REVIEW: FIRE ON THE AMAZON

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Minions)
Craig Sheffer (Nightbreed)
Juan Fernández (Crocodile Dundee II)
Judith Chapman (The Sweetest Thing)

In Bolivia’s Amazon basin, corporate cattle ranches are replacing the rain forest. When Santos, charismatic leader of the union of rubber tappers, forges an alliance with Natives to protest deforestation, he is assassinated. O’Brien, a US photo-journalist who has no skills as an investigator, wants a story when he thinks the police have framed and murdered an innocent Native as the assassin. In his search for the truth, he involves Lysa Rothman, who worked for Santos and with whom he falls in love. As he gets deeper into trouble with the cops and the real assassin, he needs not only Lysa’s help but also that of the Natives’ leader.A long, dull, bad movie made before Sandra hit it big in “Speed”. Memorable mostly for  Sandra Bullock’s doing a cinematic sex scene.

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REVIEW: MINIONS

CAST (VOICES)

Pierre Coffin (Brad & Gary)
Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Steve Coogan (Night at The Museum)
Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous)
Geoffrey Rush (Quills)
Steve Carell (Evan Almighty)
Katy Mixon (American Housewife)
Hiroyuki Sanada (Life)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Mindy Sterling (Drop Dead Gorgeous)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)

Minions are small, yellow creatures who have existed since the beginning of time, evolving from yellow single-celled organisms into beings which exist only to serve history’s most despicable masters.[14] After rolling their leader T-Rex down a volcano, getting their caveman leader eaten by a bear, crushing a Pharaoh under the pyramids while his people survive, burning Dracula on his birthday party, and accidentally firing a cannon at Napoleon, the Minions are driven into isolation andstart a new life in a massive cave in the Arctic. After many years, the Minions become depressed, restless, and unmotivated without a master to serve. To regain their dignity and sense of purpose, Kevin, one fearless Minion, decides to set out to find a new master and asks for help. Stuart, a musically inclined Minion, and Bob, a young and inexperienced but enthusiastic Minion, are recruited.The trio journeys to New York, where the year is 1968. After spending the day attempting to blend in, the Minions end up in a department store for the night, where they discover a hidden commercial broadcast for villains advertising Villain-Con; a convention for villains and supervillains in Orlando. The trio hitchhikes a ride with the Nelson family and impress them with their accidental villainy. At the convention, they see Scarlet Overkill, the first female supervillain, who hires them and takes them to her home in the United Kingdom.Scarlet explains the plan to steal the Imperial State Crown from the Queen of the United Kingdom and promises to reward the Minions if they steal it but kill them if they do not. Her husband Herb supplies them with inventions to aid in the heist, but they are nearly caught when they break into the Tower of London, which leads to a chase that ends with Bob crashing into the Sword in the Stone and pulling it free, removing the Queen from the throne and becoming King Bob. Enraged, Scarlet confronts the Minions, so Bob abdicates the throne in her favor. Undeterred because she feels betrayed, Scarlet imprisons the three in a dungeon to be tortured by Herb before her coronation, but they escape with the intention to apologize to Scarlet.Making their way to Westminster Abbey, the three of them interrupt the coronation by accidentally dropping a chandelier on Scarlet, who orders their execution. Dozens of villains chase them and Bob and Stuart are caught, while Kevin finds his way into a pub. He sees Scarlet on a television, promising that she will kill Stuart and Bob if Kevin does not show up by dawn. Kevin sneaks into Scarlet’s home to steal weapons but inadvertently triggers a machine Herb was building and enlarges himself. He tramples through London, rescuing his friends just as the other Minions reunite with them. Scarlet tries to eradicate them, but Kevin swallows a massive missile she fires at them. Scarlet and Herb attempt to escape with her rocket-dress, but Kevin holds onto it. The missile detonates, causing it to explode. After the Minions briefly mourn him, Kevin returns, having returned to his normal size.The original Queen from the earlier part of the story receives her place on the throne and crown back and rewards Bob with a tiny crown for his teddy bear and Stuart an electric guitar, and she knights Kevin for his heroism. She suddenly realizes that her crown is missing, and Kevin leads a chase after Scarlet and Herb, who survived the explosion and are fleeing through the crowd with the bejeweled crown until they are suddenly frozen in place by a young Gru, who steals the crown from them and takes off in a rocket-powered motorbike while the Minions stare in awe. Bob gives his crown to the frozen Scarlet, and the Minions see Gru as their new potential master and give chase to follow him home.Very enjoyable and amusing film for both kids and adults.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: CRASH (2004)

