REVIEW: KILL THE IRISHMAN

CAST

Ray Stevenson (Punisher Warzone)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Vinnie Jones (Arrow)
Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Linda Cardellini (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Tony Dartrow (The Sopranos)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Fionnula Flanagan (Yes man)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)
Laura Ramsey (The Covenant)
Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas)
Mike Starr (Radio Days)

In 1960, Danny Greene and his childhood friends Billy McComber and Art Sneperger are longshoremen at the Cleveland docks. Meanwhile, the members are exploited by corrupt union boss, Jerry Merke and the leadership of the ILA union urges Greene to run against him. Meanwhile, Sneperger can’t pay a gambling debt to Cleveland Mafia Capo John Nardi. In return for Sneperger’s debt being forgiven, Greene supplies Nardi’s crew with goods stolen from the docks. Merke finds out, demands a cut of Greene’s profits, and then sends an enforcer to kill him. Instead, Greene beats up the enforcer, then beats up Merke, throws the union leader out of his office, and is later elected union president. He improves the working conditions at the docks while continuing his dealings with Nardi.Greene’s corruption is exposed by the Plain Dealer newspaper and Cleveland Police Detective Joe Manditski, who grew up with Greene in Collinwood, arrests him. Bankrupt and facing prison, Greene plea bargains to lesser charges in return for becoming an FBI informant and being banned for life from organized labor. Greene is released and moves his unhappy wife and daughters back to Collinwood. Nardi gets him work as an enforcer for Hungarian Jewish loan shark Shondor Birns, and later helps pitch a deal to Mafia Capo Jack Licavoli: Greene will force the city’s garbage haulers to join the union Licavoli controls. Greene, McComber, Sneperger, and ex-Hells Angel Keith Ritson terrorize many into joining, but Greene’s friend Mike Frato refuses. Licavoli orders Greene to kill Frato, but Greene balks because Frato has ten children. Nardi tells him privately, though, that, “You wanted to play in the big leagues. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t wanna do.”As Greene prepare’s to kill Frato with a car bomb, he learns from the FBI that Sneperger has returned to gambling, and has become an informant for Manditsky. That night, Greene assigns Sneperger to set the bomb under Frato’s car and presses the detonator as he does it. An enraged Frato later shoots at Greene in a park. Greene returns fire, kills Frato, and is arrested for murder, but released after Frato’s driver tells Manditski that Greene acted in self-defense. Having had enough, Greene’s long suffering wife leaves him and takes the children. Greene sees his elderly Irish neighbor, Grace O’Keefe, being evicted. He intervenes, pays her rent, and she gratefully gives him her father’s gold Celtic cross to wear for protection. Greene begins to use his money and connections to help other Irish-Americans in need, and earns the nickname “The Robin Hood of Collinwood”.Greene wants to open his own restaurant, and asks Shondor Birns to help him. Birns arranges a $70,000 loan from the Gambinos, but Birns’ courier buys cocaine with the money and gets arrested. Birns and Greene argue over which of them should pay back the money; when Greene refuses to pay, Birns hires a hitman to kill him. Greene narrowly escapes, and later kills Birns with a car bomb. After Mafia boss John Scalish dies, both Nardi and Licavoli are considered for succession. Licavoli is chosen due to his closer ties to the Five Families and decides to charge Greene 30% “street tax” for doing business in Cleveland. Greene refuses to pay, crudely mocks Licavoli’s Italian heritage, and vows, “The Irishman’s in business for himself now.” An outraged Licavoli has Greene’s house blown up, but he survives. He then attempts to demote Nardi and take away his crew, only to have the latter join forces with Greene. Vowing to take over Cleveland together, Greene and Nardi start by organizing the murders of Licavoli’s associates, many of whom are blown up. Thirty-six car bombings occur during the summer of 1976, drawing national attention and humiliating Licavoli. After failing multiple times to kill Greene, Licavoli is forced to humbly ask Genovese boss Anthony Salerno to help him kill Nardi and Greene.Having learned of this from the FBI, Greene claims that he wants to leave Cleveland and buy a ranch in Texas, but needs to raise $2 million. Wishing to size up their enemies, Greene and Nardi travel to New York and invite Salerno to invest in the ranch. After they leave, Salerno orders his associates to hire professional hitman Ray Ferritto to kill them both. Nardi is killed in a car explosion, McComber dies in a bombing at the Cleveland docks, and Ritson is shot near his house. Detective Manditski lets Greene know that a master killer is after him. He offers Greene protection, but is told, “My enemies will be taken care of.” After a dentist’s appointment on October 6, 1977, Greene notices Ferritto driving by slowly, and accepts that he is about to die, giving his gold cross to an admiring boy. Ferritto detonates a bomb on the car next to Greene’s, killing Greene instantly. An epilogue, by Manditski, reveals that the investigation of Danny Greene’s murder led to the collapse of the Mafia, not only in Cleveland, but all over the United States.I’m not a big fan of biopics or mobster films like this.  With that said the film is more fascinating and entertaining than most others of it’s type. The actors are all good and well cast, especially Stevenson. He’s always been a cool action bad ass in films before but here he’s really given a chance to show off his acting abilities and range. His performance combined with Hensleigh’s better than average directing make the film one definitely worth checking out. Probably especially if you’re a fan of the genre.

