25 DAYS CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Jacki Weaver (The Voices)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Anupam Kher (Bend It Like Beckham)
Jon Ortiz (Fast & Furious)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Julia Stiles (O)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)

After eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder, Pat Solitano is released from a mental health facility in Baltimore, and returns to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania into the care of his father Patrizio and mother Dolores. Pat soon learns that his estranged wife, Nikki, has moved away, and that his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money with the hopes of opening a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after a violent episode sent him away.
While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Cliff Patel (Kher), Pat explains why he was hospitalized: Coming home early from his high school teaching job after getting into an argument with the school’s principal, he had found his wife in the shower with the history teacher from his school while his wedding song is playing, and nearly beat the man to death. Pat recognizes that hearing the song, My Cherie Amour, can trigger a violent episode, and that sometimes when he is distressed, he hears the song though it is not playing. Despite this, Pat doesn’t believe that he needs medication to manage his condition. He tells Cliff that he has a new outlook on life. This is a reference to the name of the film, as he attempts to see the good, or “silver linings”, in all that he experiences. As part of this outlook, and his transformation to become a more worthy husband, he has lost weight and is attempting to read the books that his wife Nikki teaches to children at her school.
At dinner with his friend Ronnie and his wife Veronica, Pat meets Veronica’s sister Tiffany, a young widow who lost her job and is suffering from depression. Her dark past and blunt way of speaking make others uncomfortable, but she and Pat develop an odd friendship through their shared neuroses. They get together to eat at a diner and after an argument in the street which Tiffany escalates claiming Pat’s assaulting her, she then comes to his defense when the police show up and he becomes distressed, hearing his wedding song. Tiffany eventually offers to deliver a letter to Nikki if, in return, he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki that he has changed and become a better person.
Things go well for Pat until his father asks him to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game as a “good-luck charm”, partly because he has bet virtually all of his money on the outcome. Pat asks Tiffany for time off from practice to attend the game, which she begrudgingly allows. Tiffany also gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance for a reconciliation between them. While at the game with his friends, Pat does well and is having fun at a tailgate, until some racist fans harass the Indian fans there, including Dr. Patel. Pat gets involved in a fight after seeing his brother get punched, and he is hauled away by the police. The Eagles lose the game and Patrizio is furious. Tiffany shows up at their house and berates Patrizio, pointing out that the way she is “reading the signs,” Philadelphia teams do better when she and Pat are together, as they won every game they played when Tiffany and Pat were spending time together. Patrizio, now convinced that his son being with Tiffany is actually good luck, makes a parlay with his gambling friend that if the Eagles win their game against the Dallas Cowboys, and if Tiffany and Pat average a score of 5 out of 10 in their dance competition, he will win back double the money he lost on the first bet. Pat is reluctant to participate in the dance contest under those conditions, goes outside to consult Nikki’s letter, and notices that it also refers to “reading the signs,” realizing that Tiffany wrote the letter. With the Solatanos’ finances in danger, Tiffany and Pat’s mother persuade Pat to dance in the competition by telling him that Nikki will be there.
Tiffany, Pat, and their friends and family arrive at the competition on the night of the football game. Tiffany despairs when she finds that Nikki actually is in the audience, so Tiffany goes to the hotel bar and starts drinking with a stranger. Moments before their dance, Pat finds her and practically drags her onto the dance floor. They begin their routine as the Eagles defeat the Cowboys.
At the conclusion of their set, cute but obviously unprofessional, Tiffany and Pat score exactly 5 points. Amid cheers from friends and family and confused looks from the crowd, Pat approaches Nikki and speaks quietly into her ear. Tiffany sees this and runs from the hotel. Pat leaves Nikki behind after a short conversation, intent on finding Tiffany. Pat’s father informs him that Tiffany left and tells him that he loves her right now and that it will be a sin if he does not reach out to this moment that life has given him. Pat tells his father that he loves him, and runs after Tiffany. He hands Tiffany a letter that he wrote to her, in which he admits that he knows she forged Nikki’s letter. He confesses his love for her and that he loved her from the moment he met her, and apologizes that it took him so long to come to terms with this. They share a kiss, become a couple, and Patrizio opens a restaurant with the money he has won. The final moments in the movie between Pat and Tiffany show that both of them are no longer wearing their wedding rings.
The film out by a mile from a lot of films out the sae year this was. The film also portrays mental illness in an exceptional way, as both of the leading figures are mentally disturbed following bereavement and marital break up.
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31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN REVIEW: MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie)
Tom Hulce (Amadeus)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland)
Aidan Quinn (Legends of The Fall)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Richard Briers (Watership Down)
John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda)
Celia Imrie (Highlander)

