25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: FRED CLAUS

 

CAST

Vince Vaughn (Delivery Man)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Kevin Spacey (L.A. Confidential)
Kathy Bates (Bad Santa 2)
John Michael Higgins (Couples Retreat)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Stephen Baldwin (8 Seconds)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)

A baby is born, and within a few minutes of his birth, he starts saying: “Ho, ho, ho!”. Mother Claus calls her son, Frederick, over to meet his new brother, whom she has decided to name Nicholas. Mother Claus lovingly refers to the new baby as her little Saint Nick. During Christmas, when Nick opens his gifts including Fred’s, he decides to give them away to orphans which makes Fred angry. Mother Claus advises Fred to be a better person by stating he should be more like his brother; this in turn causes Fred to resent Nick. Feeling isolated, Fred often climbs a tree to confide his problems in a bird. On one occasion, Nick cuts down the tree, saying that now Fred can bring it inside since he liked it so much. However, the birdhouse Fred’s confidant lived in is smashed, causing the bird to leave; this causes a permanent rift between Fred and Nick.In the present day, it is revealed that when Nick becomes a saint due to all his good deeds, he, Fred, and Mother and Father Claus become frozen in time, never to age. Nick has become the modern-day Santa Claus, giving gifts to people and Fred works as a repossession agent in Chicago to take them away. His girlfriend, Wanda, gets mad at him for forgetting that her birthday was the next day. Wanda refers to a previous birthday where Fred promised to take her to France. When Fred gets back to his own apartment, he watches TV when a young orphan boy named Samuel “Slam” Gibbons comes in. Slam talks about wanting a puppy named Macaroni for Christmas. Fred is attacked by countless men dressed up as Santa and after he gets arrested, he calls his brother for $5,000 bail money. He also asks for an additional $50,000 for a get rich quick scheme. Nick agrees to give him the bail money, but tells him that if he wants the $50,000, he has to come to the North Pole and work for it.Soon after, an elf named Willie shows up to take Fred to the North Pole. He is the head elf and has a crush on Santa’s Little Helper, Charlene. Once Fred and Willie arrive at the North Pole, Nick welcomes Fred and shows him around the North Pole. There is a snow globe in the main area of the workshop, where you can say any person’s name and see if they are being naughty or nice. While Fred starts working, Nick introduces Clyde Northcut, an efficiency expert who has come to evaluate the North Pole. Clyde takes Nick to the workshop and on the way tells Nick that he has three strikes. If Nick gets three strikes, the workshop will be shut down for good. Meanwhile, the workshop is in a state of chaos because of Fred, and Clyde says that Nick’s inability to control his work staff is strike one. That night at dinnertime, Nick convinces Fred to come to dinner with Mother and Father Claus and Clyde. Sitting down at the dinner table, Mother Claus continues to praise Nick, while Fred storms out and heads to Frosty’s Tavern, an elf bar, where he meets Willie, who discusses his lack of self-confidence regarding Charlene. Fred teaches Willie to dance, and Willie then falls down in front of Charlene, embarrassing himself. A pep talk by Fred later lifts his spirits.Meanwhile, Clyde deliberately sabotages the mail sorting department by shredding countless children’s letters, which later gives Nick a second strike. Believing that Fred is putting Nick under stress, a family meeting is called (which Fred was tied up and taken to) with Wanda present, and Fred leaves by saying that therapy is for families who want to be together, and their family does