 

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REVIEW: HITCHCOCK (2012)

 

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Helen Mirren (Red)
Scarlett Johansson (Ghost In The Shell)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Lincoln)
Michael Wincott (Romeo Is Bleeding)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
Richard Portnow (Kindergarten Cop)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Ralph Macchio (Ugly Betty)
Wallace Langham (CSI)
Currie Graham (Stargate: The Ark of Truth)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Lindsey Ginter (Argo)

In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock opens his latest film, North by Northwest, to considerable success, but is troubled by a reporter’s insinuation that he should retire. Seeking to reclaim the artistic daring of his youth, Hitchcock turns down film proposals, including Casino Royale and The Diary of Anne Frank, in favor of a horror novel called Psycho by Robert Bloch, based on the real-life crimes of murderer Ed Gein. Gein appears in sequences throughout the film, in which he seems to prompt Hitchcock’s imagination regarding the Psycho story, or act as some function of Hitchcock’s subconscious mind (for instance, drawing Hitchcock’s attention to sand on his bathroom floor, the quantity of which reveals how much time his wife Alma has been spending at the beachhouse with Whitfield Cook).Hitchcock’s wife and artistic collaborator, Alma, is no more enthusiastic about the idea than his colleagues, especially since she is being lobbied by their writer friend, Whitfield Cook, to look at his own screenplay. However, she warms to Hitchcock’s proposal, suggesting the innovative plot turn of killing the female lead early in the film. The studio heads at Paramount prove more difficult to persuade, forcing Hitchcock to finance the film personally and use his Alfred Hitchcock Presents television crew (over at competitor Revue/Universal) to produce the film, his last with Paramount.However, the pressures of the production, such as dealing with Geoffrey Shurlock of the Motion Picture Production Code, and Hitchcock’s lecherous habits, such as when they confer with the female lead, Janet Leigh, annoy Alma. She begins a personal writing collaboration with Whitfield Cook on his screenplay at his beach house without Hitchcock’s knowledge. Hitchcock eventually discovers what she has been doing and suspects her of having an affair. This concern affects Hitchcock’s work on Psycho. Hitchcock eventually confronts Alma and asks her if she is having an affair. Alma angrily denies it. Alma temporarily takes over production of the film when Hitchcock is bedridden after collapsing from overwork, but this sequence, which included a complicated process shot showing Arbogast’s demise, with Alma’s specification of a 35mm lens, instead of the 50mm lens preferred by Hitchcock for this film, proved to be the least effective in the film.Meanwhile, Hitchcock expresses his disappointment to Vera Miles at how she didn’t follow through on his plan to make her the next biggest star after Grace Kelly; but Miles says she is happy with her family life. Hitchcock’s cut of Psycho is poorly received by the studio executives, while Alma discovers Whitfield having sex with a younger woman at his beach house. Hitchcock and Alma reconcile and set to work on improving the film. Their renewed collaboration yields results, culminating in Alma convincing Hitchcock to accept their composer’s suggestion for adding Bernard Herrmann’s harsh strings score to the shower scene.After maneuvering Shurlock into leaving the film’s content largely intact, Hitchcock learns the studio is only going to exhibit the film in two theaters. Hitchcock arranges for special theater instructions to pique the public’s interest such as forbidding admittance after the film begins. At the film’s premiere, Hitchcock first views the audience from the projection booth, looking out through its small window at the audience (a scene which recalls his spying on his leading actresses undressing earlier in the film–by looking through a hole cut in the dressing room wall–which itself is a voyeuristic motif included in the film of Psycho). Hitchcock then waits in the lobby for the audience’s reaction, conducting slashing motions to their reactions as they scream on cue. The film is rewarded with an enthusiastic reception. With the film’s screening being so well received, Hitchcock publicly thanks his wife afterward for helping make it possible and they affirm their love. At the conclusion at his home, Hitchcock addresses the audience noting Psycho proved a major high point of his career and he is currently pondering his next project. A raven lands on his shoulder as a reference to The Birds, before turning to meet with his wife.The final title cards say that Hitchcock directed six more films after Psycho, none of which would eclipse its commercial success, and although he never won an Oscar, the American Film Institute awarded him its Life Achievement Award in 1979: an award that he claimed he shared, as he had his life, with his wife, Alma.Overall, honestly, I know Hitchcock isn’t a perfect film. No film is. But, I love the film for it’s dramatic and whimsical aspects, the phenomenal acting, score, screenplay, camera-work, and the way the film was done as a whole. If you love/like Psycho, or just enjoy learning about the man known as The Master of Suspense, give this film a go.

