REVIEW: AWAKE

CAST

Hayden Christensen (Jumper)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Lena Olin (Alias)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Sam Roberds (A.I)
Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit)
Georgina Chapman (Match Point)
David Harbour (Suicide Squad)

Young billionaire Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen) is in love with Samantha “Sam” Lockwood (Jessica Alba), his mother’s personal assistant. Clay requires a heart transplant. Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard) is Clay’s heart surgeon and friend. Clay asks Dr. Harper to arrange his elopement with Sam. They marry privately at midnight, then Clay goes to the hospital for the operation. While Clay’s mother, Lilith (Lena Olin), await completion of his surgery, Clay encounters anesthesia awareness.The surgical pain causes Clay to have a clairvoyant experience exposing Dr. Harper’s plot to murder Clay, also revealing that Sam worked at the hospital under Dr. Harper and has conspired with him against Clay. Sam’s plan was to poison the donor heart (by injecting Adriamycin) to cause its rejection, thus murdering Clay to collect insurance money to pay off Dr. Harper’s malpractice lawsuits. The scheme unravels and Lilith, realizing what has happened, sacrifices herself so that Clay, who is close to death, can live. She commits suicide so her heart can be switched for the poisoned one, and save Clay. Though Sam tries to get away with what she did, Dr. Harper feels guilty and he holds onto proof so she can be charged too. Another surgical team takes over the operation, as Clay barely clings to life and as the conspirators are running away. The new team takes Lilith’s heart and transplant’s it into Clay’s body, as Clay and Lilith have their final moments together in spirit (out of body experience). The new head surgeon announces that Clay has come back to life, as the new team stitch Clay’s wound. Clay, in spirit, is still in the afterlife with Lilith, tries to commit suicide to stay with his mother. Clay makes his new heart stop beating and the surgeons have to use the defibrillator in attempt to revive Clay. As Clay resists being revived, Lilith forces Clay (in the “afterlife-world”) to revisit a scene from his childhood, when Lilith accidentally killed Clay’s abusive father. This scene reveals the truth for Clay and connects his childhood flashbacks. After seeing this scene, Clay gives away to revival, and before the surgeons could shock his body again, Clay allows his new heart to begin beating. As Harper narrates his thoughts ending with “He is awake”, in the operating room, the surgeons finally remove the eye tapes and Clay opens his eyes.Awake has a simple but effective story. The cast is excellent, leaded by the still gorgeous Lena Olin, Terrence Howard, Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen. The plot point was a great surprise for me and I really like this original movie.

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REVIEW: BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE

CAST

Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys)
Nia Long (Stigmata)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jascha Washington (Frenemies)
Ella Mitchell (Lord Shango)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Cedric the Entertainer (A Huanted House)
Aldis Hodge (Red Sands)

The film begins in an illegal underground dog-fighting arena in Korea, where an FBI agent, John Maxwell (Paul Giamatti), has been identified. John is ordered to be killed by a Korean mob boss, but is eventually rescued by his undercover partner and master of disguise, Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence). Suddenly, a group of FBI agents storm around the arena.

Meanwhile, a criminal named Lester Vesco (Terrence Howard), who was originally serving a life sentence in prison for murder and armed robbery, escapes from his cell by killing the doctor and stealing his car. The FBI assigns Malcolm and John to capture Lester by sending them to small-town Cartersville, Georgia to stake out the house of a heavyset, elderly African American woman, Hattie Mae Pierce (Ella Mitchell; whom her friends call “Big Momma”), the estranged Southern grandmother of Lester’s ex-girlfriend, Sherry Pierce (Nia Long), who supposedly aided Lester in his original bank robbery by giving him the key to the vault. After Big Momma unexpectedly leaves town to help her ill friend within a couple of weeks, Malcolm and John sneak into her house to plant security cameras and tap the phones. Sherry later calls Big Momma’s house and Malcolm disguises his voice as Big Momma in order to lure Sherry and possibly obtain a confession. The plan works, and Malcolm and John work together on a Big Momma disguise costume before Sherry’s arrival the next day. The next day, Sherry arrives at Big Momma’s house with her 10-year-old son, Trent (Jascha Washington). However, Malcolm’s inexperience with cooking and strange behavior prompt Sherry to believe that Big Momma might have gone senile. Malcolm also has to deal with Big Momma’s lecherous boyfriend, Ben Rawley (Carl Wright), act as midwife for Ritha (Tichina Arnold), who has gone into labor, and attend self-defense classes under Ritha’s older brother and dim-witted security guard, Nolan (Anthony Anderson), whom Malcolm handily defeats and humiliates in front of all the other old women.