In 1794, Captain Walton leads a troubled, expedition to reach the North Pole. While their ship is trapped in the ice of the Arctic Sea, the crew discovers a man, Victor Frankenstein, traveling across the Arctic on his own. Victor grows up in Geneva with his adopted sister, Elizabeth Lavenza, who will become the love of his life. Before he leaves for the university at Ingolstadt, Victor’s mother dies giving birth to his brother William. Victor vows on his mother’s grave that he will find a way to conquer death.At university, Victor’s interest in the works of alchemists make him unpopular with professors. He finds a friend in Henry Clerval and a mentor in Professor Waldman. Victor comes to believe that the only way to cheat death is to create life. Professor Waldman warns Victor not to follow through with his theory; he tested it once, but ended his experiments because they resulted in an “abomination.”  While performing vaccinations, Waldman is murdered by a patient, who is later hanged in the village square. Victor breaks into Waldman’s laboratory, takes his notes, and begins to work on a creation. Victor gives his creature dead body parts from various sources, including the body of Waldman’s murderer and Waldman’s own brain. He is so obsessed with his work that not even a cholera outbreak tears him from it. Victor finally gives his creation life, but he recoils from it in horror and renounces his experiments.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe creature escapes, running off to the wilderness with Victor’s coat which contains Victor’s journal. He spends months living in a family’s barn without their knowledge, gradually learning to read and speak. He attempts to earn the family’s trust by anonymously helping them with their failing farm, and eventually converses with the patriarch, an elderly blind man, after aiding him and his grandson against violent debt collectors. But when the blind man’s family returns, they mistakenly think the creature committed the assaults against the patriarch and grandson, and chase the creature away and abandon the cottage. The creature reads Victor’s journal, learning of the circumstances of his creation. He vows revenge on his creator.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinVictor, who believes the creature has died of cholera, returns to Geneva to marry Elizabeth. He finds his younger brother William has been murdered. Justine, a servant of the Frankenstein household, is framed for the crime by the creature and hanged by a lynch mob. Victor is approached by his creation demanding that Victor make a companion for him, promising that if Victor does, he will disappear with his mate. Victor begins gathering the tools he used to create life, but when the creature insists he use Justine’s body to make the companion, Victor breaks his promise and the creature vows revenge.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinVictor and Elizabeth are married. Shortly after, unknown to them, the creature silently kills Baron Frankenstein in his own bedroom. Victor takes every precaution to defend his wife on their honeymoon, but the creature gains access to their bedroom and tears out Elizabeth’s heart, killing her. Maddened with grief beyond measure, Victor races home to bring Elizabeth back to life. He stitches Elizabeth’s head onto Justine’s fully intact body, and she awakes as a re-animated creature. The two are briefly and happily reunited until the creature appears. Victor and the monster fight for Elizabeth’s affections, but Elizabeth, horrified by what she has become, commits suicide by setting herself on fire, burning the mansion to the ground.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe story returns to the Arctic Circle. Victor tells Walton that he has been pursuing his creation for months to kill him. Soon after relating his story, Victor dies from pneumonia. Walton discovers the creature weeping over Victor’s body. The crew prepares a funeral pyre for Victor, but the ceremony is interrupted when the ice around the ship cracks. Walton invites the creature to stay with the ship, but the creature insists on remaining with the pyre. He takes the torch and burns himself alive with Victor’s body. Walton, having seen the consequences of Victor’s obsession, puts his own obsession aside and orders the ship to return home.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe ending goes beyond the scope of the original novel, and it does so in a strikingly grisly way, but the overall effect of this film is true to Shelley’s original vision. Robert De Niro gives a particularly compelling performance as Frankenstein’s monster, the look and feel of the late eighteenth-century setting is spot on, and the musical soundtrack complements the plot extraordinarily well. While I would prefer to see a movie strictly faithful to Shelley’s novel, this exemplary albeit somewhat effusive adaptation hits the core messages of the story dead on and stands, in my opinion, as a truly impressive cinematic accomplishment.