REVIEW: BROTHERHOOD OF JUSTICE

CAST

Keanu Reeves (Exposed)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Lori Loughlin (Fuller House)
Joe Spano (Apollo 13)
Billy Zane (Legends of Tomorrow)
Dannu Nuccci (Titanic)

jXbv2FDbUMflf9fjCFynzd1Wpv3The movie is based on actual events that occurred at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas in 1984. The vigilante group called themselves “The Legion of Doom”.[2] The eponymous “Brotherhood of Justice” begins as a well-intentioned attempt by students to stamp out violence and drugs in their high school, but this “solution” gradually becomes worse than the original problem.maxresdefaultAs the Brotherhood’s targets expand to include all who (for whatever reason) irritate them, its methods escalate to arson and attempted murder. Its original leader (played by Keanu Reeves), seeing what the group has become, turns against his comrades. The movie was filmed in Santa Cruz County, California. Some locations used were Aptos High School in Aptos, California, Downtown Watsonville, California, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and various beaches in the Santa Cruz, California area.justice1Overall an average TV movie – worth a watch if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill, but not worth going out of your way for.

REVIEW: CHASING MAVERICKS

 

CAST

Jonny Weston (John Dies at The end)
Gerard Butler (300)
Elizabeth Shue (Hollow man)
Abigail Spencer (Cowboys and Aliens)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Scott Eastwood (Fury)

In 1987, an 8-year-old boy in Santa Cruz, California, Jay Moriarity, is saved from drowning by his next door neighbor, surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). This ignites his passion for the sport. One morning, Jay (Jonny Weston), now 15, sees Frosty leaving early and hitches a ride on his van. He sees Frosty and three of his friends riding a gigantic swell known as Mavericks, which with El Niño coming in will be at its height in three months’ time. Reluctantly, Frosty agrees to teach Jay how to surf Mavericks, but insists that Jay learn about the “foundation pillars of surfing”. These involve him learning to paddle board 36 miles from Santa Cruz to Monterey Bay, treading water for 40 minutes and being able to hold his breath for four minutes.While training, Frosty encourages Jay to write essays to focus on the task. His first essay is about Kim (Leven Rambin), his crush, whose dog he saved when he was 8, which caused him to nearly drown. Jay gets closer to Kim as he trains, partially encouraged by Frosty’s wife, Brenda (Abigail Spencer). A few weeks before the biggest swell of the season hits Mavericks, Brenda has a stroke and dies. A few days later, distraught from Brenda’s death, Frosty paddles out into the bay. Jay follows him, and using the knowledge from his training, he helps Frosty back to shore. Frosty realizes that Jay is ready to ride Mavericks. Frosty takes Jay to Mavericks at Half Moon Bay and watches with his three friends as Jay treads water against the tide. The group agrees that Jay is ready to ride with them. For Jay’s 16th birthday on June 15, 1994, his mother (Elisabeth Shue) gives him a radio so he can listen to the weather broadcasts and track the swell. Frosty gives him a custom-made “big wave gun” (a long surfboard especially designed for riding big waves). Kim reveals her feelings for him and they share a kiss.Frosty had wanted to keep Mavericks a secret, but Jay’s notebook that he had been using for preparation ends up in the hands of his rival (Taylor Handley). When Jay and Frosty go to Half Moon Bay, there is a large crowd and boats taking surfers out. Many of the newcomers wipe out before getting to surf Mavericks. Jay wipes out at first, but then retrieves his board and successfully rides Mavericks. A title card reveals that he married Kim and died at age 22 while free-diving in the Maldives. The film ends with Frosty, Kim, and an assemblage of others holding a surfers’ memorial service for Jay.I really liked this movie. I know nothing of the surfing world but the story drew you in and you really cared about these people. Gerard Butler was the reason I bought this movie and he didn’t disappoint he was really believable in the role as Jay’s mentor.

