REVIEW: MILLION DOLLAR BABY

Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby (2004)

CAST
Hilary Swank (The Reaping)
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Jay Baruchel (Robocop 2014)
Mike Colter (Jessica Jones)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man)
Margo Martindale (Mike & Molly)
Riki Lindhome (The Muppets)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Benito Martinez (Sons of Anarchy)
Tom McCleister (Twins)
Spice Williams-Crosby (Star Trek V)
Kim Strauss (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
million-dollar-baby-clint-eastwood-hilary-swank
Margaret “Maggie” Fitzgerald, a waitress from a Missouri town in the Ozarks, shows up in the Hit Pit, a run-down Los Angeles gym owned and operated by Frankie Dunn, an old, cantankerous boxing trainer. Maggie asks Frankie to train her, but he initially refuses. Maggie works out tirelessly each day in his gym, even after Frankie tells her she’s “too old” to begin a boxing career at her age. Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris, Frankie’s friend and employee (as well as the film’s narrator), encourages and helps her.
Frankie’s prize prospect, “Big” Willie Little, signs with successful manager Mickey Mack after becoming impatient with Dunn’s rejecting offers for a championship bout. With prodding from Scrap and impressed with her persistence, Frankie reluctantly agrees to train Maggie. He warns her that he will teach her only the basics and then find her a manager. Other than Maggie and his employees, the only person Frankie has contact with is a local pastor, with whom he spars verbally at daily Mass.
Before her first fight, Frankie leaves Maggie with a random manager in his gym, much to her dismay; upon being told by Scrap that said manager deliberately put her up against his best girl (coaching the novice to lose) to give her an easy win, Frankie rejoins Maggie in the middle of the bout and coaches her instead to an unforeseen victory. A natural, she fights her way up in the women’s amateur boxing division with Frankie’s coaching, winning many of her lightweight bouts with first-round knockouts. Earning a reputation for her KOs, Frankie must resort to bribery to get other managers to put their trainee fighters up against her.
Eventually, Frankie risks putting her in the junior welterweight class, where her nose is broken in her first match. Frankie comes to establish a paternal bond with Maggie, who substitutes for his estranged daughter. Scrap, concerned when Frankie rejects several offers for big fights, arranges a meeting for her with Mickey Mack at a diner on her 33rd birthday. Out of loyalty, she declines. Frankie begrudgingly accepts a fight for her against a top-ranked opponent in the UK, where he bestows a Gaelic nickname on her. The two travel Europe as she continues to win; Maggie eventually saves up enough of her winnings to buy her mother a house, but she berates Maggie for endangering her government aid, claiming that everyone back home is laughing at her.
Frankie is finally willing to arrange a title fight. He secures Maggie a $1 million match in Las Vegas, Nevada against the WBA women’s welterweight champion, Billie “The Blue Bear”, a German ex-prostitute who has a reputation as a dirty fighter. Overcoming a shaky start, Maggie begins to dominate the fight, but after a round has ended, Billie knocks her out with an illegal sucker punch from behind after the bell has sounded to indicate the end of the round. Before Frankie can pull the corner stool out of the way which was inappropriately placed on its side by Frankie’s assistant, Maggie lands hard on it, breaking her neck and leaving her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.
Frankie is shown experiencing the first three of the five stages of grief: first seeking multiple doctors’ opinions in denial, then blaming Scrap in anger and later trying to bargain with God through prayer. In a medical rehabilitation facility, Maggie looks forward to a visit from her family, but they arrive accompanied by an attorney and only after having first visited Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood; their only concern is to transfer Maggie’s assets to them. She orders them to leave, threatening to sell the house and inform the IRS of her mother’s welfare fraud if they ever show their faces again.
As the days pass, however, Maggie develops bedsores and undergoes an amputation for an infected leg. She asks a favor of Frankie: to help her die, declaring that she got everything she wanted out of life. A horrified Frankie refuses, and Maggie later bites her tongue repeatedly in an attempt to bleed to death, but the medical staff saves her and takes measures to prevent further suicide attempts. The pastor Frankie has harassed for 23 years, Father Horvak, warns him that he would never find himself again if he were to go through with Maggie’s wishes.
Frankie sneaks in one night, unaware that Scrap is watching from the shadows. Just before administering a fatal injection of adrenaline, he finally tells Maggie the meaning of a nickname he gave her, Mo Chuisle (spelled incorrectly in the film as “mo cuishle”): Irish for “my darling, and my blood” (literally, “my pulse”). He never returns to the gym. Scrap’s narration is revealed to be a letter to Frankie’s daughter, informing her of her father’s true character. The last shot of the film shows Frankie sitting at the counter of a diner where Maggie once took him.
The ending was haunting but incredibly poignant. This film was impressive, excellently crafted and definately worthwhile seeing, not least for the excellent performances of the cast

REVIEW: THE KITCHEN

Starring

Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Tiffany Haddish (Night School)
Elisabeth Moss (US)
Domhnall Gleeson (Mother!)
Brian d’Arcy James (Bombshell)
James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
Jeremy Bobb (Jessica Jones)
Bill Camp (Joker)
Margo Martindale (The Boss)
Common (Wanted)
Wayne Duvall (Lincoln)
Annabella Sciorra (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Tina Benko (That Awkward Moment)
Lenny Venito (The Nieghbours)

Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen (2019)In Hell’s Kitchen 1978, three women are married to members of the Irish mob, Kathy and her reluctant but kind husband Jimmy, African-American Ruby is married to Kevin, the son of Helen and heir to the mob empire, and timid Claire is married to Rob, who abuses her.One night, the men are busted by FBI agents and sentenced to three years in prison. Little Jackie becomes head of the mob and tells the wives they’ll be taken care of, but the money isn’t enough for the women to survive. When the women discover that the local businesses paying protection fees are not happy under Little Jackie, they begin collecting protection fees and helping out the neighborhood, making a profit and becoming beloved in the community. When Jackie finds out, he goes after the women, but is killed by Gabriel O’Malley, a former Irish mob enforcer called in by Ruby. With Jackie out of the way, and Gabriel as their enforcer, the women begin running the neighborhood and Gabriel and Claire begin a relationship.Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen (2019)The women eventually are ordered to meet with Alfonso Coretti, the head of the Italian mafia. He suggests they make a deal and tells them he’s arranged for their husbands to be released from prison. Knowing that this will threaten the women’s power, Coretti says he’ll support them and give them more of the city to control, and the women take the deal. When the husbands get out of prison, Kevin thinks he’s still in charge, Jimmy pressures Kathy for them to leave their life of crime, and Rob is furious that Claire has left him for Gabriel. When Rob tracks Claire down, she kills him. After Rob’s murder, Corettti tells the women that a contract has been placed on them by members of their own gang. Ruby offers more money for the mafia to kill Kevin and two other gangsters. The hit goes through, but Claire is killed when a younger member comes back to exact revenge.The Kitchen (2019)After Claire’s funeral, Kathy realizes that Ruby has been paying off one of the FBI agents. Ruby explains that she set up their husbands to be caught on the night they were originally arrested, so she could take over. Kathy later finds that Jimmy has taken her children against her will to Coretti because he was unhappy about not having a place in the business. Feeling betrayed, Kathy leaves, allowing Coretti to kill Jimmy. Ruby asks Kathy to meet her at a vendor. When Kathy arrives, she finds that Ruby and Gabriel are planning to kill her, but Kathy has brought all of the local Irishmen as backup. Gabriel admits he only got back into the life because he loved Claire and leaves. Kathy tells Ruby that the only way the two of them will survive is if they work together, so the women reconcile, with plans to take on Uptown next.The story doesn’t hold any huge surprises, but it is well told, and varies here and there from its source material. There is some graphic violence, and some very ripe language. Generally, I enjoyed it.

REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA

Mrs. America (2020)

Starring

Cate Blanchett (Lord of The Rings)
Rose Byrne (Bad neighbours)
Sarah Paulson (Glass)
Margo Martindale (The Kicthen)
Uzo Aduba (Tallulah)
Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels)
Tracey Ullman (Into The Woods)
John Slattery (Mad Men)

Elizabeth Banks in Mrs. America (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kayli Carter (Rings)
Ari Graynor (The Sitter)
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men)
James Marsden (Sonic The Hedgehog)
Jeanne Tripplehorn (Timecode)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Jay Ellis (Escape Room)

Rose Byrne in Mrs. America (2020)Despite looking back to the 1970s battle over the Equal Rights Amendment, “Mrs. America” is as fresh and urgent as the half-century of political jockeying that has unfolded since those events. Cate Blanchett heads a sensational cast as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, in a limited series — premiering on Hulu, but produced sibling network FX — that’s among the very best of both.The closest comparison, perhaps, would be “Feud,” to the extent the project focuses on warring female leads during an enticing historical era. The cast of characters, however, is significantly broader, with each of the major figures taking turns serving as the focus over the course of nine episodes. On one side, there’s Schlafly, an expert on Cold War-era strategic concerns regarding the Soviet Union who essentially stumbles into becoming the face of opposition to women’s lib as a branding exercise, labeling it “a threat to the traditional American family.”01_gallery_cate-blanchet_02_0052_06_wide-ddccabdac049e9e5ed9e31cb061731491255785c-s800-c85The irony is that the mother of six, who professes to defer to her attorney husband, Fred (“Mad Men’s” John Slattery), not only has a full-time job but is easily the higher-profile partner in this power couple. Arrayed on the other side are the leaders of the equal-rights crusade, each of whom brings their own priorities to the cause, which serves as a source of friction. As a consequence, “Mrs. America” encompasses not only equal rights but race, abortion and gay rights, with activists such as author Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman) insisting that standing up for lesbians will only dilute the message. “It’s not our fight,” she maintains.1_q8CzYu9J7a63FAgW7qdrXwFriedan clashes with some of the other big personalities involved, including magazine founder Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), the colorful Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale, in a part she was seemingly born to play) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba of “Orange is the New Black”), the trailblazing African-American congresswomen who mounted a 1972 presidential run.Tracey Ullman stars as Betty Friedan in Mrs AmericaFor her part, Schlafly wrestles with trying to keep her organization separate from those parts of the right aligned with racism and extremism, a distinction that become increasingly difficult to maintain. Her allies include a composite character played by Sarah Paulson, whose prominence alongside the real-life figures is one of the few faulty notes in this otherwise splendid effort.screenshot-2020-04-12-at-16.00.45Produced by Dahvi Waller (another “Mad Men” veteran, appropriately), with “Captain Marvel” team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck directing four of the nine episodes, “Mrs. America” brilliantly replicates the period, from the styles and casual sexism on display to the seemingly unlimited song budget. Steinem’s looks are frequently mentioned (she’s referred to as “Glinda,” from “The Wizard of Oz,” versus Friedan’s Wicked Witch), and at one point a financial benefactor casually talks about her great legs. In the process, the miniseries captures the chess match among the combatants, and the ups, downs and indignities associated with being a woman in the public square — especially then, but in ways sadly relevant to anyone with a Twitter account. “No one likes feminists,” Fred Schlafly says, sounding as if he’s channeling Rush Limbaugh. “Not even liberals.”Screen-Shot-2020-04-14-at-5.53.27-PM-998x626The structure turns the narrative into an ensemble piece, but Blanchett is pretty astounding as Schlafly, including a televised debate she attempts to bluster her way through by making up a Supreme Court case, only to be called out on the lie. It’s a particularly bracing moment considering the prevalence of such tactics now, even in this age of ubiquitous fact checkers. Although the narrative essentially ends along with the ’70s — “I believe Reagan is our Moses,” Schlafly says at one point — as the closing script makes clear, the ERA fight has continued into the present. While the title plays off patriotism and beauty pageants, as quality TV goes, “Mrs. America” earns a different kind of crown. And whenever the TV awards business gets back on its feet, that might yield some hardware as accessories to go with it.

