REVIEW: LAST VEGAS

Starring

Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Kevin Kline (Dave)
Mary Steenburgen (Elf)
Jerry Ferrara (Sunny)
Romany Malco (Kindergarten Cop 2)
Roger Bart (Trumbo)
Joanna Gleason (Crimes and Misdemeanors)
Michael Ealy (Takers)
Bre Blair (Quarantine 2: Terminal)
50 Cent (Spy)
Elisa Gabrielli (The Brady Bunch Movie)

Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas (2013)Billy, Paddy, Archie, and Sam are childhood friends from Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who are now living in their senior years. Sam and his wife Miriam are living mundane lives in Naples, Florida. Archie, twice-divorced and recovering from a minor stroke, lives with his overprotective son Ezra and his family in Englewood, New Jersey. Paddy lives alone in his Brooklyn apartment, a curmudgeon in grief since the death of his wife, Sophie, over a year ago. Billy is a successful entrepreneur in Malibu, California, who lives with his 31-year-old girlfriend Lisa. Shortly after proposing to Lisa, Billy finds an old bottle of scotch he and his friends stole in their childhood days and calls Sam and Archie, who immediately propose a bachelor party for Billy in Las Vegas before his wedding that weekend. After being given permission by Miriam to cheat on her, Sam collects Archie and Paddy and fly off to rendezvous with Billy in Vegas.Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas (2013)Arriving in Vegas, Billy and Paddy get into a heated argument about Billy’s failure to attend Sophie’s funeral. They head to Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel to check in, only to realize that the hotel is closed for renovations. They agree to try the Aria Resort and Casino, where the wedding will be held. Before leaving Binion’s they are attracted to the lounge by the singing voice of Diana, who is immediately charmed by their appreciation of her singing. The five share a drink, and they convince Diana to join them at The Aria.Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas (2013)While waiting to get rooms, Archie goes to a blackjack table and has a brief altercation with a cocky gambler named Dean. Archie buys chips with $15,000 (half of his pension funds), planning to enjoy his escape from medical worries. When Paddy and Sam return, they find that Archie is up to $102,000, and they quickly leave the table in fear of being accused of card counting. Meanwhile, as Billy tours the wedding chapel with Diana, he becomes charmed with her as she explains to him that she moved to Vegas because she was recently laid off as a tax attorney in Atlanta and always wanted to sing despite being a divorced empty nester.Last Vegas (2013)The quartet later become judges of a wild swimsuit competition. They are then confronted by the casino manager, who offers the group his largest penthouse suite for free, in hopes that Archie will stay and spend his winnings at the hotel. They are assigned Lonnie (who is disappointed because the original person staying in the room was going to be 50 Cent) is their host/butler. Billy suggests they open the old bottle of scotch to celebrate the gang’s reunion, but Paddy confronts him about his absence from Sophie’s funeral and leaves the suite. That night, the remaining three go to the Aria’s popular nightclub, where they accept the bouncer’s suggestion that they earn immediate entrance by purchasing $1,800 bottle service, using some of Archie’s winnings. There, Billy and Sam talk with the bachelorette and her maid-of-honor from a bachelorette party while Archie goes dancing. Dean comes by and begins groping the bachelorette and is confronted by Archie, Billy and Sam. Dean attempts to throw a punch at Billy but is knocked down by Paddy, who stopped by to give Archie his cell phone due to several missed calls from his son Ezra.Last Vegas (2013)The next day, while the others are hungover and recovering, Paddy visits Diana and tells her that he and Billy were both in love with Sophie when