After Malcolm almost damages the suit during the night, he tries to sneak back to the safe house where he and John are staying to capture Lester. However, Sherry catches him on the porch, and Malcolm poses as a “handyman” after just barely hiding the suit in a bush. Malcolm and John repair the suit, and when Malcolm leaves town with Sherry, John searches the safe house for any trace of the money Lester had stolen from the bank, but to no avail. Malcolm also bonds with Trent when he defends him against the two older guys who bullied Trent and kicked him off the court so they could play. Malcolm and Trent eventually beat the boys at basketball, amazing Nolan and Trent. Malcolm also begins to bond with Sherry and Trent by accompanying them on a fishing trip. After Malcolm returns to the safe house with John that evening, Nolan bursts in and tries to arrest Malcolm and John for dismembering Big Momma. Malcolm and John identify themselves and reluctantly recruit Nolan to help them out, promising Nolan that Malcolm and John will recommend him for a place in the FBI if he succeeds.

Malcolm, Sherry, and Trent go to church, where the Reverend (Cedric the Entertainer) calls on Malcolm to give his testimony. While posing as Big Momma, Malcolm attempts to influence Sherry and Trent by giving them his testimony about the importance of not keeping secrets. While returning to Big Momma’s house after mass, Malcolm pulls his gun on Big Momma’s surprise birthday party. During the party that evening, the real Big Momma returns home prematurely, whom John tries to stall her. Malcolm accidentally stumbles across the stolen money hidden in Trent’s footlocker. Sherry sees this, and tells Malcolm the real story: Lester had merely been playing her for a fool the whole time. Lester wooed Sherry, stole her keys, and got into the vault during the robbery, which Sherry did not tell anyone about her stolen keys out of fear of getting fired. Malcolm goes off to call for his real name to come help them out. In the bathroom, John quietly tells Nolan that the real Big Momma is back, and Nolan accidentally locks Malcolm out of the house to think that he is the real Big Momma.

Meanwhile, Lester finally arrives in Big Momma’s house, where he successfully tracked Sherry, Trent, and the money. Lester tries to take Sherry and Trent out of the house with him, but as he allows Sherry to say goodbye to the real Big Momma, Nolan spots Lester’s gun and attempts to arrest him. However, he accidentally unloads his own gun which gives Lester the advantage to draw his weapon. Luckily, Malcolm breaks through the window just in time and fights Lester, causing confusion among the partygoers as they see two Big Mommas at once. In the ensuing struggle, Lester shoots John in his right shoulder, and ends up ripping Malcolm’s mask during a fistfight to reveal his identity. Nonetheless, Malcolm eventually subdues Lester, who tries to shoot him from behind and is knock out of the window. Sherry and Trent are heartbroken to realize that Malcolm was just an FBI agent the whole time, and they refuse to speak to him, even when the police arrest Lester and paramedics take John to the hospital for a gunshot wounded in his right arm.

In the epilogue, Malcolm goes to church on Sunday morning to testify Sherry, Trent, and Big Momma. Malcolm delivers his confession and heartfelt speech to Sherry and Trent and admits that he genuinely loves them. Big Momma eventually forgives Malcolm with a big, strong hug, and the crowd cheers as Malcolm and Sherry kiss. Malcolm and Sherry invite Trent over for a group hug and the crowd celebrates as Big Momma and the choir sings “Oh Happy Day” during the film’s closing credits.