REVIEW: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

CAST

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Ewan McGregor (Big Fish)
Margo Martindale (Orphan)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Dermot Mulroney (The Grey)
Julianne Nicholson (Kinsey)
Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Newell Alexander (Sordid Lives)

17xp-anderson1-articleLargeThe title designates time and location: an unusually hot August in a rural area outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), an alcoholic, once-noted poet, interviews and hires a young native American woman Johnna (Misty Upham) as a live-in cook and caregiver for his strong-willed and contentious wife Violet (Meryl Streep), who is suffering from oral cancer and addiction to narcotics. Shortly after this, he disappears from the house, and Violet calls her sister and daughters for support. Her sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) arrives with husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper). Violet’s middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is single and the only one living locally; Barbara (Julia Roberts), her oldest, who has inherited her mother’s mean streak, arrives from Colorado with her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Barbara and Bill are separated, but they put up a united front for Violet.After five days, the sheriff arrives with the news that Beverly took his boat out on the lake and has drowned. Youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives with the latest in a string of boyfriends, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a sleazy Florida businessman whom she introduces as her fiancé. Mattie Fae and Charles’s shy, awkward son “Little Charles” (Benedict Cumberbatch) misses the funeral because he overslept and is met at the bus station by his father. Charles loves his son, whereas Mattie constantly belittles him. Ivy confides to Barbara that she is in love with her cousin, “Little Charles”, who plans to move to New York, and she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy. She feels this is her only chance to finally marry.The family sits down to dinner after the funeral, fueled by Violet’s brutal “truth telling”, which results in Barbara pouncing on her mother. She decides she has had enough of her mother’s drug addiction and confiscates all her several kinds of pills. Later, after Violet has had a chance to sober up, she has a tender moment with her daughters and shares a story that demonstrates how cruel her own mother was when she longed for a new pair of cowgirl boots when she was in her early teens.As “Little Charles” sings Ivy a song he has written for her, Mattie Fae walks in and berates him. This exhausts Charles’s patience with his wife’s lack of love and compassion for her son, and he threatens to leave her if she keeps it up. Mattie subsequently reveals to Barbara, who unintentionally listened in, that she had a long-ago affair with Beverly, and Charles is in fact their younger half-brother and that is the true reason why Ivy and “Little Charles” cannot be together. That evening, Steve and Jean are playfully sharing a joint of marijuana. Johnna sees this and, sensing that he intends on molesting her, goes after him with a shovel. Barbara confronts Jean and slaps her. This impels Bill to take Jean back to Colorado, leaving Barbara. Karen also leaves with Steve.Later, Ivy tries to tell her mother about her love for “Little Charles”. Barbara tries to deflect the admission. Violet tells Ivy Charles is actually her brother, something she knew all along. Ivy leaves and promises to never come back. In the last confrontation between Violet and Barbara, Violet admits she was contacted by Beverly from his motel the week after he had left home, but did nothing to help him until after she removed money from the couple’s joint safe deposit box. By this time he had already drowned. This revelation leads Barbara to depart, realizing that her mother has slipped beyond help. Violet is left with only Johnna. Barbara is driving through the plains, stops, gets out of the car, cries then gets back in the car and follows signage showing highways and number of miles to Wichita, Salina and Denver.Fantastic film – see it if you enjoy witty, clever writing, a strong storyline and a first rate cast.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: ORPHAN

CAST

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Peter Sarsgaard (Lovelace)
Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Jimmy Bennett (No Ordinary Family)
Margo Martindale (Mike & Molly)
Karel Roden (Hellboy)
Aryana Engineer (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Rosemary Dunsmore (Total Recall)
Genelle Williams (The Incredible Hulk)
Leni Parker (Earth: Final Conmflict)