they were younger and she picked Paddy. Diana catches his eye while she tries to convince him to stop grieving and move on with life because Sophie would want it. Afterwards, Paddy joins Billy at their pool cabana and admits he needs to move on from Sophie’s passing while also showing concern for Billy about marrying a younger woman. Sam and Archie join in and decide to throw a big bachelor party for Billy in their suite that night. Lonnie brings Dean to the cabana to apologize for his behavior, having convinced him that the quartet are mafia members from the East Coast called “The Flatbush Four.” Dean, fearing for his life, agrees to become their errand boy for the day. With Lonnie and Dean’s help, they prepare for the party and invite several people including the bachelorette group from the nightclub, exotic dancers, a band of transvestite entertainers, and cast members of Zarkana.Last Vegas (2013)While the others prepare his party, Billy visits Diana. She admits that she is fond of him, and asks if he truly loves Lisa. As they walk along The Strip, Billy tells Diana that Paddy gave Sophie an ultimatum to choose either Billy or him and she secretly chose Billy first, but Billy told Sophie that she was meant to be with Paddy. The bachelor party goes into full force as Paddy gets ready to be social again, finally removing his wedding ring. Sam meets the maid of honor from the night before, who begins flirting with him to his delight. Archie dances with the bachelorette, strippers, transvestites, then gives advice to Dean on how he, too, can meet women properly. Archie is surprised by a worried Ezra, who tracked Archie’s cell phone. Archie convinces him to calm down and enjoy this chance for some special father-son time. Sam and the maid of honor head upstairs to be alone, where he encourages and enjoys her seductive ways but eventually turns down sex, realizing that he tells Miriam about all the wonderful things that happen in his life, and telling her about this soon-to-be wonderful moment would devastate her.Last Vegas (2013)Paddy tells Billy he invited Diana to the party because he likes her and wants to start anew after Sophie’s passing, but realizes Billy likes her too. When Diana arrives, Billy pushes Paddy into the decorative pool in the suite and takes Diana upstairs to tell her that Paddy likes her and to give him a chance. She states that she feels like she is being treated like Sophie and “gifted” by Billy to Paddy, which Paddy overhears. Paddy is devastated to learn about Sophie’s choice and throws the old bottle of scotch in the trash as he leaves the party.Last Vegas (2013)The next morning, Paddy confronts Billy at the pool and tells him he does not love Lisa like Paddy loved Sophie and that the wedding must be stopped. As Lisa and her bridesmaids arrive, Paddy pushes Billy into the pool and tells Lisa that Billy is calling off the wedding. Billy and Lisa talk it out and Lisa leaves with her bridesmaids. As the guys pack up to leave, Billy comes to terms with his age and admits his fear of getting old and being alone. They come together as friends again and tell Billy to go see Diana. Billy shows up at the lounge where Diana is singing and reveals his feelings for her. The guys say their goodbyes to Dean and Lonnie and finally decide to crack open the old bottle of scotch for a final toast, however to their surprise, all but Paddy find the taste to be repulsive. A couple months later, Billy and Diana call Archie and Paddy to announce they are getting married. They try to call Sam but he is unable to answer the phone as he is busy in bed with Miriam.Last Vegas (2013)In all, this is not a movie that’s going to win any awards. The game cast does try hard and succeeds at the comic moments more than anything else. So, sure, it’s a geriatric version of Tom Hanks’ old Bachelor Party, but it does have some sweet elements to it as well as a few endearing performances. Lost Vegas is perhaps a movie best appreciated on a smaller screen