An oldie but a goodie. Time less classic fully of belly laughs. Perfect for a wet afternoon

REVIEW: MOVIE 43

CAST

Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow)
Greg Kinnear (Ghost Town)
Common (Wanted)
Hugh Jackman (Logan)
Kate Winslet (Divergent)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Chris Pratt (Passengers)
Kristen Bell (Bad Moms)
Seth MacFalrane (Family Guy)
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Charlie Saxton (Hung)
Leslie Bibb (American Housewife)
Uma Thurman (KillBill)
Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man)
Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
Will Sasso (Happy Gilmore)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad)
Chloe Grace Moretz (The 5th Wave)
Odessa Rae (Hard Candy)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man 2)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
Tony Shalhoub (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Gerard Butler (Gamer)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls)
Halle Berry (X-Men)
Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers)
Jason Sudeikis (Son of Zorn)
Julie Claire (Devious Minds)
Stephen Merchant (The Office)
Johnny Knoxville (The Last Stand)
Richard Gere (Primal Fear)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
J.B. Smoove (Date Night)
Jarrad Paul (The Grinder)
Katrina Bowden (30 Rock)
Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World)
Aasif Mandvi (The Dictator)
Julianne Moore (Carrie)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Fisher Stevens (Hail, Caesar!)

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Movie 43 is a series of different skits containing different scenes and scenarios.

Movie 43

The Pitch

The film is composed of multiple comedy shorts presented through an overarching segment titled “The Pitch”, in which Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), a mad screenwriter, is attempting to pitch a script to film executive Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear). After revealing several of the stories in his script, Wessler becomes agitated when Schraeder dismisses his outrageous ideas, and he pulls a gun on him and forces him to listen to multiple other stories before making Schraeder consult his manager, Bob Mone (Common), to purchase the film. When they do so, Mone’s condescending, humiliating attitude toward Schraeder angers him to the point that, after agreeing to make the film “the biggest film since Howard the Duck”, he confronts Mone in the parking lot with a gun and tries to make him perform fellatio on the security guard (Will Sasso) (Wessler had gotten on the lot by doing the same thing) and kill him if he does not make the film. Wessler tries to calm Schraeder down with more story ideas to no avail, but Mone pulls out a gun and shoots Schraeder to death. The segment ends with it being revealed that it is being shot by a camera crew as part of the movie, leading into the final segments.

Alternative version (The Thread)

The structure of the film released in some countries, like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, differs. Instead of a pitch, the films are connected by a group of three teenagers searching for the most banned film in the world, Movie 43, which will ultimately lead to the destruction of civilization. Calvin Cutler (Mark L. Young) and his friend J.J. (Adam Cagley) make a video in the style of MTV’s Jackass and upload it on YouTube where it instantly reaches over 1,000,000 views. This turns out to be an April Fool’s prank from Calvin’s younger brother Baxter (Devin Eash), who cloned YouTube and hyper-inflated the views while working on his science project. Calvin and J.J. attempt to get revenge. They tell Baxter of a film that’s so dangerous it will cause the annihilation of the world. The movie is known as Movie 43. While J.J. and Baxter look for Movie 43 on Google, Calvin retrieves Baxter’s laptop and loads it with viruses from porn sites, and masturbates to the naked women on the porn sites in a bathroom. Baxter finds hundreds of results for Movie 43 on a website referred to by him as a dark corner of the Internet. They find the sketches starting from the 43rd search on the list of results. As he and J.J. keep watching videos, they are interrupted by a man known as Vrankovich (Fisher Stevens) and a group of Chinese mobsters (Tim Chou and James Hsu) who are tempted to find Movie 43, even going as far as to take J.J.’s classmate Stevie Schraeder (Nate Hartley), film executive Griffin Schraeder’s oldest son, hostage. Vrankovich warns them that if they find Movie 43, civilization will be left to ruins. They ignore his claims and keep searching. They eventually find the real, the one and only Movie 43, which turns out to involve Baxter as a profane commando who leads a group of recruits to survive after the world has ended. As Calvin finishes ruining Baxter’s laptop, their mother (Beth Littleford) enters, wearing the same shirt and shorts that the porn site women wear, causing Calvin to flip out, have visions, and find semen from his erect crotch on his hand in shock and horror. Afterward, a deadly earthquake rumbles and mankind is lost. However, a few years later the only survivor, a crippled Calvin, finds Baxter’s laptop still working despite viral infections. He watches the last remaining skits on the laptop. This version of the film was released in the U.S. as part of the Blu-ray Disc of Movie 43 as an unrated alternate cut of the film