Isabelle Fuhrman and Aryana Engineer in Orphan (2009)Kate and John Coleman’s marriage is strained after their third child was stillborn. The loss is particularly hard on Kate, who is also recovering from alcoholism. They decide to adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl, Esther, from the local orphanage. While Kate and John’s deaf-mute daughter Maxine “Max” embraces Esther almost immediately, their 12-year-old son Daniel is less welcoming.Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan (2009)Kate becomes suspicious when Esther expresses far more knowledge of sex than expected of a child her age. When Esther seriously injures another girl at a local park, Kate initially believes that the event was an accident but becomes alarmed when Sister Abigail, the head of the orphanage, visits with the warning that bad things frequently happen in Esther’s vicinity. Esther overhears this and uses Max as a distraction so that she can kill Sister Abigail with a hammer, which she hides in the children’s treehouse. Kate is convinced that something is wrong with Esther but John does not believe her. Esther is allowed by John to play hooky from school. During conversation, Esther tells him that she doesn’t think Kate likes her very much. He says that’s not true and that she should do something nice for her. Esther then presents Kate with roses from the grave of their passed child. Kate grabs Esther by the arm, frantic with the fact that she cut the roses. During the night, Esther breaks her arm and presents it to John. He kicks Kate from their bedroom due to Esther’s request for safety. Kate then buys wine which she refrains from drinking. The next day Esther causes Kate’s car to roll into on coming traffic with Max inside. Esther points out the wine to John, who tells Kate to go to rehab or he will leave with the kids. Kate finds Esther’s hidden Bible and discovers that it came from the Saarne Institute in Estonia, which she eventually learns is a mental hospital. She e-mails a picture and asks for more information.Peter Sarsgaard and Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan (2009)When Daniel learns about Sister Abigail’s death from Max, he plans to retrieve the hammer and prove Esther’s guilt. Esther overhears their conversation and confronts Daniel as he searches the treehouse, setting it on fire and locking Daniel inside. Daniel falls to the ground trying to escape and is knocked unconscious with a major neck injury. Esther attempts to kill him with a rock but Max stops her. While Daniel is hospitalized, Esther slips into his room and smothers him with a pillow but doctors quickly revive him. Kate realizes what Esther did to Daniel and attacks Esther but orderlies help John to restrain her. As John takes Esther and Max home, doctors sedate Kate.Vera Farmiga and Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan (2009)That night, Esther tries to seduce a drunken John, who finally believes Kate was right and threatens to send Esther back to the orphanage. Meanwhile, as Kate is coming out of sedation, she receives a call from Doctor Värava at the Saarne Institute, who reveals that Esther is actually a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer. She has hypopituitarism, a condition that stunted her physical growth, and has spent most of her life posing as a little girl. Värava tells Kate that Leena is extremely violent and has murdered at least seven people, including a family who adopted her in Estonia, whom she killed because the father rejected her sexual advances.Vera Farmiga and Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan (2009)Leena flies into a rage after being spurned by John and ransacks her room. She removes the makeup, false teeth, and body wrappings, revealing wrinkles and dark spots on her face, as well as fully developed breasts and a fully developed body figure. Leena then shuts the power in the whole house and stabs John to death. Max witnesses this and hides. Kate cannot reach John on the phone, so she calls the police and rushes home to find him dead. Leena gets a gun from John’s safe and shoots Kate in the arm, then goes searching for Max, finding her in the greenhouse. While Leena shoots at Max, Kate crawls onto the greenhouse roof, breaks through the glass above Leena, and lands on her, knocking her out. Kate takes the gun and leaves the greenhouse with Max.Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan (2009)Leena regains consciousness and finds Kate and Max outside near a frozen pond. Leena lunges at Kate, knocking the gun out of Kate’s hand and hurling them both onto the ice. Max watches from a hill above, picks up the gun and tries to shoot Leena, but shatters the ice instead, causing Kate and Leena to drop into the water. After a brief struggle, Kate climbs partially out of the pond with Leena clinging to her legs. Leena, hiding a knife behind her back and reverting to her little-girl persona, begs Kate not to let her die, calling her “mommy.” Kate angrily responds that she is not her mother and kicks Leena in the face, breaking her neck. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan (2009)Overall, if you are tired of bad horror films, and want to see a very intelligent and well made film, i would suggest this. Or if you just want to see a great movie see this! I was very surprised at how excellent this movie turned out, and everyone else will be too! Seriously, if you want great, check it out!

