidnapped. If Paul wants her back, he’ll have to free an injured criminal named Abe (Grillo), who is under his care. This lovable tough guy is wanted for murder by the same corrupt cops he’s been trying to expose. In classic buddy movie fashion, the odd couple of Paul and Abe are forced to team up and fight for their lives, as well as those of their loved ones. What little plot there is besides that is doled out via quick flashbacks that hint at Abe’s backstory and why he’s in such trouble at the start of the film. I mean, if you’ve ever seen a movie before, you pretty much know what you’re getting here. So, how’s the action, you’re wondering?Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie in Point Blank (2019)While there are some cool fight scenes in Point Blank, including one set inside of a car wash, and an effective ‘escape the hospital’ sequence, the action wasn’t quite as inventive as what director Joe Lynch pulled off with Everly, his 2014 movie starring Salma Hayek that was largely set inside of a single apartment. Again, the script by Adam G. Simon allows for some fun shootouts and car chases, but nothing you’ll really remember a few weeks later. The other issue I had was that the tone of these action sequences varies from scene to scene. At times, it feels like Point Blank is struggling to choose whether to be a fun buddy film or a gritty action movie. Even its soundtrack is a bit schizophrenic like that, ranging from punk bands like Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys to rap legends like Grandmaster Flash and Eazy E, all the way to classic rock, courtesy of Whitesnake. That’s a fun group of artists, no doubt, but they don’t exactly seem to be of a piece, if you catch my drift.point-blank-frank-grillo-anthony-mackie-netflix-trailerPoint Blank is Mackie’s fourth Netflix project this year following IO, the Black Mirror episode Striking Vipers, and the upcoming second season of Altered Carbon. He’s a solid attraction for the streaming service, and I understand why he’d want to topline his own action movie after playing a supporting role in the MCU. But, to be honest, he’s kind of coasting here. I think Mackie is a brilliant actor, and the truth is, he’s just better than this material, which probably wouldn’t have been greenlit at other studios because it isn’t quite ‘big’ enough. When you get right down to it, this is a seven-person cast (I almost forgot the film buff gangster played by Markice Moore). It’s shot to feel bigger than it really is, which is a testament to Lynch’s ability to accomplish a lot with a little. Point Blank is based on a 2010 French film of the same name, and as Mackie knows all too well with Miss Bala, sometimes these English-language remakes are easier said than done.Point-Blank-Netflix-PreviewGrillo is great at playing a certain type, and fortunately, it’s the type of guy he plays in Point Blank. A take-no-shit kind of guy. He does exactly what is asked of him in this role, but the writing doesn’t exactly help make his character more memorable. Fans of Grillo’s other Netflix action movie Wheelman will love Point Blank, which represents a step up from that film. But I believe Grillo is a more soulful actor — see Warrior and The Grey as proof — and I do wish he was allowed to imbue some of these tough-guy characters with an softer side, though obviously, Abe’s bond with his brother Mateo (Christian Cooke) is what drives his character in this film. So while I’m pumped to see Grillo’s upcoming macho movies Boss Level and Black and Blue, I’m also looking forward to his coming-of-age drama Once Upon a Time in Staten Island, which was produced by Blumhouse in a departure from their horror brand.Point-Blank-2019-Netflix-Movie-Download-Full-Hindi-English-Dubbed-Dual-Audio-720p-HD-WEB-DL-x264-DD5.1-MSubs-1Speaking of Grillo’s brother, he’s played by Christian Cooke, an actor who has been working steadily for the past 20 years, but who has never really broken through as far as U.S. audiences are concerned. The closest he’s come was a lead role in the Starz series Magic City, but not many people actually watched that show. He’s actually pretty good as Grillo’s kid brother, and I liked his somewhat manic work here. Hopefully, it leads to more opportunities for the young English actor. Cooke spends the majority of his scenes working with up-and-coming actress Teyonah Parris from Mad Men and If Beale Street Could Talk, who plays Mackie’s pregnant wife. Again, there’s not a whole lot for her to do here besides act pregnant and give Mackie someone to fight for, but as such, she gets the job done.00698ddaAs for the bad guys, Oscar winner Harden is clearly slumming it here, but she seems to be enjoying every minute of it, hamming it up as the most crooked of all the cops. She’s working in ‘big’ mode here, like The Mist and the Fifty Shades franchise, and I suppose it suits her at this stage of her career. She’s aided by Boris McGiver, who happens to be one of my favorite character actors, having played Tom Hammerschmidt on Netflix’s own House of Cards. I’m a huge personal fan of both Mackie and Grillo, both of whom I’d watch in just about anything, but I won’t lie and say this movie is awesome, because it’s not. It’s a little generic, and at 80 minutes, thin on both story and character development. But, as I wrote above, it gets the job done if you’re an action junkie looking for a quick fix. Point Blank offers likable leads, an Oscar-winning villain, and no shortage of bad words, which may just be enough to liven up a sleepy streaming sessio