not have that problem. When Slam is placed at the top of the most naughty list, Fred understands that Slam has just had it hard and is not naughty. He then stamps every kids’ description as nice.Furious at what Fred has done wrong, Nick ends up fighting with him, in which Nick injures his back. Angry with Nick, Fred leaves the North Pole with his $50,000, but Nick gives Fred a present to take with him. Fred waits until he returns home to open the gift, which is a birdhouse, a replacement for the one on the tree, and a note from Nick which says, “I’m sorry for cutting down your tree. Love, Nick.” Fred is confused and enters a Siblings Anonymous meeting. At the end, Bill Clinton’s younger half-brother, Roger Clinton Jr, makes a speech about his brother’s success. Back at the North Pole, it looks like Christmas is lost. Nick is in bed and cannot make his Christmas Eve journey of delivering presents.Willie reminds Fred that, according to a long-standing rule, only a member of the Claus family can deliver the presents and Fred qualifies. Fred begins delivering presents to children around the world and Willie joins him to assist with the flying of the sleigh and the navigation. Meanwhile, Clyde sabotages their efforts at midnight by shutting off the power, which was the only way for the North Pole to communicate to Fred and Willie, helping them navigate. While Fred and Willie attempt to finish delivering the gifts for the children, Nick talks to Clyde by realizing that when he was a boy, Clyde did not get what he wanted from Nick because he would act up due to bullying, which resulted in him growing up to be the man he is. Nick realizes, thanks to Fred, that his definition of naughty was flawed. Nick makes peace with him by giving Clyde the Superman cape he wanted as a kid but never got.Fred stops by the foster home to visit Slam and bring him the puppy (Macaroni) he wanted. Fred faces away from Slam to hide his identity and explains to Slam that he should become a better person. As the rest of the elves anxiously wait in the tavern, Willie marches in and, with newfound confidence, he walks up to Charlene, grabs a chair to stand on, and kisses her. After Fred announces that Christmas has been saved, everyone gathers around the giant snow globe to watch the children of the world open their presents. Nick tells Fred that he is the best big brother anybody could ever ask for, and they finally make amends.Fred returns to Wanda’s house and she is initially upset to see him and tells him to leave. He refuses and states that he is moving in with her. He gives her a present. Wanda opens it to find a teddy bear holding a French flag. That night, Fred takes Wanda to France in Santa’s sleigh, and they circle around the Eiffel Tower (“It’s a company car. It’s one of the perks.” says Fred). The two continue dating, and Charlene and Willie are now happy together. By next Christmas, Slam is adopted, but Fred never stops watching out for him – even becoming the coach of his Little League Baseball team. As for Clyde, Nick hires him as an efficiency consultant and he teaches the elves how to use a spreadsheet. Nick and Mrs. Claus, as well as Nick and Fred’s parents visit Fred’s and Wanda’s house for Christmas. It is evident that Fred and his mom have grown closer. Fred has also become a true Claus; while Nick has lost a bit of weight, Fred has gained some. The movie ends by showing the bird house hung up outside Fred’s window, and a bird, who looks like the one Fred befriended, perched on it.I do not recall the last time I have seen such entertaining Christmas movie. “Fred Claus” is funny and has many hilarious moments. The message that there is no naughty child and consequently every child deserves a Christmas gift is great. The cast leaded by Vince Vaughn is fantastic and I really loved this movie. A great film for the Christmas holidays.