REVIEW: KILLER ELITE

Starring

Jason Statham (Spy)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck)
Robert De Niro (Limitless)
Lachy Hulme (The Matrix Reloaded)
Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow)
Aden Young (Sniper)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
Ben Mendelsohn (Ready Player One)
Grant Bowler (Defiance)
Matthew Nable (Arrow)
Michael Dorman (Triangle)
Firass Dirani (Power Rangers Mystic Force)

Jason Statham and Yvonne Strahovski in Killer Elite (2011)In 1980, mercenaries Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), Hunter (Robert De Niro), Davies (Dominic Purcell), and Meier (Aden Young) are in Mexico to assassinate a man. Danny is shot when he becomes distracted after realizing he has killed the man in front of the target’s young daughter. Affected by this, Danny retires and returns to his native Australia.Jason Statham in Killer Elite (2011)The following year, Danny is summoned to Oman to meet The Agent (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). He learns that Hunter failed a $6 million job. If Danny does not complete Hunter’s mission, Hunter will be executed. Sheikh Amr, a deposed king of a small region of Oman, wants Danny to kill three former SAS troopers—Steven Harris (Lachy Hulme), Steven Cregg (Grant Bowler), and Simon McCann (Daniel Roberts)—for killing his three eldest sons during the Dhofar Rebellion. Danny must videotape their confessions and make their deaths look like accidents, all before the terminally ill sheikh dies. This will allow the sheikh’s fourth son, Bakhait (Firass Dirani), to regain control of his father’s desert region. Davies and Meier agree to help Danny for a share of the money.Jason Statham and Clive Owen in Killer Elite (2011)Danny and Meier sneak into Harris’s house. After Harris confesses on videotape, they take him to the bathroom, intending to make it look like he slipped and hit his head. However, Harris’s girlfriend knocks on the door. While Harris and Meier are distracted, Harris attempts to break free, causing Meier to kill him. In England, Davies questions bar patrons about former SAS members. This is reported to the Feather Men, a secret society of former operatives protecting their own. Their head enforcer, Spike Logan (Clive Owen), is sent to investigate.Robert De Niro and Jason Statham in Killer Elite (2011)Davies discovers Cregg preparing for a long nighttime march in wintry weather on the Brecon Beacons mountain range. Danny infiltrates the base, disguised in uniform, and drugs Cregg’s coffee. Danny follows Cregg on the march and makes him confess before the drug sends him into shock to die of hypothermia. For their last target, their plan is to crash a remote-controlled truck into McCann’s car. With the help of the inexperienced Jake (Michael Dorman), Meier kills McCann; however, Logan and his men were watching over McCann. A gunfight ensues, and Jake accidentally kills Meier. Danny and Davies part ways. Davies is tracked down by Logan’s men, and is hit by a truck and killed while trying to escape.Robert De Niro and Jason Statham in Killer Elite (2011)Danny returns to Oman and gives the sheikh the last confession, which he has faked. Hunter is released, while Danny heads back to Australia and reunites with Anne (Yvonne Strahovski), a childhood acquaintance. Soon, he is informed by the Agent that there is one last man who participated in the sheikh’s sons’ murders and that this man, Ranulph Fiennes, is about to release a book about his experiences in the SAS. Danny sends Anne to France so Hunter can protect her. The sheikh’s son confirms that Harris was innocent. Logan, meanwhile, traces Danny through the Agent and sends a team to protect the author, but Jake distracts them, allowing Danny to shoot Fiennes. He only wounds the man, however, taking pictures that appear to show him dead. Logan captures Danny, taking him to an abandoned warehouse, but then a government agent arrives and reveals that the British government is behind the events because of the sheikh’s valuable oil reserves. A three-way battle ensues, with Danny escaping and Logan shooting the government agent.image-13-for-the-ticket-23-september-2011-gallery-490592626In Paris, the Agent tries to kidnap Anne for ransom, but Hunter beats the henchman and shoots the Agent in the leg. Hunter seems threatening at first, but spares his life. Danny and Hunter head to Oman to give the sheikh the pictures. However, Logan arrives first, tells the sheikh the pictures are fake and then stabs him to death. The sheikh’s son does not care; he gives Logan the money. Hunter spots Logan leaving, and they chase after him, along with the sheikh’s men. After stopping the sheikh’s men, Danny and Hunter confront Logan on a desert road. Hunter takes some of the money for his expenses and his family. They leave the remainder, telling Logan that he will need it to start a new life after killing the government agent and acting against the wishes of the Feather Men and the British government. Danny says that it is over for him and that Logan must make up his own mind what to do. Danny reunites with Anne.Killer-Elite-StathamThe action sequences are well done and realistic. The fact that it all happens in the 80’s gives it even more grit. What I found even nicer is that both de Niro and Statham act better than they did in a long time.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: JOY