REVIEW: THE LEGO MOVIE

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games)
Will Arnett (Blades of Glory)
Nick Offerman (Sin City)
Alison Brie (The Five Year Engagement)
Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)

In a Lego world populated by anthropomorphic minifigures, the evil Lord Business finds a super weapon called the “Kragle”. The wizard Vitruvius attempts to stop him, but is blinded by Business’ robots; he prophesies that a person called “the Special” will find the Piece of Resistance, a brick capable of stopping the Kragle.8½ years later, construction worker Emmet Brickowski finds a woman named Wyldstyle searching for something at his construction site after hours. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back, in the custody of Bad Cop, Lord Business’s lieutenant. Wyldstyle rescues Emmett, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius in the Old West. Emmet learns that Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are “Master Builders”[7]—people capable of building anything from their imagination without the need of instructions—who oppose Business. Wyldstyle explains Business wants to use the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with a weathered label, to freeze the world into perfection. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a seemingly human deity referred to as “the Man Upstairs”.Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with the aid of Batman, Wyldstyle’s boyfriend. They go to the hidden Cloud Cuckooland where they attend a council of Master Builders, who are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack, having placed a tracking device on Emmett, and capture everyone except Emmet and a small team of Master Builders. Escaping, Emmet devises a plan to infiltrate Business’s office tower and disarm the Kragle, but the group is captured and imprisoned in the Think Tank, where all the Master Builders are forced to make instructions. Trying to retaliate, Vitruvius is decapitated by Business, who sets a self-destruct protocol and leaves everyone to die, including Bad Cop. As he dies, Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy. He soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him that his belief makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet jumps into the abyss outside the tower and severs the connection, saving his friends. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight against Lord Business’s forces.Emmet finds himself in the human world as a Lego minifigure unable to move. The events of the story are being played out by a little boy named Finn on his father’s expansive Lego set in their basement. His father—”the Man Upstairs”—comes home from work and chastises his son for ruining the set by creating variations of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently rebuild and glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention.Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him and his perfectionism. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn reconciles with his father, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. Emmet is hailed as a hero, and begins a relationship with Wyldstyle with Batman’s blessing.As a result of Finn’s father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplon beam down and announce their plans to destroy them.The Lego Movie accurately and effectively recreates that creative space through accessible movie magic. It exhibits a fun hero story that may not be treading new narrative ground but nonetheless feels fresh and new. Finally the themes and occasionally biting humour makes The Lego Movie a kid’s film that isn’t just for kids but the child in all of us.

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: WANTED

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Angelina Joelie (Maleficent)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Common (Termiantor Salvation)
Konstantin Khabensky (Night Watch)
Marc Warren (The Vice)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Kristen Hager (Aliens vs Predator: Requiem)

In Chicago, 24-year-old Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) works at a dead-end desk job with an overbearing boss, takes anti-anxiety medication for panic attacks, and has an unfaithful live-in girlfriend who cheats on him with his friend and colleague, Barry (Chris Pratt). One night at the pharmacy, Wesley is told by a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie) that his recently murdered father was an assassin, and the killer, a man named Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), is now hunting him. Cross and Fox engage in a shoot-out with hi-tech guns. Wesley panics and runs into the parking lot followed by Cross who steals a truck and attempts to run Wesley down. Fox flips Wesley into her car and then calmly executes a spectacular escape.

Wesley awakens in a mysterious factory surrounded by Fox and other fellow assassins. The group’s leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), forces Wesley at gunpoint to shoot the wings off of several flies buzzing around a trash can, which he does, much to Wesley’s shock. Sloan explains that Wesley’s panic attacks are actually the untrained expression of a rare ability that allows Wesley’s body to distribute massive amounts of adrenaline, granting superhuman strength, speed, and heightened perception. He reveals that Wesley’s father, as well as Cross, were members of the Fraternity, a secret society of assassins that maintains balance in the world. Sloan wants to teach him to become an assassin so that he may help them kill Cross.

Wesley awakens the next morning in his apartment, quickly stashing the gun Sloan gave him (which belonged to his father) in his toilet. He then discovers that his bank account now contains several million dollars. Filled with new confidence, Wesley snaps in a public outburst against his boss before picking up his keyboard and hitting Barry in the face with it as he leaves. Fox arrives while Wesley is outside looking at newspaper headlines that he is wanted by police over the previous night’s shooting.

Wesley begins training as an assassin under Fox’s tutelage, studying under different specialized assassins (the Butcher teaches knife fighting, the Gunsmith teaches marksmanship, and the Repairman teaches endurance and hand-to-hand combat). Frustrated by his lack of progress and the brutality of the training, Wesley insists to Sloan he is ready, but is denied going after Cross. Fox, overhearing Wesley complaining, beats him until he admits he does not know who he is. Sloan tells Wesley about his father, and how he was betrayed by Cross. Reinvigorated with new purpose, Wesley begins to take his training to heart and starts to excel. Sloan then shows him the Loom of Fate, which gives the names of future targets through errors in the fabric. Those whom the Loom identifies will apparently create evil and chaos in the future, but only Sloan can see and interpret the messages. After his first assassination, Wesley tells Fox that he is questioning whether the Fraternity is right. Fox tells him about how her father was burned alive by a hired killer who had been targeted by the Loom weeks beforehand, but a Fraternity member had failed to pull the trigger.