REVIEW: SAN ANDREAS

CAST

Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 8)
Carla Gugino (Faster)
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold)
Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine)
Kylie Minogue (Sample People)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)

Raymond “Ray” Gaines is a Los Angeles Fire Department Air Rescue pilot in the midst of a divorce from Emma and planning a trip to San Francisco with his daughter Blake. Meanwhile, Caltech seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes and his colleague Dr. Kim Park are at Hoover Dam doing research for a new earthquake predicting model when a nearby and previously unknown fault ruptures. This triggers a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that collapses the dam and kills Park after he rescues a little girl and throws her to Hayes as he falls to the collapsing ground. When Ray is called into work because of this, Blake goes with her mother’s new boyfriend Daniel Riddick to San Francisco, instead of Ray.Hayes discovers that the entire San Andreas Fault is shifting and will soon cause a major earthquake, thereby destroying cities along the fault line. Emma is having lunch at a hotel in Downtown LA with Daniel’s sister Susan when the fault shifts triggering a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, with Susan among the casualties during the event. Rather than reporting for emergency rescue duty, Ray saves Emma from the collapsing building, and they escape the city aboard his helicopter, barely managing to swerve around the US Bank Tower as it comes crumbling down.In San Francisco, Daniel brings Blake to his office where she meets Ben, an engineer from England seeking employment and his brother, Ollie. Daniel and Blake leave the premises, but they become trapped in their car in the parking garage after a string of earthquakes, with Blake getting her legs pinned in the event. Daniel flees but Blake is found by Ben and Ollie, who help her escape. They then find a working phone in Chinatown and Blake calls Ray and Emma, who fly to San Francisco to save her.En route, Ray’s helicopter fails, forcing him to make an emergency landing at a shopping mall in Bakersfield. Amid the chaos of looting, he steals a truck and he and Emma escape. They come across an older couple broken down on the side of the road where the San Andreas Fault has opened up, blocking the road and the couple, who happen to own an airplane, agree to give it up in exchange for Ray’s vehicle. In San Francisco, Blake, Ben and Ollie are trying to find a place to signal Ray, as the point they agreed to meet at, Coit Tower, is engulfed in flames. On approach, Ray and Emma are forced to parachute in the city when a 9.6 magnitude quake hits the city, becoming the largest earthquake in history. Much of the city is left in ruins and Blake, Ben and Ollie narrowly survive. Ray and Emma, realizing they cannot make their way through the destroyed city, are able to commandeer a boat only to see that the water in the bay is beginning to recede, indicating that a megatsunami is approaching.As it approaches, Blake, Ben, and Ollie run into a building under construction which Daniel helped design. Ray and Emma, accompanied by dozens of other people in boats, manage to make it over the wave before it crests, barely avoiding a huge cargo ship getting caught up in the wave. They then watch in horror as the giant tsunami hits the Golden Gate Bridge with the enormous cargo ship, which snaps the center span cleanly in two; Daniel is among those killed when a loose shipping container crushes him. The wave then proceeds into the ruined city, swamping cruise ships, killing thousands and flooding the building Blake is in. Emma and Ray make their way through the flooded downtown area and are finally able to locate Blake, Ben, and Ollie as the building begins to sink beneath the water. Ray dives into the building to save Blake as she becomes unconscious while trapped underwater, while Emma breaks into the building with the boat and rescues everyone just as the building also collapses; however, it appears too late as Blake has seemingly drowned. Ray, however, manages to resuscitate her, and the family is happily reunited.They head to a relief camp where the reconciled Ray and Emma talk about their future; on the remains of the Golden Gate Bridge, an American flag unfolds, giving hope that the city will recover and rebuild as rescue vehicles descend on the radically altered landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area. Then the camera zooms out to see the whole Bay Area, showing that the bay now extends south from San Jose to Santa Cruz, turning the San Francisco peninsula into an island.Typical Rock actioner with great special effects and so so acting but I don’t think anyone expected an Oscar. The Rock does what he does best and it makes for an enjoyable watch.Classic popcorn movie.

REVIEW: 12 YEARS A SLAVE

 

CAST

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Michael Fassbender (Alien: Covenant)
Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther)
Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Sarah Paulson (The Runner)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
Adepero Oduye (Geostorm)
Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone)
Brad Pitt (Ocean’s Eleven)
Scoot McNairy (Argo)
Taran Killam (Epic Movie)
Chris Chalk (Gotham)
Paul Giamatti (The Hangover – Part 2)
Michael K. Williams (Gone Baby Gone)
Bryan Batt (Scream: The Series)
Quvenzhané Wallis  (Annie)
Marc Macaulay  (The Punisher)
Bill Camp (Joker)
J.D. Evermore  (Django Unchained)
Wayne Pere (Cloak & Dagger)
Storm Reid (The Invisible Man)