REVIEW: MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

CAST

Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Eileen Atkins (Paddington 2)
Marcia Gay Harden (Mona Lisa smile)
Hamish Linklater (Legion)
Simon McBurney (Allied)
Jacki Weaver (The Voices)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
Catherine McCormack (28 Weeks Later)

Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins, and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)In 1928, a globally famous illusionist, Wei Ling Soo, performs in front of a crowd in Berlin with his world-class magic act. As he walks off stage the film audience sees that he is actually a British man named Stanley (Colin Firth). He berates his employees and is generally curmudgeonly towards his well-wishers. In his dressing-room, he is greeted by old friend and fellow illusionist Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney). Howard enlists Stanley to go with him to the Côte d’Azur where a rich American family, the Catledges, has apparently been taken in by a clairvoyant and mystic, Sophie (Emma Stone). In fact, the son of the family, Brice (Hamish Linklater), is smitten with Sophie, and his sister Caroline (Erica Leerhsen) and brother-in-law George (Jeremy Shamos) are concerned Brice is considering proposing marriage. Howard says that he has been unable to uncover the secrets behind her tricks and he admits that the more he watched her the more he believed she really has supernatural powers. So he would like Stanley, who has debunked charlatan mystics in the past, to help him prove she is a fraud.Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Howard and Stanley travel to the French Riviera, but Stanley is soon astonished by Sophie’s ability to go into a fugue state and apparently pull out highly personal details about him and his family. Stanley witnesses a seance in which Sophie communicates with the deceased patriarch of the American family. A candle floats up from the table and Howard grabs it to try to discern what trickery is at play, but is astounded to find no apparent subterfuge. Stanley begins spending time with Sophie. He takes her to visit his aunt and they drive a convertible along the picturesque rocky corniches.Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)When Stanley and Sophie visit his aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins), Sophie is seemingly able, after holding aunt Vanessa’s pearls, to somehow relate secret details of Vanessa’s one great love affair. This finally convinces Stanley of Sophie’s authenticity and he has an emotional epiphany, feeling that his lifelong rationalism and cynicism have been misguided. When caught in a rain storm, they end up at an observatory that Stanley had visited as a child. After the rain subsides, they open the roof up and view the stars.Colin Firth and Simon McBurney in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)At a Gatsby-esque party, Stanley and Sophie dance. As they walk together later that night, Sophie asks him if he has felt any feelings for her “as a woman”. Stanley, who has admired her talents as a mystic and is grateful to her for opening his eyes to a new worldview, is taken aback and admits that he has not thought of her that way. She leaves upset. The next day Stanley holds a press conference to tell the world that he, who spent his life debunking charlatan mystics, has finally come to find one who is the real deal. The reporters drill him with questions, but the grilling is interrupted when he receives news his aunt Vanessa has been in a car accident. Stanley rushes to the hospital, and in an emotional scene in a waiting room considers turning to prayer for solace. That is, if he now has come to believe in divination and mysticism, perhaps he should believe in God and prayer. He begins to pray for a miracle to save his aunt, but is unable to go through with it. The rationality that has been his whole life comes back and he rejects prayer, the supernatural and by extension, Sophie and her powers. He decides once more to prove she is a fraud.Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Using a trick seen earlier in his stage act, Stanley appears to leave the room but stays to overhear Sophie and Howard discuss their collusion in what has been an elaborate ruse. He discovers that Sophie was able to know so much about him and his aunt because she and Howard collaborated to fool Stanley. Sophie was indeed a charlatan tricking the rich American family and was quickly discovered by Howard. Rather than unmask her and stop the ruse, he enlisted Sophie to help him one-up his best friend and rival, Stanley.Hamish Linklater and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Stanley is initially angry at Howard and Sophie but decides to forgive them. In a conversation with his aunt Vanessa, who has recovered from her car accident, Stanley admits and fully realizes that he is in love with Sophie. He finds her and asks her not to marry Brice, but marry him instead. Sophie is taken aback and finds his haughty, awkward proposal unsuitable. She tells him she still plans to marry the wealthy Brice. Returning dejected to his aunt Vanessa’s, Stanley further admits that he fell in love with Sophie at first sight, and, saddened, is then surprised when Sophie, who had arrived before him, knocks a spirit knock. He proposes, she accepts with a spirit knock, and they kiss as the film ends.Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Not a classic Woody Allen but a very pleasant and lightly humorous film that older audiences in particular will enjoy.