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 2

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Nelson Franklin (Captain Marvel)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Josh Gad (Murder on The Orient Express)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lauren Dair Owens (Astrid Clover)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: TVS)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Bill Burr (Zombeavers)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Satya Bhabha (Sense8)
Michael Vlamis (Roswell, New Mexico)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Wedding Crashers)
Nick Kroll (Sing)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Merritt Wever (Signs)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Ariela Barer (Runaways)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The first season of New Girl established the will-they-won’t-they pairing of Nick and Jess and the they-did-will-it-last coupling of Schmidt and CeCe, so the second season is all about raising the stakes for them. For Nick and Jess this takes the form of bad relationships keeping their minds off messing with the loft dynamic by dating a roommate. Though each has some legitimate opportunities for happiness, be it Jess’ commitment-phobic Dr. Sam or Nick’s sexually adventurous stripper girlfriend (played by Olivia Munn.) However knowing that there remains a chance they could end up together leads to frequent self-sabotage.Zooey Deschanel and David Walton in New Girl (2011)As much as Deschannel is the star of the show, Johnson has quietly become just as integral, as Nick grows and discovers himself, with the help of his future self and a water-massaging elderly Asian gentleman (the show can get weird sometimes.)For Schmidt and CeCe, reality is far less promising, as CeCe begins to sense her biological clock is ticking, and finds herself on a course for an arranged marriage to a pleasant man who just isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, the one true Schmidt seeks to alleviate the impending loss of his caramel queen by running back to his one true love, Elizabeth, a girl he dated in college, when he was hundreds of pounds heavier. It sets up a troubling love triangle, as the real Schmidt is just right for Elizabeth, but the Schmidt he wants to be is a perfect match for CeCe.Zooey Deschanel, Maria Thayer, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)While there’s a grimy aspect to Schmidt keeping two women secret from each other, on the other hand, Greenfield makes it work by showing Schmidt cares about both women and is, oddly, doing it to not hurt either of them, rather than out of some sort of romantic greed. It’s an unusual situation, and one the show handles well.The focus on Schmidt and CeCe this season unleashes the show’s secret weapon, as Simone proves to be one of the most consistently funny performers in the series, popping in a look or a delivery that’s just perfect for the situation. Many of the show’s best moments this season grow out of CeCe’s on and off again connection with Schmidt, with the season’s home-stretch existing only thanks to the culture clash that grows from her arranged marriage, Part of what makes her so entertaining is how her exotic beauty gets betrayed to hilarious effect by her ability to be wonderfully silly. (The other benefit of having CeCe around is the presence of her Russian modeling pal Nadia (Rebecca Reid), who is economically hysterical, with a higher laugh to word ratio than anyone on TV.)Jamie Lee Curtis, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)The mix in the loft is why the show works so well, as the quartet of roomies and friends behaves realistically, no matter how offbeat the situation may be or how odd the four may sometimes get. So whether it’s Schmidt feeling old thanks to some hipsters who have imoved in and befriended Jess, the exploration of the group’s most annoying aspects (a.k.a. “pogos”) or Winston struggling with his period, they mercilessly tease each other, but have each other’s back to the end. This is never more clearly illustrated than in “Virgins,” where the crew one-up each other with their horrible tales of their first sexual experiences. The way they interact is as close to real friends as anything on TV.Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)With the series expanding upon the world created in the first season, we get to meet more of the people in the lives of the four roommates, and those additions were rather impressive, to go with returning speicial guests, like June Diane Raphael (playing Jess’ lesbian gynocologist.) The late Dennis Farina had a great turn as Nick’s con-man father, while Margot Martindale plays his brassy mom, Nick Kroll is his dim-witted brother and Bill Burr is his Beantown cousin. Meanwhile on Jess’ side, they snagged Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis to play her feuding parents (and Reiner should become a series regular as her dad). Add in Rob Riggle as Schmidt’s brother, Carla Gugino as his sexually-aggressive boss and Brenda Song as Winston’s new lady friend, and the show managed to cultivate a fine ensemble outside of the core five, expanding and improving the series.Zooey Deschanel, David Walton, Olivia Munn, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The natural progression of the relationships between Nick and Jess and Schmidt and CeCe, along with the changes in the world around them, made for an entertaining season that balanced silly fun with genuine emotion.

REVIEW: MIKE & MOLLY – SEASON 5

MAIN CAST

Billy Gardell (Young Sheldon)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Reno Wilson (Transformers)
Katy Mixon (American Housewife)
Nyambi Nyambi (The Good Fight)
Rondi Reed (The Astronaught’s Wife)
Louis Mustillo (One For The Money)
Swoosie Kurtz (Pushing Daisies)
David Anthony Higgins (Big Time Rush)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Margo Martindale (Downsizing)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Cleo King (The Hangover)
Jenny O’Hara (Extract)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Peggy Miley (Life After Beth)
Sarah Baker (Tammy)
Lauri Johnson (The Cell)
Steve Valentine (The Walk)
Marianne Muellerleile (Charmed)
Joel Murray (Two and a Half Men)
Eric Allan Kramer (The Incredble Hulk Returns)
Brendan Patrick Connor (Spider-Man 2)
Edie McClurg (Carrie)
Jeff Doucette (Bedazzled)
Cheryl Hawker (My Name Is Earl)
Becky O’Donohue (Fast & Furious)
Stefanie Black (Wild Man)

The Book of MollyWhile attending the prestigious Iowa Writing Workshop, Molly sells her romance novel, but the excitement is short-lived as she now faces the pressures of meeting deadlines, taking notes from her opinionated publisher and dealing with her own insecurities as a writer. Aside from living under the same roof as his in-laws, Mike has to deal with his partner dating Molly’s sister, and supporting his wife while riding the roller coaster of being married to a published author. This Season not only shows off Melissa McCarthy’s acting talent more but aslo Rondi reed (peggy) who gets to help Molly write the book. it’s again another brilliant season and the Cliffhanger keeps you hanging ready for Season 6.Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell in Mike & Molly (2010)

Season 5 Highlights are

This Old Peggy

The Book of Molly

Molly returns from her writer’s workshop, much to Mike’s delight. Even better, a publisher liked Molly’s short story enough to give her a sizeable advance on her first book. Mike is relieved because the advance check will almost get him and Molly out of debt, but Molly ruins that when she buys a new car instead.105877_d0274b

Tis the Season to Be Molly

Mike (as Santa Claus) and Carl (as an elf) hand out toys to needy children, then get locked in the back of a truck while loading it. At home, Molly has the whole family on edge as she insists on every holiday preparation being done to her exact specifications. When it is revealed that Molly does this to honor her late father, Vince worries that Molly will never accept him as a member of the family.105242_wb_0071b