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Adepero Oduye in 12 Years a Slave (2013)In 1841, Solomon Northup is a free African-American man working as a violinist, living with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York. Two white men, Brown and Hamilton, offer him short-term employment as a musician if he will travel with them to Washington, D.C. However, once they arrive they drug Northup and deliver him to a slave pen run by a man named Burch. Northup proclaims that he is a free man, only to be savagely beaten with, at first, a wooden paddle, then, a leather belt. Northup is later shipped to New Orleans along with other captive African Americans. He is told by the others that if he wants to survive in the South, he must adapt to being a slave and not tell anyone he is a free man. A slave trader named Freeman gives Northup the identity of “Platt”, a runaway slave from Georgia, and sells him to plantation owner William Ford. Tension grows between Northup and a plantation overseer which ends with Northup savagely beating and whipping the overseer. To save Northup’s life, Ford sells him to another slave owner named Edwin Epps. In the process, Northup attempts to explain that he is actually a free man, but Ford tells him he is too afraid and that he cannot help him now.Paul Dano and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (2013)At the plantation, Northup meets Patsey, a favored slave who can pick over 500 pounds of cotton a day, twice the usual quota, whom Epps regularly rapes and abuses. Some time later, cotton worms destroy Epps’s cotton. Unable to work his fields, Epps leases his slaves to a neighboring plantation for the season. While there, Northup gains the favor of the plantation’s owner, Judge Turner, who allows him to play the fiddle at a neighbor’s wedding anniversary celebration and to keep his earnings. Northup is also raped by a female slave in the middle of the night. When Northup returns to Epps, he uses the money to pay a white field hand and former overseer, Armsby, to mail a letter to his friends in New York. Armsby agrees and accepts Northup’s saved money, but immediately betrays him to Epps. In the middle of the night, a drunken Epps wakes Northup and questions him menacingly about the letter. Northup is narrowly able to convince Epps that Armsby is lying and Epps relents. Solomon then emotionally burns the letter he intended to give to Armsby.Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave (2013)Northup begins working on the construction of a gazebo with a Canadian laborer named Samuel Bass. Bass is unsettled by the brutal way that Epps treats his slaves and expresses his opposition to American slavery, earning Epps’s enmity. Northup overhears the conversation and decides to reveal his kidnapping to Bass. Once again, Northup asks for help in getting a letter to Saratoga Springs. Bass agrees to send it. One day, the local sheriff arrives in a carriage with another man. The sheriff asks Northup a series of questions to confirm that his answers match the facts of his life in New York. Northup recognizes the sheriff’s companion as Mr. Parker, a shopkeeper he knew in Saratoga. Parker has come to free him, and the two embrace, though an enraged Epps furiously protests the circumstances and tries to prevent Northup from leaving. Northup gives an emotional farewell to Patsey and rides off to his freedom. Patsey faints as Northup leaves.After being enslaved for 12 years, Northup is restored to freedom and returned to his family, leaving behind the other slaves. As he walks into his home, he sees his wife with their son and daughter (fully grown) and her husband, who present him with his grandson and namesake, Solomon Northup Staunton. Northup apologizes for his long absence while his family comforts him. The film’s epilogue displays a series of graphics recounting Northup’s unsuccessful suits against Brown, Hamilton, and Burch, along with the 1853 publication of Northup’s slave narrative memoir, Twelve Years a Slave. The memoir describes his role in the abolitionist movement and the mystery surrounding details of his death and burial. Patsey and Northup never met again.To watch 12 Years a Slave is to be confronted with the grim reality of slavery in a way that’s never been done before. To say this is the best film ever made about slavery feels trivial, as slavery is a subject in film that has been shown with naive romanticism from films like Gone With the Wind or silly exploitation from something like Django Unchained. Both of which serve to make the topic digestible. To watch 12 Years a Slave is to experience a level of despair and misery that can become overwhelming. It’s a film of such ugliness, such blunt emotional trauma, that it may haunt you for hours if not days after seeing it. So why should you watch a film that could leave you reeling and devastated? Because, it’s also one of the greatest cinematic achievements of our time.

REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Emma Stone (Easy A)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Skyler Gisondo (Vacation)
Stan Lee (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)
Max Charles (American Sniper)
B.J. Novak (Saving Mr. Banks)
J.D. Walsh (Two and a Half Men)