The Catch

Beth (Kate Winslet) is a single businesswoman who goes on a blind date with Davis (Hugh Jackman), the city’s most eligible bachelor. When the two arrive together at a restaurant, Beth is shocked when he removes his scarf, revealing a pair of testicles dangling from his neck. Over dinner it confuses her that Davis fails to acknowledge his anatomical abnormality, and that nobody seems to be surprised by it. When two friends of Davis (Roy Jenkins and Katie Finneran) come by, one of them convinces him to give Beth a kiss. Davis agrees, but when he kisses her, his neck-testicles are dangling near Beth’s mouth, causing her to scream and budge out of the kiss.

Homeschooled

Having recently moved, Sean (Alex Cranmer) and Clare (Julie Ann Emery) have coffee with their new neighbors. The neighbors, Robert (Liev Schreiber) and Samantha (Naomi Watts) have a teenage son, Kevin (Jeremy Allen White), whom they have home-schooled. Sean and Clare begin inquiring about the homeschooling, and the numerous manners in which Robert and Samantha have replicated a high school environment within their home, going as far as hazing, bullying, and giving out detentions, are revealed. They also throw high school parties and Samantha instigates Kevin’s “first kiss” with him. Visibly disturbed, the neighbors end up meeting Kevin, who says he is going out and gives them the impression that all is fine: until he reveals a doll made of a mop with Samantha’s face on it, referring to the doll as his girlfriend.

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The Proposition

Julie (Anna Faris) and Doug (Chris Pratt) have been in a relationship for a year. When he attempts to propose to her, she reveals to him that she is a coprophiliac, and asks him to defecate on her in the bedroom. Urged by his best friend Larry (J.B. Smoove) and others to go along with it, he eats a large meal and drinks a bottle of laxative prior to the event. Wanting foreplay, Julie is angered when Doug wants to finish, and she runs into the street. Chasing after her, he is then hit by a car and graphically evacuates his bowels everywhere. She cradles him and apologizes; covered and surrounded by his excrement on the road, she exclaims that it is the “most beautiful thing” she has ever seen and accepts his marriage proposal.

Veronica

Neil (Kieran Culkin) is working a night shift at a local grocery store. His ex-girlfriend, Veronica (Emma Stone), comes through his line and the two begin arguing, which soon turns into sexual discussion and flirtation as they lament over their relationship; unbeknownst to them, Neil’s intercom microphone broadcasts the entire explicit conversation throughout the store, where various elderly people and vagrants tune in. After she leaves in tears, the customers agree to cover his shift while he goes after her.

iBabe

A developing company is having a meeting in their headquarters over their newly released product, the “iBabe”, which is a life-sized, realistic replica of a nude woman which functions as an MP3 player. The boss (Richard Gere) listens to his various workers (Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi and Jack McBrayer) argue over the placement of a fan that was built into the genital region of the iBabe, which is dismembering the penises of teenage boys who attempt to have sex with them. The board members then agree to strongly emphasize the dangers of the product via its new commercials.

Superhero Speed Dating

Robin (Justin Long) and his cohort Batman (Jason Sudeikis) are in Gotham City at a speed dating establishment seeking out a bomb threat by their nemesis, Penguin (John Hodgman). While Robin attempts to connect with various women through speed dating including Lois Lane (Uma Thurman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell), Batman encounters his ex Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb) and attempts to stop Penguin from detonating Supergirl, who later turns out to be the Riddler (Will Carlough) in disguise, which Batman already knew and was screwing with Robin, who kissed “her” moments before unveiling.

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Machine Kids

A faux-Public service announcement about children stuck in machines and how adults’ criticism of these particular machines affect the feelings of the children stuck inside the machines. This commercial was paid for by the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Inside Machines”.