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Heat)
Matt Dillon (Wild Things)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Terrence Howard (Empire)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible II)
Michael Pena (American hUSTLE)
Ryan Phillippe (ANtitrust)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Loretta Devine (Little Nikita)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss?)
Kathleen York (The Guardian)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)


The film begins with commentary by passenger Detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) having suffered a car accident with his partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito). He mentions that the denizens of Los Angeles have lost their “sense of touch.” Ria and the driver of the other car, Kim Lee, exchange racially charged insults. When Waters exits the car, he arrives at a police investigation crime scene concerning the discovery of “a dead kid.”
While purchasing a revolver at a gun store, Farhad (Shaun Toub), a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh), argue in Persian over what box of bullets they should buy. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as “Osama”. Farhad clarifies that he is an American citizen but the store owner continues exchanging racially stereotypical insults at Farhad and has the security guard escort him out of the store. Dorri demands the store owner to give her the gun or give her back the money. After the store owner gives the gun to Dorri, she asks for “the ones in the red box”. The store owner asks why, but Dorri does not answer and insists on buying that particular box. In another part of town, two black men, Anthony (Ludacris) and Peter (Larenz Tate), argue over racial stereotyping of African Americans after Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock), the wife of the local district attorney Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser), walks in another direction whilst fearfully staring at them.
Anthony and Peter carjack the married couple as they are about to enter their Lincoln Navigator. Later, at the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz (Michael Peña) is changing their locks when Jean notices his tattoos. She loudly complains to Rick about having been carjacked and now having to endure a Hispanic man changing their locks, feeling he will give copies of the keys to “his gang banger friends”. Having overheard this, Daniel leaves the keys on Jean’s kitchen counter. Detectives Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers. The surviving shooter is a white male, identified as an undercover police officer. The dead shooter, a black male, is revealed also to be an undercover police officer. There is a large amount of cash found in the black officer’s trunk. This is the third time the white officer has shot and killed a black man.
LAPD officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) calls an HMO on behalf of his father and has an argument with a representative named Shaniqua Johnson (Loretta Devine). He then gets into the squad car with his partner Tom Hansen (Ryan Philippe) and sees a car passenger performing fellatio on the driver of a moving vehicle. They pull over the Navigator similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions. They order the couple, television director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton), to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. This annoys Ryan, who manually molests Christine under the pretense of administering a pat-down. Intimidated, Cameron says nothing. The couple is released without a citation. Once home, Christine becomes enraged that Cameron did nothing while she was being violated. Cameron insists that what he did was correct and storms out.
Arriving home from work long after dark, Daniel finds his young daughter, Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez), hiding under her bed after hearing a gunshot outside. To comfort her, Daniel gives her an “invisible impenetrable cloak”, which makes her feel safe enough to fall asleep in her bed. In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter, arguing and distracted, hit a Korean man while passing a parked white van. They argue about what to do with him, finally dumping him in front of a hospital and driving away. Due to the blood in the vehicle, they are unable to receive payment for the carjacking. The next day, at the Los Angeles Police Department station, Hansen talks to his superior, Lt. Dixon (Keith David), about switching partners. Dixon, a black man, claims that Hansen’s charge of Ryan as a racist could cost both Hansen and Dixon their jobs. Dixon suggests a transfer to a one-man car and mockingly tells Hansen that he should justify it by claiming to have uncontrollable flatulence.  