In 2000, Oscorp scientist Richard Parker records a video message to explain his disappearance. Later, he and his wife, Mary, are aboard a private jet hijacked by a man sent to assassinate Richard. The plane crashes, killing both Richard and Mary, after he uploads the video.Fourteen years later, Richard’s son Peter continues to fight crime as Spider-Man. He pursues and apprehends Aleksei Sytsevich. Later, Peter meets with Gwen at their high school graduation ceremony and, insisting he keep his vow to her father, ends their relationship. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn, returns to Manhattan to see his terminally-ill father, Norman, CEO of OsCorp. Norman explains his illness is genetic, and Harry is at the age where it first develops. Norman gives Harry a small device he claims contains his life’s work. The next day, Norman dies and Harry is appointed the new OsCorp CEO.While working in an OsCorp laboratory, electrical engineer Max Dillon shocks himself by accident and falls into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels. They attack him, and he mutates into a living electric generator. Meanwhile, Peter attempts to maintain a friendship with Gwen, but she reveals that she may move to England for schooling. Before they can discuss it, Dillon wanders into Times Square, accidentally causing a blackout, and is stopped by Peter after a battle. Dillon is taken to Ravencroft Institute, where he is studied by German scientist Dr. Kafka. Meanwhile, the first symptoms of Harry’s illness are showing, and he uses the device Norman gave him to deduce that Spider-Man’s blood could help save him. He asks Peter, who has been selling photos of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, to aid him in finding Spider-Man. Peter refuses, unsure of what effects the transfusion would have. Although he later comes to Harry as Spider-Man, he still refuses, and Harry develops an intense hatred towards Spider-Man. The OsCorp board-members, in particular the vice-president, Donald Menken, frame Harry for covering up Dillon’s accident, remove him as CEO, overthrow him and take control of Oscorp. Harry’s assistant, Felicia Hardy, informs him of equipment that could help him, so he makes a deal with Dillon, who now calls himself “Electro,” to get him back inside the OsCorp building. There he finds a suit of armour and other equipment made by Norman, as well as venom from the now-destroyed genetically-altered spiders. The venom accelerates Harry’s illness and transforms him into a goblin-like creature, but the suit’s built-in emergency protocol restores his health and cures his disease.Peter uses information left by his father to locate the video message in an abandoned subway station’s hidden lab. Richard explains he had to leave because he refused to cooperate with Norman’s biogenetic weaponization plans. Peter then hears a voicemail from Gwen, telling him she was offered the British scholarship and is heading to the airport earlier than expected. He manages to catch her and professes his love for her, and, vowing to go wherever she goes, they agree to go to England together. Electro causes another blackout, and Peter heads off to fight him as Spider-Man. Gwen follows, and together they restore power and overload Electro’s body, killing him.The transformed Harry, who now calls himself “Green Goblin”, arrives equipped with Norman’s armor and weaponry. Upon seeing Gwen, he deduces Spider-Man’s secret identity and, swearing revenge for being refused the blood transfusion, kidnaps her and takes her to the top of a clock tower. Peter manages to defeat the Green Goblin, but his webbing breaks during the battle and Gwen falls to her death. Peter, depressed and distraught, mourns over Gwen’s death and ends his career as Spider-Man. Five months later, Harry is coping with the aftereffects of his transformation while incarcerated at Ravencroft. His associate, Gustav Fiers, visits Harry and the pair discuss forming their own team. Harry orders Fiers to start with Sytsevich. Later an unknown team of men break Sytsevich out of prison. Equipped with electromechanical suit armor, Sytsevich calls himself the Rhino and rampages through the streets. Peter, inspired by Gwen’s graduation speech, resumes his role as Spider-Man and confronts him.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 nearly earns an honest emotional response over this pairing. The writing could be better, but Garfield and Stone do an excellent job selling their roles and this movie. I am a big fan of Stone, and she elevates Garfield’s already solid performance. Webb does not quite find the balance between this drama and spectacle, and the film understandably includes a number of rollicking action sequences. The visual effects are strong, but the bullet-time slow motion feels a bit stale. There is a lot of flash to these bits, but not much substance. This is an entertaining film that could be better.