After several missions, Wesley returns to his old apartment to retrieve his father’s gun. He soon has a shootout with Cross, wherein Wesley accidentally kills the Exterminator, a Fraternity member he had befriended. Cross shoots Wesley in the shoulder. Sloan grants Wesley’s wish to avenge his father and sends him after Cross—but then secretly gives Fox a mission to kill Wesley, saying that his name had come up in the Loom, as well. Analyzing the bullet that hit Wesley, it is discovered that it was manufactured by a man named Pekwarsky. Wesley and Fox capture Pekwarsky, who arranges a meeting with Cross. Wesley faces Cross alone on a moving train. Fox steals a car and crashes it into the train, causing a derailment. After Cross saves Wesley from falling into a ravine, Wesley fatally shoots him. Before dying, Cross reveals that he is Wesley’s real father. Fox confirms this, and explains that Wesley was recruited because he was the only person Cross would not kill. Fox points her gun at Wesley, but he shoots the glass under him and falls into the river.

Wesley is retrieved by Pekwarsky, who takes him to Wesley’s late father’s apartment (which is located just opposite to his own) and explains that Sloan started manufacturing targets for profit after discovering that he was targeted by the Loom of Fate, and he did not tell the Fraternity members that they were now nothing more than paid killers. Cross discovered the truth, went rogue, and started killing Fraternity members to keep them away from his son. Pekwarsky departs, stating that Wesley’s father wished him a life free of violence. Wesley, however, decides to kill Sloan after discovering a secret room containing all of his father’s weapons and schematics to attack the Fraternity.

Wesley launches a single all out assault on the Fraternity using explosive rats (a tactic he learned from the Exterminator), killing a majority of them in an explosive gun battle. Upon entering Sloan’s office, he is surrounded and reveals Sloan’s deception. Sloan reveals that all of the assassins’ names had come up in the weaving, and that he had acted to protect them. He gives the members a choice: kill themselves, per the code, or kill Wesley and maintain their power over the world. As the Gunsmith and others prepare to kill Wesley, Fox curves a bullet around the room, choosing to follow the code and kill everyone. She throws her gun to Wesley before being killed by her own bullet. Wesley pursues Sloan to the now destroyed Loom chamber, but Sloan manages to escape.

Afterwards, Wesley checks his bank account and sees that Sloan has seized his funds, leaving Wesley broke again. A man is seen at Wesley’s desk much later. Sloan appears and points a gun at the back of the man’s head. The man turns around and is revealed to be a decoy. Sloan sees an “X” on the floor, and, shocked, says, “Oh, fuck.”, and is killed by Wesley using a long-distance bullet. Wesley states this is him taking back control from his life before turning to the audience and asking “What the fuck have you done lately?”Overall this was a very good film, with enough thrills and spills to keep you entertained and a plot that keeps you interested throughout. It is one you could easily watch more than once and if you have yet to see this I recommend you check it out at some point in the near future.