Ryan visits Shaniqua and apologizes for the argument. He explains that his father was previously diagnosed with a bladder infection, but he fears it may be prostate cancer. Shaniqua nearly calls security to escort Ryan out of her office when he proceeds to insult Shaniqua by calling her an affirmative action hire. When Ryan asks for his father to see a different doctor, Shaniqua denies the request and he storms out of her office in anger. Meanwhile, Daniel is seen replacing a lock at Farhad’s shop and tries to explain to him that the door frame needs to be replaced. Farhad, whose English is limited, misunderstands and accuses Daniel of cheating him, which causes Daniel to leave.The next morning, Farhad discovers the store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti. His insurance company does not cover the damage, calling it a case of negligence due to the defective door. When Farhad is told that his shop will be closing down, he vows revenge on Daniel. Detective Waters visits his mother (Beverly Todd), a hard drug abuser. She asks him to find his missing younger brother. He promises and takes notice that there is almost no food in the apartment as he is leaving. When he tries to present evidence in the shooting between undercover police officers, his superiors tell him not to reveal the cash in the black officer’s trunk, saying that their work in crafting a non-racist image for the department will be undone.
Jean comes home and sees dishes in the dishwasher. She accosts her Hispanic maid Maria for not putting them in the cupboards. Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. Upon recognizing Ryan, Christine becomes hysterical, but gasoline is leaking from the tank and running downhill towards another wreck, which has already caught fire. He calms her down, and with the assistance of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter approach another Navigator which happens to be Cameron’s. They only see Cameron driving after they open the door and are shocked to see that the driver is black. Cameron is tired of being pushed around and resists. Anthony tells Peter to shoot Cameron, but Peter does not.
As police officers arrive, Cameron and Anthony both race for the car and jump in. Cameron drives away, with Anthony continuing to point a gun at him. A car chase ensues. Hansen is one of the police officers who has responded and recognizes Cameron’s vehicle. Cameron drives into a dead end, puts Anthony’s gun into his pocket, and gets out of the car, all the while yelling insults at the officers. Just before he pulls out the gun, Hansen convinces him to stop aggravating the situation and to go home. Hansen vouches for Cameron, fending off the other officers, and promising to give him a “harsh” warning. Later, Cameron tells Anthony that as a black man he is embarrassed for him and drops Anthony off at a bus stop.
Farhad locates Daniel’s house and waits in ambush. Just as Daniel’s daughter Lara jumps into his arms, attempting to protect him with the “invisible cloak”, Daniel’s wife Elizabeth (Karina Arroyave) runs out the front door and watches in horror as Farhad shoots Lara. It takes the grief-stricken parents and Farhad a moment to realize that Lara is miraculously unharmed. The box of ammunition that Dorri had selected contained blanks. Farhad later tells his daughter that he believes the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. Jean is complaining to someone she knows over the phone that she wakes up angry every day and does not know why. Immediately afterwards, she slips and falls down a flight of stairs, spraining her ankle. Jean phones Rick, telling him of her accident. Whilst resting in her bed, Jean hugs Maria, saying she is the only true friend she has ever had and apologizes.
Peter, who is hitchhiking, is picked up by Hansen. Peter sees that Hansen has a small statuette of Saint Christopher like his own. He begins to laugh as he realizes that they have so much in common, but Hansen thinks that he is being laughed at. Hansen pulls over and tells Peter to get out if he wants to be “funny”. Peter moves to pull the statuette out of his pocket in explanation, but Hansen believes he is pulling out a gun and mistakenly shoots and kills Peter. Hansen dumps the body in the bush beside a road and then torches his own car. Peter is revealed to be Waters’ missing brother. Waters and his mother meet at the morgue, where Dorri is revealed to be a coroner and Waters promises to find who is responsible. Mrs. Waters blames her surviving son for his brother’s death, claiming he was always too busy to look for Peter.
Anthony returns to the white van owned by the Korean man whom they had run over the night before. Finding the keys still hanging from the door lock, he drives the van away. The Korean man’s wife Kim Lee arrives at the previously mentioned hospital looking for her husband, the man who was run over, named Choi Jin Gui. Conscious and coherent, he tells her to go and immediately cash a check that he has in his wallet. The check is most likely payment for the contents of the van. Anthony has driven the white van to a chop shop he frequents, and as they inspect the van, a number of Cambodian immigrants are discovered locked in the back of the van, revealing that Choi was involved in human trafficking. Anthony is offered $500 for each person in the van but refuses out of disgust. Anthony drives to Chinatown and sets the Cambodian people free. As Anthony drives away, he passes a car crash, which turns out to involve Shaniqua. Shaniqua and the other driver get out and begin to exchange racial slurs.Although the blatant racism and bigotry may make us feel uncomfortable it is nonetheless a very realistic portrait and though few of us admit it we have all at some time or another made the same assumptions, if only in the company of those we feel comfortable with.