REVIEW: THE HANGOVER – PART II

 

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Ameircan Sniper_
Ed Helms (Cedar Rapids)
Zach Galifianakis (Up In The Air)
Justin Bartha (Gigli)
Jeffrey Tambor (Dr. Dolittle)
Ken Jeong (Couples Retreat)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Mason Lee (Super Express)
Bryan Callen (Ride Along)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sasha Barrese (Let Me In)
Sondra Currie (Alien Nation: Dark Horizon)
Gillian Vigman (Deck The Halls)
Yasmin Lee (Red Ice)
Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson Mysteries)
Andrew Howard (The Outpost)
Channon Roe (Boogie Nights)

Two years after the events of the first movie in Las Vegas, Stu Price, Phil Wenneck, Alan Garner and Doug Billings travel to Thailand to celebrate Stu’s upcoming wedding to Lauren. Much to Alan’s dismay, they are joined by Lauren’s younger brother, Teddy. At the rehearsal dinner, Lauren’s father’s reveals his disapproval of Stu during a toast. Later that night, Stu hesitantly joins Phil, Doug, Alan and Teddy for a beer. Sitting at a campfire and roasting marshmallows, the group toast to Stu and Lauren’s future happiness.The next morning, Phil, Stu and Alan, along with gangster Leslie Chow – whom Alan befriended after Las Vegas – and a chain-smoking capuchin monkey, awaken in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok. Stu has a face tattoo (a replica of Mike Tyson’s) and Alan’s head is completely shaved. They cannot find Teddy, and discover only his severed finger. Chow begins to relay the events of the prior night, but he seemingly dies after snorting a line of cocaine. Panicked, the trio dispose of Chow’s body in an ice box.Through a tip from Doug who is still at the resort (he left the campfire earlier than the others), they go to a police station to pick up Teddy but are given a wheelchair-bound elderly Buddhist monk, who knows more about what happened; however, he refuses to reveal anything, having taken a vow of silence. After finding a business card, they travel to the smoldering ruins of the business. They enter a nearby tattoo parlor where Stu got his tattoo, and they learn that they started a fight that escalated into a riot. The trio returns the monk to his Buddhist temple, where they are encouraged by the head monk to meditate. Alan is able to recall that they had been at the White Lion strip club, where they learn that Stu was sodomized by a kathoey prostitute named Kimmy. Upon exiting, the trio are attacked by two Russian mobsters who steal the monkey, and one shoots Phil in his arm.After Phil is treated at a clinic, Alan confesses that he had drugged some of the marshmallows from the previous night with muscle relaxers and ADHD medication in order to sedate Teddy but accidentally mixed up the bags. Phil and Stu become furious that Alan drugged them again. Stu blames Alan for ruining his life and attacks him. Phil breaks it up and tells them that they have to stick together. They notice something on Alan’s stomach: an address and a time for a meeting. They meet a gangster named Kingsley, who demands Chow’s bank account password by the next morning in exchange for Teddy. They return to the hotel to try to find Chow’s password, only to discover that he is still alive. They steal the monkey (who had the code given to him and put inside his jacket for safe-keeping by Chow) back from the Russian mobsters through a violent car chase, during which the monkey is shot and injured. After taking the code and leaving the monkey at a veterinary clinic, the group completes the deal with Kingsley. Suddenly, Interpol agents appear and arrest Chow. Kingsley turns out to be an undercover agent, who tells the trio that the police had used the information that Teddy had disappeared to arrest Chow and Kingsley actually does not know where Teddy is.Desperate and out of clues, Phil calls Doug’s wife Tracy to tell her they can’t find Teddy. Stu decides to call off the wedding and live in Bangkok and say that Teddy died. While Alan is playing a game of PAC-MAN the power goes out again. Stu suddenly realizes where Teddy is. The trio rushes back to the hotel to find Teddy who is in the elevator unharmed (albeit still missing a finger). Teddy had woken up in the middle of the night to get more ice for his severed finger (after the first bucket of ice had melted) but became trapped after the power went out. The four use Chow’s speedboat, the Perfect Life, the keys for which were in Teddy’s pocket, to travel back to the wedding reception.Arriving on land just as Lauren’s father is about to cancel the wedding, Stu makes a defiant speech where he rejects being boring and instead states that he is in fact quite wild. Impressed, Lauren’s father gives the couple his blessing. After they exchange their vows, Alan presents Stu with a special gift at the post-reception dance: a musical guest performance by Mike Tyson. Teddy later discovers that he had taken many pictures during the night on his cell phone. The group, along with Tyson, agree to look at the pictures together once (some of which reveal Teddy lost his finger playing the knife game) before erasing the evidence of their exploits once again.Since The Hangover Part II is basically a repeat of the first film, it ups the R-rated humor to get a leg up. The jokes are dirtier, and the nudity is less shocking than tedious. The Hangover Part II  is funny. At least some of it is, thanks to Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis, who have a damn good thing going.