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Middleschool Date

Nathan (Jimmy Bennett) and Amanda (Chloë Grace Moretz) are watching television after school at Nathan’s house as their first “middle school” date. When they begin to kiss, his older brother Mikey (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) enters the living room and makes fun of them. Amanda then discovers she is menstruating and tries to hide it, and when Nathan sees blood on her pants, he panics and believes her to be bleeding to death, causing a debacle, which would later have Nathan and Mikey’s father Steve (Patrick Warburton) and Amanda’s father (Matt Walsh) involved. Amanda calls them out on their stupidity and feels embarrassed to know that she’s getting her first period in front of them and they don’t know what to do about it. When she leaves with her father, Nathan yells that the process of keeping the lining of her internal organs intact by inserting his erect phallus into her vagina is much too complicated and Mikey agrees. Steve cheers them up by farting in front of them. As Mikey goes to the bathroom, Nathan and Steve watch a game on television, which has a very graphic Tampax commercial in which a girl gets eaten by a shark due to her menstruating.

Tampax

Another faux-commercial involving two women who go swimming in the sea. As the women submerge into the water, a great shark suddenly appears and eats one of the women. A tagline appears, reading: “Tampax. Now Leak-Proof”

Happy Birthday

Pete (Johnny Knoxville) captures a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for his roommate Brian (Seann William Scott) as a birthday present. After tying the leprechaun up in the basement, they demand he give them a pot of gold. The obscene leprechaun threatens that his brother is coming to save him. When he arrives, Brian and Pete are shot at but ultimately kill both leprechauns. At the end of the segment, Pete reveals he has also caught a fairy (Esti Ginzburg) who performs fellatio for gold coins.

Truth or Dare

Donald (Stephen Merchant) and Emily (Halle Berry) are on a date together at a Mexican restaurant. Tired of typical first dates, Emily challenges Donald to a game of truth or dare. She dares him to grab a man’s buttocks, and he follows with daring her to blow out the birthday candles on a blind boy’s cake. The game rapidly escalates to extremes, in which both of them get plastic surgery and tattoos, and humiliate themselves. When Donald and Emily arrive back at Emily’s apartment, they praise their date. Donald tries to kiss her, but she rejects him, claiming she’s not attracted to Asian men (which he was surgically altered to resemble). It is revealed that she was joking and invites him to have sex with her as she shows him her enlarged breasts.

Victory’s Glory

Set in 1959, Coach Jackson (Terrence Howard) is lecturing his all-black basketball team before their first game against an all-white team. Worried about losing the game, the timid players are lectured by the coach about their superiority in the sport over their white counterparts, which he expresses vulgarly. When the game ensues, the all-white team loses miserably yet rejoices in a single point they earn.

Beezel

Played mid-credits, Amy (Elizabeth Banks) worries that her boyfriend Anson’s (Josh Duhamel) cat, Beezel (an animated cartoon), is coming between their relationship. Beezel seems to detest Amy and anyone who comes between him and Anson, but Anson only sees Beezel as innocent. One day, Amy witnesses Beezel masturbating to summer vacation photos of Anson in a swimsuit. Beezel attacks her and violently urinates on her. Anson still finds his pet innocent but Amy threatens to leave if he doesn’t get rid of Beezel. Caring more about his relationship, Anson agrees to find a new home for him. That night, from a closet, Beezel tearfully watches the couple make love (whilst sodomizing himself with a hairbrush and dry humping a stuffed teddy bear). The next day when it comes time to take Beezel away, he is nowhere to be found. Amy goes outside to look. Beezel then runs her over with a truck and attempts to shoot her to death with a shotgun, but she chases him into the street and begins beating him with a shovel, which is witnessed by a group of children attending a birthday party at a neighboring house. When Anson approaches to see what is happening, Amy tries to explain Beezel’s motives. Beezel acts innocent and Anson sides with his cat. The children of the party then attack and murder Amy for beating up Beezel, stabbing her with plastic forks. Anson grabs Beezel, as Beezel again fantasizes about French kissing his owner.

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Find Our Daughter

In this segment that was cut from the film, Maude (Julianne Moore) and George (Tony Shalhoub) are looking for their breast-flashing daughter Susie (Jordanna Taylor) with the help of the private eye (Bob Odenkirk), who is behind the camera with only one clue which is a small video that features their daughter. The scene was released on Blu-ray.