 

REVIEW: WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Kris Kamm (Coach)
Elizabeth Berridge (The Funhouse)
Brian McNamara (Army Wives)
Paul Johansson (Van Helsing)
Michael Landes (Final Destination 2)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)

hqdefaultFrankie (Elizabeth Berridge), Amanda (Sandra Bullock), MJ (Rae Dawn Chong, and Banks (Kris Kamm) are housemates, who are fresh out of college. Frankie is a social worker, who is dating Taylor, a lawyer (Brian McNamara). Amanda, an artist, meets and falls in love with Alexander Midnight, a performance artist (Fisher Stevens). She is also trying to guide her younger brother, Willie (Michael Landes), with wisdom, patience, and compassion, after the death of their mother.jPeC9NbFKDLtZBMlzEc7RLwnQoTThe third roommate, MJ, is a stockbroker, who is actually very promiscuous and has a pension for drinking. She even sleeps with Taylor, thus betraying Frankie.The final housemate, Banks, is an actor who is gay, and who is also best friends with Amanda. This movie touches on a group of twentysomethings in California, circa the early 1990s, highlighting the social issues of that time period, like teenage drinking, homosexuality, rape, infidelity, and problems with trust, amongst many other themes.Sandra-Bullock_The-Vanishing_1993The story builds slowly, and doesn’t go where you expect it to or hope it will, but rewards those who are patient and observant.

REVIEW: TWO WEEKS NOTICE

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Hugh Grant (Cloud Atlas)
Alicia Witt (Vanilla Sky)
Francie Swift (Vamp)
Dana Ivey (The Addams Family)
Robert Klein (How To Lose A Guy in 10 days)
Heather Burns (Bewitched)
David Haig (My Boy Jack)
Katheryn Winnick (Vikings)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)

Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is a liberal lawyer who specializes in environmental law in New York City. George Wade (Hugh Grant) is an arrogant billionaire real estate tycoon who has almost everything and knows almost nothing. Lucy’s hard work and devotion to others contrast sharply with George’s world-weary recklessness and greed. Lucy meets George in an attempt to stop the destruction of the Coney Island community center from her childhood. He attempts to hire her to replace his old Chief Counsel, Amber. She knows of his playboy tendencies, but he promises to protect the community center if she works for him.She soon finds that what he really requires is advice in all aspects of his life. She becomes his indispensable aide, and he calls her for every little thing. She finally gets fed up with the situation and gives him her two weeks’ notice of resignation after he sends her a message of an “emergency” while she is at her friend’s wedding, since the emergency is, as she finds out, that he is unable to choose what to wear to an event. He is deeply troubled by her resignation and tries to convince her to stay. He also tries to block her from getting any other jobs, as an attempt to make her stay. He finally gives in and has her train her replacement, the attractive and flirtatious June Carver (Alicia Witt), before she quits. Lucy then becomes jealous of June before she leaves.Lucy finds out that the community center is going to be knocked down and argues with George. She arrives at his hotel and finds June and George in his apartment in lingerie during their game of “strip chess”. George sees that Lucy is hurt and she leaves. He confronts her the next day, he last day, saying that she must have feelings from what she saw the other night. Lucy, still upset about the community center, claims that George promised her the community center and that she didn’t promise to sleep with him. George says hurtful things to Lucy until he leaves.After she’s gone, George realizes that his time with her has really changed him, as he keeps the promise he made to her in the beginning even if it means it costs his company millions. Meanwhile, in her new job, Lucy is missing him terribly. He goes in search for her, and they confess their feelings for each other. The movie ends with Lucy ordering take out in her apartment with George making jokes about the size of the apartment. Usually when she orders and is asked how many, Lucy replies, “one,” but this time, with a silly smile, Lucy replies, “This is for two.”The script, by director Marc Lawrence, has its share of lame one-liners, but it keeps a steady, merry tempo that distracts from the film’s shortcomings at least somewhat while focusing on its key strengths, Bullock and Grant. Lawrence’s direction is similarly solid. This is one film that makes a serious point of being goofy and glamorous all at once, and it works. A decent enough film for a rainy Saturday.