REVIEW: SIDEWAYS

CAST

Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Thomas Haden Church (Easy A)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander 2)
Sandra Oh (Tammy)
Marylouise Burke (Wild Canaries)
Jessica Hecht (The Forgotten)
Stephanie Faracy(Flightplan)
Missy Doty (Nebraska)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Alysia Reiner (Better Things)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)

Miles Raymond is an aspiring – but unsuccessful – writer, a wine aficionado and a divorced, depressed, borderline alcoholic middle-aged English teacher living in San Diego, who takes his soon-to-be-married actor friend and former college roommate, Jack Cole, on a road trip through Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Though still recognized on occasion, Jack’s acting career appears to have peaked years ago, when he had a role in a popular TV soap but now does commercial voice-overs and plans to enter his future father-in-law’s successful real estate business after he’s married. Miles wants to spend the week relaxing, golfing, enjoying good food and wine; however, much to Miles’ consternation, Jack is on the prowl and wants one last sexual fling before settling into domestic life.In the wine country, the pair visit Miles’ favorite restaurant, The Hitching Post II, and meet Maya, an attractive, intelligent waitress with whom Miles is casually acquainted. Jack senses that Maya is interested in Miles, who downplays his friend’s intuition, and tells Jack that Maya is married. Jack tells Maya that Miles’ manuscript has been accepted for publication, even though it is only being considered. Later, at a tasting in a local winery, they meet an attractive wine pourer named Stephanie, who is also acquainted with Maya. Jack is immediately attracted to Stephanie and arranges a double date, to include Miles and Maya, and tells Miles that he learned Maya is no longer married (“sans rock”, as he describes it). During the date, Miles gets drunk and telephones Vicki, his ex-wife, after learning from Jack earlier that day that she has remarried. They return to Stephanie’s home, where Jack and Stephanie immediately adjourn to her bedroom for sex, while Miles and Maya connect through their mutual interest in wine. Miles tells Maya about his book, and Maya says she is finishing a master’s degree in horticulture so she can leave serving. Miles makes a gauche pass at Maya, which she rejects. They leave separately, but not before he gives her a copy of his manuscript. As the week progresses, Jack’s affair with Stephanie continues, to the point where he believes he’s falling in love with her; he bonds with her daughter and makes the suggestion to Miles that they move there for him to be closer to Stephanie. After spending the day together, Miles and Maya return to her apartment and have sex. The next day, Miles lets it slip that Jack is to be married. Disgusted with the dishonesty, Maya dumps Miles and later tells Stephanie who, furious and devastated to learn she’s been used, hits Jack repeatedly and breaks his nose using her motorcycle helmet.On finding out his manuscript has been rejected again, Miles drinks heavily and causes a scene during a wine tasting when the server cuts him off, and ends up trying to drink from the spit bucket. That night, with Stephanie gone, Jack hooks up with another waitress named Cammi, who recognized him from his acting career. Hours later, Jack shows up back at the motel room he shares with Miles – naked and confessing that Cammi’s husband came home early while she and Jack were having sex. Jack explains he was forced to flee without his clothes and wallet (which contains a pair of irreplaceable wedding rings). Jack convinces Miles to drive him back to Cammi’s house and sneak inside, where he discovers Cammi and her husband having sex. Miles spies Jack’s wallet, grabs it and runs from the house, barely escaping Cammi’s irate husband, who pursues him in the nude. To explain the broken nose and cover up the infidelity to his fiancée, Jack runs Miles’ convertible into a tree, giving the appearance they had been in an accident. The pair return to the home of Jack’s fiancée, where he is welcomed with open arms, and Miles drives away in his battered car.Following the wedding ceremony, Miles runs into his ex-wife Vicki and meets her new husband. After learning that she is also pregnant, Miles accepts that he will never get Vicki back. Alone, he drinks his prized wine, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, from a disposable coffee cup at a fast-food restaurant and falls into an even deeper depression. After some time passes, Miles returns to the routine of teaching school; coming home one afternoon, he receives a voice-mail from Maya, who says she enjoyed his manuscript and invites him to visit. Ultimately, Miles is seen driving back to Santa Ynez and knocking on Maya’s door.