Necrophiliac

This segment cut from the film stars a necrophiliac who worked at a morgue and had sex with the dead female bodies. The scene was included on the Blu-Ray release.

This film gets a lot of negative reviews, and I can see why – it’s definitely a marmite type ‘love it or hate it’ film. I doubt there’s any room for a grey area. Slapstick, crude toilet humour delivered in a very clever fashion. This isn’t so much a film as it is a series of interlinked sketches with an all-star cast

 

 

REVIEW: THE BUTLER

CAST

Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Oprah Winfrey (Before Women Had Wings)
David Oyelowo (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Elijah Kelley (Take The Lead)
Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four)
David Banner (Black Snake Moan)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Adriane Lenox (The Blind Side)
Yaya DaCosta (Ugly Betty)
Vanessa Redgrave (Mission: Impossible)
Clarence Williams III (Puprple Rain)
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Jerry Maguire)
Lenny Kravitz (The Hunger Games)
Colman Domingo (Freedomland)
Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones)
James Marsden (Westworld
Minka Kelly (The Roommate)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Alan Rickman (Dogma)
John Cusack (Identity)
Jane Fonda (Barbarella)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Danny Strong (Buffy)
Jesse Williams  (The Cabin In The Woods)
Nelsan Ellis (True Blood)

In 2009, an elderly Cecil Gaines recounts his life story, while waiting at the White House to meet the newly inaugurated president. In 1926, at the age of seven, Gaines is raised on a cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia, by his sharecropping parents. One day, the farm’s owner, Thomas Westfall, rapes Cecil’s mother, Hattie Pearl. Cecil’s father confronts Westfall, and is shot dead. Cecil is taken in by Annabeth Westfall, the estate’s caretaker and owner’s grandmother, who trains Cecil as a house servant.In 1937, at age eighteen, he leaves the plantation and his mother, who has been mute since the incident and presumably dies of old age by the time the plantation shuts down. In desperation from hunger, Cecil breaks into a hotel pastry shop, elects sympathy in the elderly master servant, Maynard, asks for a job and is, unexpectedly, hired. He learns advanced serving and mostly interpersonal skills from Maynard, who, after several years, recommends Cecil for a position in a Washington, D.C. hotel. While working at the D.C. hotel, Cecil meets and marries Gloria, and the couple has two sons: Louis and Charlie. In 1957, Cecil is hired by the White House during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration. White House maître d’hôtel Freddie Fallows shows Cecil around, introducing him to head butler Carter Wilson and co-worker James Holloway. At the White House, Cecil witnesses Eisenhower’s reluctance to use troops to enforce school desegregation in the South, then his resolve to uphold the law by racially integrating Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.The Gaines family celebrates Cecil’s new occupation with their neighbors, Howard and Gina. Louis, the elder son, becomes a first generation university student at Fisk University in Tennessee, although Cecil feels that the South is too volatile; he wanted Louis to enroll at Howard University instead. Louis joins a student program led by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) activist James Lawson, which leads to a nonviolent sit-in at a segregated diner, where he is arrested. Furious, Cecil confronts Louis for disobeying him. Gloria, who feels that Cecil puts his job ahead of her, descends into alcoholism and an affair with the Gaines’s neighbor, Howard.In 1961, after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Louis and a dozen others are attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan while on a freedom ride to Birmingham, Alabama. Louis is shown participating in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, where dogs and water cannons were used to stop the marchers, one of the movement’s actions which inspired Kennedy to deliver a national address proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several months after the speech, Kennedy is assassinated. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, enacts the transformative legislation into law. As a goodwill gesture, Jackie Kennedy gives Cecil one of the former president’s neckties before she leaves the White House.Louis is later shown participating in the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement, which inspired Johnson to demand that Congress enact the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Johnson also gives Cecil a tie bar. In the late 1960s, after civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Louis visits and tells his family that he has joined the Black Panthers. Outraged, Cecil orders Louis and his girlfriend, Carol, to leave his house. Louis is soon arrested, and Carter bails him out. Cecil becomes aware of President Richard Nixon’s plans to suppress the movement.The Gaines’ other son, Charlie, confides to Louis that he plans to join the Army in the war in Vietnam. Louis announces that he won’t attend Charlie’s funeral if he is killed there because while Louis sees Americans as multiple races, Charlie sees the country as one race. A few months later, Charlie is killed and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Louis does not attend. However, when the Black Panthers resort to violence in response to racial confrontations, Louis leaves the organization and returns to college, earning his master’s degree in political science and eventually running for a seat in Congress.Cecil repeatedly confronts his supervisor at the White House over the unequal pay and career advancement provided to the black White House staff. With President Ronald Reagan’s eventual support, Cecil prevails and his professional reputation grows to the point that he and his wife are invited by President and Nancy Reagan to be guests at a state dinner. At the dinner and afterwards, Cecil becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the class divisions in the White House. Finally, after witnessing Reagan’s refusal to support economic sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, Cecil resigns. Cecil and Gloria visit the defunct, abandoned Georgia plantation where he was raised. Gloria agitates for Cecil to mend his relationship with Louis. Realizing his son’s actions are heroic, Cecil joins Louis at a Free South Africa Movement protest against South African apartheid, and they are arrested and jailed together.In 2008, Gloria dies shortly before Barack Obama is elected as the nation’s first African-American president, a milestone which leaves Cecil and Louis in awe. Two months, two weeks and one day later, Cecil prepares to meet the newly inaugurated President at the White House, wearing the articles he had received from presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Stephen W. Rochon approaches Cecil and tells him the president is ready and prepares to show him the way to the Oval Office. Cecil tells him that he knows the way, and, as he walks down the hallway, the voices of presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson are heard, then President Barack Obama’s famous “Yes we can” quote is heard as Cecil walks through the doors of the Oval Office.Some superb performances here noteably from Forrest Whittaker giving one of his best performances as The Butler himself and Operah Winfrey giving her best performance ever as his loyal wife with excellent support from Terrance Howard and John Cusack, Robin Williams, James Marsden and Alan Rickman give good cameo appearances as presidents Nixon, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan respectively with Jane Fonda also appearing as Nancy Reagan. Yes it gets very sentimental but this is ultimately a powerful piece of filmmaking from Lee Daniels the director of Precious.