REVIEW: MONA LISA SMILE


CAST
Julia Roberts (Mystic Pizza)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Julia Stiles (A Guy Thing)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk The Line)
Dominic West (300)
Juliet Stevenson (Bend It Like Beckham)
Marica Gay Harden (Mystic River)
John Slattery (Iron Man 2)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Kristen Connolly (The Cabin In The Woods)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Lily Rabe (The Undoing)
In 1953, Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), a 30-year-old graduate student in the department of Art History at Oakland State, takes a position teaching “History of Art” at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, because she wants to make a difference and influence the next generation of women. At her first class, Katherine discovers that her students have already memorized the entire textbook syllabus, so she uses the classes to introduce them to Modern Art and encourages discussion about topics such as what makes good art and what the Mona Lisa’s smile means. This brings her into conflict with the college president (Marian Seldes), who warns she must stick to the syllabus if she wants to keep her job. Katherine comes to know her students and seeks to inspire them to achieve more than marriage to eligible young men.
Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst) is highly opinionated and outspokenly conservative like her mother, the head of the Alumnae Association. Betty doesn’t understand why Katherine is not married and insists that there is a universal standard for good art. She writes editorials for the college paper, exposing campus nurse Amanda Armstrong (Juliet Stevenson) as a supplier of contraception, which results in Amanda being fired; another editorial attacks Katherine for advocating that women should seek a career instead of being wives and mothers as intended. Betty can’t wait to marry Spencer (Jordan Bridges) as their parents have arranged and expects the traditional exemptions from attending class as a married woman: Katherine insists she will be marked on merit and attendance, resulting in more conflict.
Connie Baker (Ginnifer Goodwin) begins dating Betty’s cousin, Charlie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) but Betty persuades her that he is only using her his parents have arranged for him to marry Deb MacIntyre. After a disastrous date, where Charlie and Connie very nearly cross paths with Deb’s parents on a weekend away at the shore, Connie ends the relationship, believing Betty’s story to be true. However, some weeks later, Connie and Charlie reconnect, with Charlie saying he has already decided for himself that he is not going to marry Deb, so he and Connie get back together. Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles) dreams of being a lawyer and has enrolled as pre-law, so Katherine encourages her to apply to Yale Law School, where she is accepted; Katherine is affronted when Joan’s fiancé Tommy (Topher Grace) comments Joan “will always have that”, intimating his own expectations of what his wife should be. Joan eventually elopes with Tommy, and professes to Katherine she is very happy—she had decided that what she wants most is to be a wife and mother after graduation and asks Katherine to respect her choice. Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has liberal views and supports Katherine because she sees her as having chosen what she wants in her life and because she has often felt out of place at the school being Jewish among the mostly WASP student body. Her parents divorced after the war and her father left them for a new family. Giselle brazenly has affairs with a professor and a married man.
During “truth or consequences” in a secret society meeting, Katherine confides to the girls that she was engaged when she was younger, but that she and her fiancé were prevented from marrying by the war and their relationship fizzled out. Katherine declines a proposal from her California boyfriend (John Slattery) because she doesn’t love him enough and begins seeing the Wellesley Italian professor, Bill Dunbar (Dominic West). Bill is charming and full of stories about Europe and his heroic actions in Italy during the war. He has also had affairs with students (including Giselle), and Katherine makes him promise that it will never happen again. The relationship progresses but when Katherine learns that Bill spent the entire war at the Army Languages Center on Long Island, she decides to break up with him because he is not trustworthy. Bill responds that Katherine didn’t come to Wellesley to help the students find their way, but to help them find her way.
Within six months of the wedding Betty’s marriage falls apart as Spencer has an affair, hiding it from his wife by pretending to be away on business. Betty seeks refuge at her parents’ house but her mother turns her away, telling her that her home is with Spencer now. Betty lashes out at Giselle in rage and pain and then breaks down in tears while Giselle hugs her. Mrs Warren begs Betty to stay married to Spencer, saying that she should try for a year and that she must avoid a scandal. Betty shows her mother a picture of the Mona Lisa and asks if her smile means she is happy. She answers her own question: “Who cares, as long as she’s smiling?” and warns her mother that not everything is what it seems. At graduation, Betty begins to ask Katherine about apartments in Greenwich Village, New York, but their conversation is interrupted by Mrs. Warren. Betty tells her mother that she filed for divorce that same morning and she is going to room with Giselle. She tells Katherine that she is considering applying to Yale Law School.
Katherine’s course is highly popular, so the college invites her to return but with certain conditions: she must follow the syllabus, submit lesson plans for approval, keep a strictly professional relationship with all faculty members, and not talk to the girls about anything other than classes. Katherine decides to leave in order to explore Europe. In the final scene, Betty dedicates her last editorial to Katherine, claiming that her teacher is “an extraordinary woman who lived by example and compelled us all to see the world through new eyes.” As Katherine’s taxi speeds up, all her students follow on their bicycles and Betty is seen struggling to keep up with the taxi as a last effort to thank Katherine for changing her life.
This is a wonderful, highly enjoyable film in which the social mores and style of the nineteen fifties are well depicted