REVIEW: THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES

CAST
Tom Hanks (The Road To Perdition)
Bruce Willis (Armageddon)
Melanie Griffith (Tempo)
Kim Cattrall (Star Trek 6)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Rita Wilson (Jingle All The Way)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash)
Donald Moffat (The Thing)
Marjorie Monaghan (Babylon 5)
Sam Sorbo (Hercules:TLJ)
Camryn Manheim (Scary Movie 3)
Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU)
F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)
Terry Farrell (Star Trek: DS9)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Total Recall)
Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is a Wall Street investor who makes millions while enjoying the good life and the sexual favors of Maria Ruskin (Melanie Griffith), a Southern belle gold digger. Sherman and Maria are driving back to Maria’s apartment from JFK Airport when they take a wrong turn on the expressway and the two find themselves in the “war-zone” of the South Bronx. They are approached by two suspicious black youths after Sherman gets out of the car to move a tire placed purposely in the middle of the road. Sherman jumps back into the car and Maria guns the engine in reverse, running over one of the teenagers and putting him in a coma. The two drive away and decide not to report the accident to the police.
Meanwhile, indigent alcoholic journalist Peter Fallow (Bruce Willis), anxious for a story to make good with his editor, comes upon the hit-and-run case as a rallying point for the black community calling upon Jewish district attorney Abe Weiss (F. Murray Abraham), who is the Bronx District Attorney seeking re-election. According to Judge Leonard White (Morgan Freeman), almost all of DA Weiss’ prosecutions end up with black and Puerto Rican defendants going to prison and Weiss is seeking a white defendant for purposes of convincing the minority-majority community that he is worth re-electing.
Weiss recognizes the press coverage inherent in prosecuting the callow Sherman, who has been discovered as the hit-and-run driver, in order to cultivate the image as an avenger for the minorities and be propelled to the mayorship of New York City. As Sherman is brought to his knees, New York City fragments into different factions who use the case to suit their own cynical purposes.
Finally, Sherman is left without any allies to support him except for the sympathetic Judge Leonard White and the remorseful Fallow. Fallow gains a tremendous advantage and insight into the case when he is dating a woman who is the sub-letting landlady of Maria’s apartment, and knows of secret recordings of conversations in the apartment made by the authorities to prove that the woman is not in fact living in the rent-controlled apartment herself. She discovers information about the McCoy case (where Maria states she was driving the car), which she gives to Fallow, who in turn covertly supplies it to Sherman McCoy’s defense lawyer. Sherman gets his hands on a tape and plays the recording in court, where it reveals Maria directly contradicting the evidence she has just given, showing she has been perjuring herself and causing her to faint. Sherman plays the tape in a tape recorder inside his briefcase connected to a small loudspeaker that he holds on the desk.
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When the judge orders that he approach the bench with this evidence, he asserts that the tape is all his (making it admissible evidence and it is technically truthful since it refers only to the dummy tape he was holding and ignores the real tape that is hidden which is not his), resulting in his acquittal. The people in the court go into an uproar, to which Judge White launches into a tirade that they have no right to act self-righteous and smarmy, or that they are above Sherman, considering Reverend Bacon (John Hancock) claims to help disadvantaged New Yorkers but actually engages in race baiting, or that the District Attorney Weiss pushed this case not in the interest of justice but in the interest of appealing to minority voters to further his political career by appealing to their desire to “get even”. After the Judge made his point, he begs the people to be decent and change their ways, letting Sherman go.
The film ends as it begins, where there is a large audience applauding Peter Fallow’s premiere of his book. Fallow says that Sherman McCoy has moved away from New York City to an unknown destination, presumably to live in obscurity.
I still can’t understand, after all these years, why this film was and still is so underrated. To me is one of De Palma’s masterpieces, where you can enjoy all his talents but still you breathe all the focused and cruel genius of Tom Wolfe and his best book. Not to mention that the adaptation of the book is brilliant and manges to keep the core and the best of it in a just 2 hours movie, even adding some moments that were not present in the books but sound absolutely brilliant, coherent and useful to carry on the story. Actors are funny and acting direction absolutely perfect, both in comical timing, and in the way actors approach their characters.

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: CONAN THE BARBARIAN (2011)

CAST

Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Rachel Nichols (Alias)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Nonso Anozie (Cinderella)
Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)

Conan is the son of Corin, chief of a barbarian tribe. The youth is a skilled but violent warrior, who his father believes is not ready to wield his own sword. One day, their village is attacked by the forces of Khalar Zym, a warlord who wishes to reunite the pieces of the Mask of Acheron in order to revive his dead wife and conquer Hyboria. Thousands of years ago, the Mask, crafted by a group of sorcerers and used to subjugate the world, was broken into many pieces, which were scattered among the barbarian tribes. After locating Corin’s piece of the mask, and murdering the entire village, Zym leaves. Conan is the only survivor, and swears revenge.Jason Momoa in Conan the Barbarian (2011)Years later, Conan has become a pirate, but still seeks revenge. He encounters a slave colony and frees it, killing all of the slave handlers in the process. In the city of Messantia, he encounters Ela-Shan, a thief being chased by a man whom Conan recognizes as Lucius, one of Zym’s soldiers from years before. He allows himself to be captured alongside Ela-Shan. Conan escapes imprisonment, kills several of the guards, and confronts Lucius, forcing him to reveal that Zym seeks a girl, the pure-blood descendant of the sorcerers of Acheron; sacrificing the descendant and using blood from the body of the girl will unleash the mask’s power. Conan helps the rest of the prisoners to escape, and, in gratitude, Ela-Shan tells Conan that, if he ever needs him, Conan will find him at the City of Thieves, Argalon. Lucius is then killed by the prisoners.