 

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 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: ST. VINCENT

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
Bill Murray (Zombieland)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)
Chris O’ Dowd (This Is 40)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)

Vincent MacKenna is a retired grumpy alcoholic Vietnam War veteran, living in Sheepshead Bay who smokes and gambles regularly. His wife, Sandy, developed Alzheimer’s years ago and can no longer recognize him, but he poses as a doctor to visit her and does her laundry. Vincent’s only close friends are a pregnant Russian sex worker named Daka and his cat, Felix. Despite his aggressive attitude toward strangers, Vincent has acquaintances who admire and care about him.
Vincent’s 30-year-old Chrysler LeBaron gets damaged by a tree branch felled by his new neighbors’ moving van. Maggie Bronstein, a radiology tech divorcee, and her son Oliver meet Vincent, who demands payment for the damage. Maggie does the best to provide for Oliver, who is ostracized and bullied at his Catholic school, but is a knowledgeable, friendly boy, welcomed warmly by his new teacher. On his first day at his school, Oliver’s phone, wallet and house keys are stolen by his classmate Robert. Oliver asks Vincent if he can stay at his home until his mother comes home from work. Vincent offers to continue babysitting for a fee.
Vincent picks up Oliver daily after school because Maggie often has late shifts. Vincent’s ideas of after-school activities involve visits to racetracks and bars. The mismatched pair begin to help each other mature, though Maggie is at first horrified by Vincent’s behavior. Vincent teaches Oliver how to defend himself, resulting in Oliver breaking Robert’s nose, who later apologizes and gives back what he stole. Oliver befriends Robert. Vincent and Oliver win a high odds bet on the horses, enabling Vincent to pay off some of his debts. But he gambles away the rest, hoping to make more to keep Sandy in her nursing home.
Vincent is confronted in his home by loan sharks Zucko and Antwan who attempt to take Sandy’s jewelry. Vincent suffers a stroke and Zucko and Antwan leave him on the floor. Vincent is hospitalized and has physical therapy. Oliver, Maggie and Daka help Vincent recover. Oliver’s father, a lawyer, finds out about Vincent and uses the information to get joint custody, with Maggie telling Vincent that he can no longer see Oliver. Vincent becomes depressed after finding out Sandy died while hospitalized. Oliver nominates Vincent, for his “Saints Among Us” school project and asks around the neighborhood about Vincent’s past. Oliver publicly declares Vincent his saint in front of the school’s assembly, who happily reconciles with Oliver. Some time later, Daka gives birth to a child, and she along with Maggie, Oliver and Robert go to Vincent’s house, where they eat and happily talk.St. Vincent is a sweet, lovable film that grows on you with each passing laugh.