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Bradley Cooper (Serena)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Dascha Polanco (Orange Is The New Black)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander 2)
Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her)
Elisabeth Rohm (Heroes)
Diane Ladd (Kingdom Hospital)
Melissa Rivers (First Daughter)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes Reborn)
In 1989, Joy Mangano is a divorced mother of two, working as a booking clerk for Eastern Airlines. She lives with her two young children, her mother, Terri, her grandmother, Mimi, and her ex-husband, Tony in working-class, Quogue, New York. Her parents are divorced, and her mother and father fight whenever her father shows up at her home. Joy’s older half-sister, Peggy, is an overachiever who constantly humiliates Joy in front of her children. Peggy and Joy’s father Rudy are very close. Terri spends all day lying in bed watching soap operas as a means of escape from her life, leaving Joy to run the household. Only Joy’s grandmother and her best friend Jackie encourage her to pursue her inventing ambitions and become a strong successful woman.
Robert De Niro, Elisabeth Röhm, and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (2015)
After divorcing his third wife, Joy’s father starts dating Trudy, a wealthy Italian widow with some business experience. While on Trudy’s boat, Joy drops a glass of red wine, attempts to mop up the mess, and cuts her hands on the broken glass while wringing the mop. Joy returns home and creates blueprints for a self-wringing mop. She builds a prototype with help from the employees at her father’s shop. She then convinces Trudy to invest in the product. They make a deal with a company in California to manufacture the mop’s parts at a low price. In order to avoid a potential lawsuit, Joy also pays $50,000 in royalties to a man in Hong Kong who supposedly has created a similar product. When the company repeatedly bills Joy for faulty parts they create, Joy refuses to pay the fees and tells her father, Trudy, and Peggy not to pay them.
Joy needs a quick, easy way to advertise her product, and is able to meet with QVC executive Neil Walker. Neil is impressed and shows Joy his infomercials, where celebrities sell entrepreneur’s products through a telethon system. Neil tells Joy to manufacture 50,000 mops. Joy is advised by Trudy to take out a second mortgage on her home, in order to pay her costs. The first infomercial fails, but when she goes on QVC, Joy and her product become an overnight success. Things look up for the family, with the mop earning thousands of dollars on QVC, and Terri falls for Toussaint, a Haitian plumber Joy hired earlier in the film to fix up a leak in Terri’s bedroom.
Joy’s grandmother dies suddenly. Rudy and Trudy send Peggy to California to conduct Joy’s company business. Afterwards Peggy tells Joy that she paid excessively raised production fees. Joy is angry and travels to California to meet with the manufacturer, who refuses to pay her back. Joy also discovers that the manufacturer is about to fraudulently patent her design. Her lawyer reveals that there is nothing they can do to prevent this, and Joy is forced to file for bankruptcy. Joy discovers that the manufacturers have been defrauding her the entire time she has dealt with them. She confronts the owner, and forces him to pay her back.
Several years later, Joy is wealthy and runs a successful business. She continues to take care of her father, even though he and Peggy had unsuccessfully sued her for ownership of the company. Terri is the only family member who does not live off Joy, finally finding stability through her relationship with Toussaint. Jackie and Tony remain Joy’s most valued advisers, and the film ends with her helping a young mother develop a new invention.
Based loosely on the life and career of Joy Mangano this is the story of her fight to keep her home and her very dysfunctional family together on the way to inventing the miracle mop. In other hands this could make a very bland lifetime movie but steered by David O Russell and headed by a terrific performance from Lawrence, who is proving herself to be superior to any other female actor, Joy is a great experience. It’s worth noting that both Cooper and DeNiro are superfluous in this movie, it is Jennifer Lawrence who carries it from first to last.

REVIEW: DIRTY GRANDPA

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours)
Aubrey Plaza (Life After Beth)
Zoey Deutch (Ringer)
Julianne Hough (Rock of Ages)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Jason Mantzoukas (The Night Before)
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Stargate Universe)
Adam Pally (Don’t Think Twice)
Henry Zebrowski (Heroes Reborn)
Mo Collins (Mad TV)
Danny Glover (2012)