Zym and his daughter, the sorceress Marique attack a monastery where they hope to find the pure-blood descendant. Sensing something is wrong, Fassir, an elderly monk, tells one of his students, Tamara, to run away and return to her birthplace. When Fassir refuses to reveal his knowledge of the descendant, Zym kills him. Marique also slays several of the priestesses. Tamara’s carriage is chased by Zym’s men, but Conan rescues her, kills three of her pursuers, and also captures one of Zym’s men, Remo. After forcing him to reveal Tamara’s importance as the pure-blood, Conan catapults Remo into Zym’s nearby camp, killing him.

Zym and Marique confront Conan, who pretends to be interested in exchanging Tamara for gold. Conan attacks Zym, but Marique assists her father by invoking soldiers made of sand, and then poisons Conan with a poison-laced boomerang sword. Tamara rescues him and they return to Conan’s ship, stationed nearby, where his friend Artus helps Conan recover. The boat is attacked by Zym’s men, but although they kill several of Conan’s men, they are defeated. Conan orders Artus to return to Messantia with Tamara and departs to confront Zym in his kingdom. Artus tells Tamara that Conan left a map behind and she follows him, meeting with him in a cave, where they strip naked and copulate. The next day, as she is returning to the boat, Zym’s men and daughter capture her.

Conan learns of Tamara’s capture and departs to Argalon, where he asks Ela-Shan to help him break into Zym’s castle unnoticed. Zym prepares to drain Tamara’s blood, mending the mask. He then plans to use the girl’s body as a vessel for his wife. After confronting an octopus-like monster, the Dweller, that guards the dungeons and killing its four handlers, along with Ukafa, Conan infiltrates Zym’s followers, kills a guard and steals his robe, and watches as Zym puts on the empowered mask. Conan releases Tamara, and she escapes as he battles Zym with the castle falling around them. Marique attacks Tamara, but Conan hears Tamara’s scream and defeats Marique, cutting off her hand. Tamara kicks her into a pit, where her body pierced by a large spike. Zym comes and, finding his daughter’s body impaled by the spike, he swears revenge upon Conan.

Conan and Tamara become trapped on an unstable bridge as Zym attacks them. He uses the mask’s power to call forth the spirit of his deceased wife, Maliva, a powerful sorceress who was executed by the monks from Tamara’s monastery for attempting to unleash occult forces to destroy Hyborea, and Maliva’s spirit begins to possess Tamara’s body. She begs Conan to let her fall, but he refuses, and instead stabs the bridge before jumping to safety with Tamara. The bridge collapses, taking Zym along. The power-hungry ruler falls to the lava below the immense precipice screaming the name of his wife, implying his demise.

Conan and Tamara escape and he returns her to her birthplace, telling her that they’ll meet again. He then returns to Corin’s village and tells the memory of his father that he has avenged his death and recovered the sword Marique stole from him, restoring his honor.Jason Momoa in Conan the Barbarian (2011)This remake has plenty of action, thankfully so as it takes some of the attention away from the few dubious acting talents & casting decisions on show. As the lead, Jason Momoa is not built quite like Arnie & doesn’t have a whole load of facial expressions, but he is a slightly better actor. Seasoned thespian, Stephen Lang, makes this a bit more worthwhile during the almost 2 hour run time, playing the baddie role very well. Also, Morgan Freeman’s (The Shawshank Redemption) deep rich voice adds some strength to the narration of the opening dialogues.