 

REVIEW: IRON MAN (2008)

 

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Terrence Howard (The Brave One)
Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion)
Leslie Bibb (The Skulls)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark0
Faran Tahir (Supergirl TV)
Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Tim Guinee (Blade)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Samuel L. Jackson (XXX)

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) isn’t just an industrialist or one of the most brilliant minds on the planet: he’s practically a rock star. C’mon, when was the last time you saw a billionaire weapons manufacturer on the cover of “Rolling Stone”? Following in his late father’s footsteps and mentored by Stark Industries CEO Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Tony keeps the world safe for democracy — and rakes in eight figure paychecks and a parade of “Maxim” cover girls in the process — by engineering the most efficiently destructive arsenal that the U.S. military has ever had at its fingertips.

During a trip to Afghanistan to show off the latest and greatest missile technology that Stark Industries has on the table, Tony’s convoy is attacked by an underground group of soldiers using his own weapons against him. Despite being on the brink of death from the shrapnel embedded deep in his heart and kept alive only by a jury-rigged electromagnet in his chest, Tony is ordered by his captors to recreate the Jericho missile. Tony’s brilliant mind immediately starts spinning — not to build a missile but to create a suit of armor that’ll carve through the waves of heavily-armed thugs and get him and his newfound friend Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub) far out of harm’s way. Fueled by months of bottled-up rage and the miniature arc reactor that keeps the shards of shrapnel from skewering his heart, Tony does manage to escape in his armor, and the devastation he’s seen his own weapons wrought makes him vow to leave that life of arms manufacturing behind.

Stane nods his head when Tony drops that bombshell in a press conference, asking the weaponeering wunderkind to lay low for a few months while he smooths things over with the company’s board of directors. Tony uses that time to rebuild and refine his armor technology, assembling a more efficient arc reactor and learning to fly with boot-jets and flight stabilizing gauntlets. He’s not setting out to build a weapon, but when Tony learns that his company’s hardware is being sold under the table to butcher untold thousands of innocent people, he slips on his newly-crafted armor to destroy every last trace of that arsenal. This attracts the unwanted attention of the U.S. military — including Tony’s old friend Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) — as well as what’s left of his captors in Afghanistan, who start piecing back together the scraps of the ramshackle suit that Tony used to escape.

Robert Downey Jr. is the most inspired casting choice for a superhero flick since Christopher Reeve back in the Superman days. Even before the camera pans over to Downey’s face for the first time — when all we see is a hand holding a glass of scotch, with chunks of ice clinking around as a Humvee bounds up and down a barren stretch of Afghan desert — he is Tony Stark. The smirking charm, that swaggering confidence, a brilliance that he tends to keep restrained until he’s off by himself…Downey’s so perfect in Iron Man that it’s hard to believe the script wasn’t written with him expressly in mind. One of the hallmarks of a truly great superhero story is if it’s still compelling when the character isn’t in the suit, and that’s certainly the case here.


Still building it for most of the movie — but some of Iron Man’s best moments are when he’s working out the kinks in the hardware. Tony’s inventiveness and half-bungled experiments in refining the tech in the Mark I armor score some pretty enormous laughs while also bringing out that wide-eyed sense of wonder I had reading comics growing up. As for the supporting cast, Gwyneth Paltrow — looking more drop-dead gorgeous than she ever has on-screen — captures the dogged loyalty of Tony’s right-hand, Pepper Potts, while infusing her with a charming sort of awkward energy.

Iron Man is and always will be one of my all time favorite movies.