REVIEW: ME & THE MOB (WHO DO I GOTTA KILL?)

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
James Lorinz (King of New York)
John Costelloe (Die Hard 2)
Tony Darrow (The Sopranos)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Stephen Lee  (Robocop 2)

hqdefaultWho says crime doesn’t pay? The mob will pay Jimmy Corona anything to stay away. But, then again, so would most people. His agent brushes off Jimmy’s latest book proposal: detailing the conspiracy between Lee Harvey Oswald and Marylin Monroe to assassinate JFK. His girlfriend gives him his walking papers in the midst of wild sex when he can’t give her one good reason to stay. Actually he’s too exhausted to speak. And to top it all off, he’s suffering from writer’s block. So what’s a poor guy to do? Join the mob? Who-Do-I-Gotta-Kill-images-f4557e9f-4927-4fdf-b899-038d7aef764Okay, this is a really bad movie. That said, there are some moments here that are so over-the-top bad that they’re funny. The fake accents are so horrible that they become campy and the now notorious love scene involving Sandra Bullock is outright hilarious…and very embarassing. How she could be making love without removing a single garment is a mystery, but the acting in that scene is ridiculous, as well. However, it is certainly memorable. Sandra Bullock shows up for another short scene later in the film, but her role is essentially a throw away part. Then there is the sudden appearance of notable actor Steve Buscemi at the very beginning of the film in which he seems almost ashamed to be in. His character never returns to the story after that. By the end of the film there are so many plot twists that heartfelt boredom ensues. The acting is bad, the budget is obviously low, and the script, which invokes the occasional giggle, is a quivering mass of bulbous drivel. Avoid this film.

REVIEW: ALL ABOUT STEVE

 

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Bradley Cooper (Limitless)
Thoams Haden Church (Sideways)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Katy Mixon (Mike & Molly)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Howard Hesseman (Halloween II)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Kerri Kenney (Anger Management)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)

Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle writer for the Sacramento Herald, is socially awkward and considers her pet hamster her only true friend. Her parents decide to set her up on a blind date. Mary’s expectations are low, as she tells her hamster. Mary is pleasantly surprised when her date turns out to be handsome and charming Steve Miller, a cameraman for the television news network CCN. Steve does not reciprocate her feelings. After an attempt at an intimate moment fails, in part because of her awkwardness and inability to stop talking about vocabulary, Steve fakes a phone call about covering the news out of town. Trying to get Mary out of his truck, he tells her he wishes she could be there.
Mary believes him and decides to pursue him. Mary’s obsession gets her fired when she creates a crossword titled “All About Steve”. Following her termination, Mary decides to track Steve around the country in the hopes of winning his affection. She is encouraged by CCN news reporter Hartman Hughes, who hopes to use Mary’s encyclopedic knowledge in his reports to help himself get a promotion to become an anchor. On the road, Mary annoys some bus passengers so much, the driver abandons her. She hitchhikes with a trucker named Norm, then meets and travels with a pair of protesters, Elizabeth, a ditzy but sweet and likeable girl, and Howard, who sells apples he carves into celebrities. She gradually grows close to the two.

Steve and crew end up covering a breaking news story: an old mine collapsed with numerous deaf children stuck inside. Initially, it appears that the children are rescued. Mary, who arrives on the scene, accidentally falls into the mine shaft as well while making a beeline for Steve. It turns out that not all the children have been rescued, and Mary is trapped with one left behind. Steve begins to realize that Mary, in her own unique way, is a beautiful person. Just as Mary figures a way out, the two are joined by Hartman, who is made to feel guilty by Elizabeth and Howard for getting Mary into this predicament. Mary’s rescue plan works, but she lets Hartman take the credit. Mary finally realizes she does not need Steve to be happy. She states, “If you love someone, set him free; if you have to stalk him, he probably wasn’t yours in the first place.” After the end credits, a competitive TV reporter, in despair that Hartman got popularity by falling into the mine while trying to save Mary, also jumps into the mine.I was a little dubious at first at watching this film as I hadn’t heard good things…..But what can I say it was a laugh from start to finish. Sandra Bullock is as always fantastic. A fun film not to be taken seriously.