While it is so easy to resort to the wine as metaphor – as the film amply does with smart, sharp and pungent dialogue – the film is a full-bodied, never precocious vintage that needs to be savored in a desirable bouquet of cinematic finesse

REVIEW: ROMEO & JULIET (2013)

CAST

Douglas Booth (Noah)
Hailee Steinfeld (Ender’s Game)
Damian Lewis (Your Higness)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Ed Westwick (S. Darko)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Lesley Manville (Maleficent)
Christian Cooke (Cemetery Junction)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Natascha McElhone (Solaris)
Tom Wisdom (300)
Tomas Arana (Gladiator)

During the late Middle Ages in Verona, two wealthy families, the Montagues and Capulets, have been feuding for centuries. One day at the market place, the feuding families start a brawl which infuriates the Prince and he threatens that if the peace of Verona is disturbed again, he shall take their lives. Meanwhile, Romeo, a young Montague, reveals that he is in love with Lord Capulet’s niece, Rosaline. Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio persuades him to forget Rosaline but Romeo rebuffs him.
Later that night, there is a party held by Lord Capulet. Romeo sneaks in with Benvolio and Mercutio hoping to meet Rosaline. Instead, Romeo sees Juliet who is Lord Capulet’s daughter and falls in love with her. Juliet feels the same and they share a dance. They go together to a quiet place and share a passionate kiss. Juliet’s Nurse interrupts and when Romeo talks to the nurse, he discovers that Juliet is a Capulet.
After the party ends, Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s garden secretly where he witnesses Juliet expressing her love for Romeo. They have a romantic time and decide to get married the next day. Romeo seeks help from Friar Laurence to wed them and the Friar agrees thinking that their love may end the violent war between Capulets and Montagues. They perform the ceremony and afterwards Juliet returns home. Romeo catches up with Mercutio and Benvolio but they meet Tybalt and his men on the way. This starts another violent brawl during which Tybalt stabs Mercutio. Romeo is enraged and runs after Tybalt seeking revenge. They fight and Romeo slays Tybalt. As the result of this loss, the Prince banishes Romeo from Verona.
Meanwhile both families are filled with grief over their losses, especially Juliet. The Friar sends Romeo to Juliet so he can spend one last night with her. Romeo goes to Juliet and they consummate their marriage. Romeo leaves in haste the next morning. But Juliet is shocked when her father brings news of planning to wed Juliet with Count Paris. Juliet is resistant but her father threatens to disown her if she does not wed Paris. Juliet goes to Friar Laurence for help, threatening to take her life if the Friar does not have a solution. The Friar in return, gives her a potion that will put her in a deathlike sleep temporarily while he will inform Romeo about this and they shall run away together. Juliet is overjoyed and drinks the potion that night. Her parents are devastated and instead of her marriage, her funeral is planned. During the funeral, Benvolio sees Juliet and thinks she is dead and immediately runs off to tell Romeo.

Friar’s letter however, does not reach Romeo and Benvolio tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Romeo is shocked and devastated and plans to take his life. He buys poison and goes to Juliet. He kisses Juliet one last time, then he drinks the potion unaware that Juliet has awakened. Juliet is overjoyed to see him and they kiss but Romeo suddenly collapses and she finds out that he took poison and Romeo dies in her arms. The Friar arrives but he is too late. He hears some guards coming and goes to hold them off. While Juliet is filled with grief, she finds and stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger. The Friar arrives and finds them both dead. Their funeral is held together and the feud between Capulets and Montagues finally reconcile, ending their feud.No film production of this play will please everyone, alas I enjoyed it. It was those little details that were added that made me enjoy this adaptation. A decent enough adaptation of a classic story.