REVIEW: SPY HARD

CAST

Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun)
Nicolette Sheridan (Desperate Housewives)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River)
Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Andy Griffith (Matlock)
Elya Baskin (Spider-Man 2)
Carlos Lauchu (Stargate)
Stephanie Romanov (Angel)
Hulk Hogan (The Ultimate Weapon)
Mr. T (The A-Team)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Brad Garrett (The Crazy Ones)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Thuy Trang (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Weird Al Yankovic (The Naked Gun)
Pat Morita (The Karate Kid)
John Kassir (Tales From The Crypt)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Talisa Soto (Mortal Kombat)

This really is a love-or-hate film isn’t it? Well I love it. This has got to be the funniest film I’ve ever seen. There literally is a laugh a minute, make that half a minute! Even the storyline is taking the micky out of spy films: the retired agent is dragged back into the service to save the daughter of his dead ex-girlfriend, and save the world of course. The characters are brilliant, the evil genius is a psychotic, armless general; he director of the agency is a master of disguises who hides himself as a sofa, a wall, some curtains and even the floor! Some of the jokes are classic laughs, puns and parodies (the “raindrops keep falling on my head” bit springs to mind) and some are hilarious slapstick. If you like laughing, buy this film!
dTD5PX7w7YC1MhP0pkWHzfS31zw
Secret agent WD-40 Dick Steele (Leslie Nielsen) has his work cut out for him. Along with the mysterious and lovely Veronique Ukrinsky, Agent 3.14, he must rescue the kidnapped Barbara Dahl and stop the evil genius, a General named Rancor (Andy Griffith), from seizing control of the entire world. Rancor was wounded in an earlier encounter and no longer has arms. However, he can “arm” himself by attaching robotic limbs with various weapons attached. Steele is talked out of retirement by an old friend, agent Steven Bishop (Robert Guillaume), and given his new assignment by The Director (Charles Durning), who also is testing out a variety of elaborate disguises. At headquarters, Steele encounters an old agency nemesis, Norm Coleman (Barry Bostwick), and flirts with the Director’s adoring secretary, referred to as Miss Cheevus (Marcia Gay Harden).
On the job, Steele is assisted by an agent named Kabul (John Ales), who gives him rides in a never-ending variety of specially designed cars. They seek help from McLuckey (Mason Gamble), a blond child, home alone, who is very good at fending off intruders. Steele resists the temptations of a dangerous woman (Talisa Soto) he finds waiting for him in bed. But he does work very closely with Agent 3.14 (Nicollette Sheridan), whose father, Professor Ukrinsky (Elya Baskin), is also being held captive by Rancor.
Everything comes to an explosive conclusion at the General’s remote fortress, where Steele rescues both Barbara Dahl (Stephanie Romanov) and Miss Cheevus and launches a literally disarmed Rancor into outer space, saving mankind.
this really is a love-or-hate film isn’t it? Well I love it. This has got to be one of the funniest film I’ve ever seen. There literally is a laugh a minute, make that half a minute!