Jason Kelly is a lawyer who works for his father. Jason’s grandmother dies, and after the funeral, his Army veteran grandfather, Dick, asks Jason to drive him to Boca Raton, Florida. Jason is getting married to his controlling fiancée, Meredith, in one week, but decides to take his grandfather anyway.On the way there, the two meet Jason’s old photography classmate, Shadia, along with her friends Lenore and Bradley. Dick and Lenore are instantly attracted to each other. Dick tells the girls that he is a professor and that Jason is a photographer. They all go their separate ways, but Dick convinces Jason that they should meet the girls at Daytona Beach, Florida, because Dick wants to have sex with Lenore. The two go to a golf course, where Dick flirts with two women.At Daytona Beach, they meet up with the girls and the girls’ friends, Cody and Brah, whom they compete in beer jugging. That night, a drunk Jason, wearing nothing but a Hornet fanny pack, parties and smokes crack cocaine that he gets from a drug dealer named Pam. He steals a motorcycle and wakes up the next day on the beach. During an awkward FaceTime with Meredith, a boy grabs the fanny pack and takes it off; his father suspects Jason of being a pervert and calls the police, who promptly arrest Jason. Dick bails him out, and the two visit Dick’s old Army friend in a nursing home. They meet the girls again and enter a flexing contest with Cody and Brah; when they lose, Dick alters a T-shirt cannon to fire a beer can at the winning duo, hospitalizing them and stay at their place. After Dick reveals to Jason that he was a member of the Special Forces, the two go to a nightclub with the girls. Dick gets into a fight with some men after they bully Bradley for his homosexuality. The next day, Jason goes to a protest with Shadia and she tells him that she is leaving soon and going to live on a ship for a year.That night, Jason plans on telling Shadia who he really is, but before he can, Cody does an online search on him and tells Shadia that Jason is already engaged. Jason then gets caught with drugs and is thrown into jail again. The next day, Dick bails him out and tells Jason that his real reason for the trip was to convince Jason not to go through with the wedding. Jason leaves Dick and drives back home. During his wedding rehearsal, Dick hacks into the computer system, revealing embarrassing photos of Jason during the party. Jason says that he cannot marry Meredith, who reveals that she had an affair. He, Dick, and Pam use Pam’s ice cream truck to catch up with the bus that Shadia is on as she is leaving. Jason and Shadia kiss, and he gets on the bus with her. Dick goes to his house in Boca Raton and finds Lenore there waiting for him, and they have sex. Dick and Lenore get married and have a baby, and Jason and Shadia are named the godparents.Robert De Niro is also awesome on the role all throughout. I also really liked the supporting characters, especially Jason Mantzoukas as a drug dealer who had me laughing every time he was on screen. Sure this movie isn’t nowhere near a comedic masterpiece and nor is it trying to be. It is a fun ride from beginning to end, and despite all the clichés, the jokes are what make this ride worth it.

REVIEW: CITY BY THE SEA

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
John Dorman (Gotham)

Vincent LaMarca (Robert De Niro) is a veteran New York City Police Department detective, whose criminal father had been executed for murder, after a child whom he had kidnapped was killed. Vincent has had to live with this stigma hanging over his own reputation, and history begins to repeat itself when his own son, Joey LaMarca (James Franco), a junkie, becomes involved in a drug-related killing. Joey suddenly comes to the attention of Vincent’s current girlfriend, Michelle (Frances McDormand), who was unaware that he even had a son, and she can not understand why Vincent is unwilling to help him.Joey’s girlfriend Gina (Eliza Dushku), who is struggling to stay sober for their infant son Angelo, comes into Vincent’s life, asking him to save Joey. She later abandons the child, leaving him with Vincent. Joey gets deeper into trouble when the local drug enforcer, Spyder (William Forsythe), kills Vincent’s cop partner Reg (George Dzundza). Reg had been helping Vincent to clear Joey’s name, but Joey is blamed for his murder. As his fellow police officers search for Joey as a suspected “cop killer,” Vincent decides to set aside his self-imposed isolation, and to help save his son’s life.City by the Sea is a must see for De Niro fans and a good watch for anyone into gritty dramas

 

REVIEW: BORN TO WIN

CAST

George Segal (2012)
Robert De Niro (Machete)
Karen Black (House of 1000 Corpses)
Paula Prentiss (Catch-22)
Héctor Elizondo (Last Man Standing)

The film follows Jay Jay (Segal), a former hair dresser who has become a drug addict. He lives his new life by doing deals for Vivian (Elizondo) from time to time. One day he meets Parm (Black), a free spirited girl. The two fall in love. Jay Jay’s drug habit grows, and he soon resorts to robbery. On the threat of arrest, he works alongside two dirty policemen by becoming a narc, and reports on his former fellow junkies. Yet, as the movie continues, Jay Jay sinks deeper into turmoil with feelings of self-hatred.228ef8fbe7b518dcfdaaa2da3ff6f5f9This isn’t a great film and it isn’t superbly directed. It’s a bit hard to watch at times due to a grainy transfer and bad audio. But it’s reminiscent of Al Pacino’s “Panic in Needle Park” so far as it presents a realistic, gritty, depressing vision of junkies operating on the streets, and how miserable your life can become by resorting to drugs (mainly heroin). A good, rewarding picture