Gone Cheatin’

Mike, Carl, Samuel, Vince and Harry are preparing for their annual “guys weekend” fishing trip, when Carl irritates the group by announcing he has invited Victoria. This causes Mike to feel like he has to invite Molly, and Vince follows suit by inviting Joyce. As they get ready to leave, Victoria tells Molly she has cheated on Carl with an old boyfriend, leading to an awkward drive to the fishing site.105315_d01086b

Molly’s Neverending Story

The family is exasperated after Molly proclaims her book is finished, only to decide she wants to tweak the characters again or make it raunchier (as suggested by Peggy’s surprisingly filthy church friends). Mike says she should be confident in her work, then quickly emails the file to Molly’s publisher. After Molly becomes furious, Mike hires Harry to hack into the publisher’s computer.14

The Last Temptation of Mike

A rookie female cop named Stacey (Sarah Baker) playfully flirts with Mike at work, but things escalate when she surprises him with a kiss after hours. A guilt-ridden Mike decides to tell Molly, who then goes on the attack.Melissa McCarthy and Becky O'Donohue in Mike & Molly (2010)

Hack To The Future

Molly meets Xander (Steve Valentine), her publisher, for the first time. While he is praiseworthy, he feels the book could become a phenomenon if Molly works time travel into it. Expecting a big windfall upon hearing the news, Mike splurges on some new clothing. After several failed attempts at doing the publisher’s bidding, however, Molly ultimately tricks him into accepting her original draft.Swoosie Kurtz in Mike & Molly (2010)

Checkpoint Joyce

While Mike and Carl are working a drunk driving checkpoint, Joyce pulls up. Mike intends to let her through after she answers a few questions, but she is belligerent and insulting so he hauls her into the station. After a few members of the household suggest to Joyce that she cut back on her drinking, she lashes out and insists that they all give up their various vices.Mike & Molly

The World According to Peggy

Peggy announces that she is retiring, and Molly organizes a party for her. She goes to the school to invite some fellow lunch ladies, and learns that Peggy didn’t retire, she was fired. Mike insists they must have the party anyway and go along with Peggy’s lie, something he’s learned to do over the years.105817_d0050b

What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy?

While interviewing Peggy to get a back story for the next book, Molly comes across a corn husk doll that Peggy’s own mother made for her. Peggy clams up and won’t speak about her past anymore, then later shows up drunk at the Flynn house. Mike insists his family doesn’t talk about their feelings, but Molly persists and eventually gets to the root of Peggy’s misgivings. When Mike finds out from Molly, he leaves to go hug his mom.Mike-Molly-Mudlick-or-Bust-Season-5-Episode-17-03

Mudlick or Bust

Needing to get a better feel for Peggy’s home town to write her story, Molly decides the two must take a road trip to Mudlick, Missouri. Molly secretly arranges a reunion between Peggy and her estranged sister Rosemary (Margo Martindale), which turns out badly when it is clear that Rosemary still harbors a 50-year old grudge. At home, Vince gets Mike involved in betting on the NCAA Basketball Tournament games.Mike-Molly-5x17

No Kay Morale

Kay (Kathy Bates) returns, and Peggy and Molly fight for her attention as usual. Molly notices Kay has lost her joy and drive, and tries to help her find it again. Meanwhile, Mike and Carl deal with a protest downtown that Kay surprisingly becomes a part of.

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The Bitter Man and The Sea

It’s Mike and Molly’s third anniversary, and Mike makes plans to take Molly and the family on a cruise of Lake Michigan. However, bad blood is still lingering between Carl and Victoria, so Mike has to uninvite Carl even though Carl gave him the idea for the cruise. While Molly is thrilled with the cruise, the situation puts Mike’s relationship with his partner and best friend in jeopardy.Mike-Molly-5x22Season 5 was a great season though the network could of aired it better, the show remains a classic sitcom, the cliffhanger is once again great and makes you want to know what will happen in the final season to see the resolution.

REVIEW: DAYS OF THUNDER

CAST

Tom Cruise (The Mummy)
Nicole Kidman (Australia)
Robert Duvall (The 6th Day)
Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
John C. Reilly (We Need To Talk About Kevin)
J. C. Quinn (The Abyss)
Caroline Williams (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III)
Leilani Sarelle (Shag)
Chris Ellis (Armageddon)
Margo Martindale (August: Osage County)

daysofthunder_leadCole Trickle is a young racer from Eagle Rock, California, with years of experience in open-wheel racing, winning championships in the United States Auto Club (USAC). His goal was to win the Indianapolis 500, but realizes that “You can’t win at Indy without a great car and my name isn’t Andretti or Unser”. He is recruited by Chevrolet dealership tycoon Tim Daland to race for his team in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Daland also convinces former crew chief and car builder Harry Hogge to come out of retirement and lead Cole’s pit crew. After Trickle sets a fast time in a private test at Charlotte, Hogge builds him a new Chevrolet Lumina to drive in the Winston Cup, though the season has already started.Szybki-Jak-BlyskawicaDuring his first few races, Cole has difficulty adjusting to the larger NASCAR stock cars and communicating with his crew while being intimidated on the track by Winston Cup Champion Rowdy Burns; this results in Cole not finishing the races, mostly due to crashes and blown engines. After discovering that Cole does not understand the common terminology used by NASCAR teams, Harry puts him through rigorous training. This pays off at the Darlington race, when Cole uses a slingshot maneuver from the outside line to overtake Rowdy and win his first race.Tom-CruiseThe rivalry between Cole and Rowdy intensifies throughout the season until tragedy strikes. At the Firecracker 400 in Daytona, both drivers are seriously injured after their cars are destroyed in a multi-car wreck. While recovering from his injuries in Daytona Beach, Cole develops a romantic relationship with Dr. Claire Lewicki, a neurosurgeon at Halifax Hospital who was senior doctor on duty when he was brought in after his crash and who was attending to his health. At the same time, NASCAR president Big John, brings Rowdy and Cole together in a meeting and warns them that he and his sport will no longer tolerate any hanky-panky from the two rivals. Afterwards, Cole and Rowdy go out to lunch together by Big John’s persuasion, and settle their differences by banging rental cars on the beach. Cole and Rowdy change from bitter rivals to close friends.Days of Thunder Tom Cruise ©Paramount Pictures for Sky Cinema publicity onlyAs Cole is still undergoing therapy, Daland hires hot-shot rookie Russ Wheeler as a substitute to fill the seat. Weeks later, Cole returns to active duty, with Daland now fielding two teams – the second car driven by Wheeler which Harry disapproves of. Though Cole shows signs of his old self, he now finds himself in a rivalry with his new teammate with no help from his inexperienced owner. At North Wilkesboro, Russ gets dirty on the pit path and pulls his car into his pit box (directly in front of Cole’s pit box) diagonally so as to block Cole from exiting his box until Russ’s pit stop was complete. Russ also forces Cole into the outside wall in a move on the last lap causing Cole to spin and finish down in the standings. Russ goes on to win the race. In retaliation, Cole crashes his car into Russ’s car following the race, resulting in Cole and Harry being fired by Daland.fullwidth.e6ae7694When Rowdy discovers that he has to undergo brain surgery to fix a broken blood vessel, he asks Cole to drive his car at the Daytona 500, so his sponsors will pay for the year. Cole reluctantly agrees and convinces Harry to return as crew chief again. Hours prior to the race, Harry discovers metal in the oil pan, a sign of engine failure, so he manages to have Daland provide him a new engine. During the race, Cole’s car suffers a malfunctioning transmission after being spun out by Russ, but the combined efforts of his pit crew, as well as those working for Daland, manage to fix the problem and get him back on the lead lap. This sets the tone for a final showdown between Cole and Russ. On the final lap, Russ predicts that Cole will attempt his signature slingshot maneuver from outside, but Cole tricks him with a crossover, overtaking him from the inside to win his first Daytona 500.xxx_20150611_xxx_f01_days_of_thunder_30_aps_148_73709268-e1434036913505Cole drives into victory lane, where he and Claire kiss passionately while they celebrate with his pit-crew. As he looks around to see where Harry is, he spots him sitting alone on a concrete barrier near the teams pit stall. Cole walks up to Harry to ask for him to say something, but Harry is lost for words. Cole asks Harry to walk with him and Harry agrees. As he begins to walk, Harry turns to Cole smiling and challenges him to a foot race to victory lane, and they both begin to race.days-of-thunder-in-charlotteBy conventional standards, it’s a terrible movie. But, somehow, it’s still a fun movie! Action on the race track is similar to the action in the sky in Top Gun. If you’re up for a little escapism and wish fulfillment, then Days of Thunder lives up to the billing. But, if you’re a critical viewer, you won’t be impressed by this film.

 

REVIEW: PROOF OF LIFE

CAST

Meg Ryan (The Women)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
David Morse (12 Monkeys)
Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop)
David Caruso (CSI: Miami)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Byrne (Buster)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Margo Martindale (The Firm)

Alice Bowman (Meg Ryan) moves to the (fictional) South American country of Tecala because her engineer husband, Peter Bowman (David Morse), has been hired to help build a new dam for oil company Quad Carbon. Though Alice is unhappy at this most recent move, she agrees to stay. While driving one morning through the city, Peter is caught in traffic and then ambushed and abducted by guerrilla rebels of the Liberation Army of Tecala (ELT). Believing that Peter is working on Quad Carbon’s oil pipeline, ELT soldiers lead him through the jungle.Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe), a former member of the British Special Air Service, arrives in Tecala fresh from a successful hostage rescue in Chechnya. As an expert negotiator in kidnapping-and-ransom cases, he is assigned by his company, Luthan Risk, to bargain for Peter’s safe return. Unfortunately, it is learned that Quad Carbon is on the verge of bankruptcy and takeover, and therefore has no insurance coverage for kidnapping, so they cannot afford Thorne’s services. Despite Alice’s pleas to stay, Thorne leaves the country. Alice is then assigned a corrupt local hostage negotiator, who immediately urges her to pay the ELT’s first ransom demand: a $50,000 “good faith” payment. Not knowing what to do, Alice agrees, but the transaction is stopped by Thorne who (due to his conscience) has returned to help. He is aided by Dino (David Caruso), a competing negotiator and ex–Green Beret. Over the next few months, Thorne uses a radio to speak with an ELT contact, and the two argue over terms for Peter’s release—including a ransom payment that Alice can afford. Thorne and Alice bond through the ordeal, forming an implicit attraction. They eventually negotiate a sum of $650,000.Meanwhile, Peter has become a prisoner at the ELT’s jungle base camp. There, he befriends another hostage named Kessler (Gottfried John)—a missionary and former member of the French Foreign Legion—who has lived in the camp for nineteen months. The two concoct an escape plan, but during their attempt they are quickly tracked by the ELT. Kessler falls into a river after being shot in the shoulder and manages to escape, but Peter steps on a trap and is recaptured. Kessler is found and hospitalized. In the hospital he claims he heard a gunshot at the time Peter was recaptured, and thus believes he is dead. Thorne can not believe this, but his ELT contact refuses to respond to his calls. Luckily, one of Alice’s young maids recognized his voice over the radio and reveals he is a government official. Thorne goes to a parade ceremony and confronts the contact; he confirms that Peter is indeed alive, but because of the ELT’s escalating war with the government and Peter’s knowledge of the terrain, the ELT will no longer negotiate.At Thorne’s urging Alice convinces the Tecala government that the ELT is mounting an attack on the pipeline being built through their territory. This forces the government army to mobilize, thus forcing a bulk of the camp’s ELT troops to mobilize for a counter-attack. Thorne, Dino, and several associates are then inserted by helicopter and raid the weakened ELT base. They overcome the camp’s soldiers, free Peter and another hostage, and then fly back to the city, where Alice happily reunites with her husband. Thorne and Alice share a final intimate moment before the latter departs with Peter on an immediate flight to the U.S.Intense, realistic, and a great work all-in-all.

REVIEW: THE FIRM

CAST

Tom Cruise (The Mummy)
Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basic Instinct)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Hal Holbrook (Lincoln)
Terry Kinney (Billions)
Wilford Brimley (Cocoon)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Holly Hunter (Batman V Superman)
David Strathairn (The Blacklist)
Gary Busey (The Gungerdead Man)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Margo Martindale (Mrs. America)
Paul Sorvino (The Rocketeer)
Joe Viterelli (Analyze This)

Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is a young man from an impoverished background, but with a promising future in law. About to graduate from Harvard Law School near the top of his class, he receives a generous job offer from Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a small, boutique firm in Memphis specializing in accounting and tax law. He and his wife, Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), move to Memphis and Mitch sets to work studying to pass the Tennessee bar exam. Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman), one of the firm’s senior partners, becomes his mentor and begins introducing Mitch to BL&L’s professional culture, which demands complete loyalty, strict confidentiality, and a willingness to charge exceptional fees for their services. Seduced by the money and perks showered on him, including a house and car, he is at first totally oblivious of the more sinister side of his new employer, although Abby has her suspicions.Mitch passes the bar exam and begins working long hours that put a strain on his marriage. Working closely with Avery, Mitch learns that most of the Firm’s work involves helping wealthy clients hide large amounts of money in off-shore shell corporations and other dubious tax-avoidance schemes. While on a trip to the Cayman Islands on behalf of a client, Mitch is seduced by a local woman and cheats on Abby. Actually this encounter is a photographed set-up made for the firm’s sinister security chief, Bill DeVasher (Wilford Brimley), who later uses Mitch’s beach tryst with that woman as blackmail to keep him quiet about such tax evasions and whatever illegal financial transactions.Mitch realizes he is now trapped, but after two associates of the firm die under mysterious circumstances, he is approached by FBI agents who inform him that while some of BL&L’s business is legitimate, their biggest client is the Morolto Mafia family from Chicago. The firm’s partners, as well as most of the associates, are all complicit in a massive tax fraud and money laundering scheme. The two associates who died learned about the firm’s dark side, and were killed to keep them from talking. They warn Mitch that his house, car, and office have probably all been bugged. The FBI pressures Mitch to provide the Bureau with evidence they can use to go after the Moroltos and bring down BL&L. Mitch knows he faces a stark choice. If he works with the FBI, he believes that even if he stays alive, he will have to disclose information about the firm’s legitimate clients—thus breaking the attorney–client privilege and risking disbarment. However, the FBI warns him that if he stays with the firm, he will almost certainly go to jail when the FBI takes down both the firm and the Moroltos. Either way, his life as he knows it is over, and he agrees to cooperate with the FBI in return for $1.5 million and the release of his imprisoned brother Ray in Arkansas.Desperate to find a way out, Mitch inadvertently stumbles on a solution when one of his clients reveals that he was billed for extra five hours fees, for the Firm’s money laundering services for the Moroltos. However, mailing these illegal bills to their clients is considered as mail fraud, and it exposes the Firm to RICO charges. Mitch begins secretly copying the Firm’s billing records. However, he is unmasked when a prison guard on the Moroltos’ payroll alerts DeVasher. Evading DeVasher and his thugs, he finds the Morolto brothers and, offering himself as a loyal attorney looking out for his clients’ best interests, leads them to believe that his contact with the FBI and files copying were merely an attempt to expose and eliminate such illegal overbilling. Mitch asks the Moroltos to turn over their billing invoices in order to help the FBI make their case against the firm. He assures them that as long as he is alive, any other information he knows about their legal affairs is covered under attorney-client privilege and will never be revealed. Convinced thus, the Moroltos agree to guarantee Mitch’s safety and let him give the FBI all the evidence they need to destroy the Firm. Since the attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply when a lawyer knows about ongoing criminal activity, Mitch is able to keep his status as a lawyer. The film ends as the McDeeres leave their house in Memphis and return to Boston, driving the same car in which they arrived there.Better than the book with regard to its resolution and plot development. Still looks and feels good.