REVIEW: BEHIND THE CANDELABRA

CAST

Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Matt Damon (Promsied Land)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Rob Lowe (Austin Powers)
Debbie Reynolds (Halloweentown)
Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Boyd Holbrook (The Host)
Tom Papa (Bee Movie)
Nicky Katt (American Yakuza)
Cheyenne Jackson (United 93)
Paul Reiser (Aliens)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Eddie Jemison (Izombie)
Garrett M. Brown (Kick-Ass)

In 1977, 18-year-old Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), who works as an animal trainer for films, meets Bob Black (Scott Bakula), a Hollywood producer, in a gay bar in Los Angeles. At Black’s urging, he leaves his adopted home in search of better-paying work. Black introduces Thorson to Liberace (Michael Douglas), who takes an immediate liking to the handsome younger man. Liberace invites the two backstage and then to his luxurious home in Las Vegas. Thorson observes that one of Liberace’s beloved dogs is suffering from a temporary form of blindness, and with his veterinary assistant background, informs the famous pianist that he knows how to cure the condition. After treating the dog, Thorson becomes Liberace’s “assistant” at the performer’s request. Thorson also becomes employed as Liberace’s stage chauffeur, driving a Rolls-Royce limousine onto the stage for Liberace’s grand entrances. Thorson moves in with Liberace and becomes his lover. At this point, Thorson says that he is bisexual because he is also attracted to women. Liberace is sympathetic, informing him that he wanted and tried to love women, but was exclusively attracted to men. He relates a story of a “divine healing” in which a “messenger” informed him that God still loved him.It gradually becomes clear that Liberace is trying to mold Thorson into a younger version of himself. He asks his plastic surgeon, Dr. Jack Startz (Rob Lowe), to transform Scott’s face to more closely resemble his own and makes an unsuccessful attempt to formally adopt him. Thorson soon turns to drugs as he becomes more angry and frustrated with Liberace trying to control him as well as Liberace’s obsession to publicly hide their romance at any cost. By 1982, Thorson’s increasing drug abuse and Liberace’s interest in younger men, including dancer Cary James (Boyd Holbrook), creates a rift that ultimately destroys their relationship. When Liberace begins visiting pornographic peep shows and suggests that they each see other people, Thorson becomes upset. Thorson retains an attorney to seek his financial share of the property by suing Liberace for over $100,000,000 in palimony. As a result, Liberace ends their formal partnership and involves himself with his most recent, and much younger, “assistant”. In 1984, Thorson’s palimony lawsuit starts where he gives details about his five-year romance with the entertainer, while Liberace flatly denies any sexual relationship.Not long thereafter, in December 1986, Thorson receives a phone call from Liberace telling him that he is very sick with what is later revealed to be AIDS and that he would like Thorson to visit him again. Thorson agrees and drives to Liberace’s retreat house in Palm Springs, where he and Liberace have one last, emotional conversation. Liberace dies a few months later in February 1987. Thorson attends Liberace’s funeral, in which he imagines seeing Liberace performing one last time with his traditional flamboyance, before being lifted to Heaven with a stage harness.Normally in biography films, they are not always the best in regards to actually getting to show the facts right of the person/s life. However this film just blew me away! It’s an interesting film about last ten years of Liberaces life.

 

REVIEW: FORGOTTEN SINS

CAST

John Shea (Mutant X)
William Devane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Bess Armstrong (Jaws 3-D)
Lisa Dean Ryan (Tiger Cruise)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Gary Grubbs (Angel)
John M. Jackson (Bones)

A county sheriff is accused by his daughter of having abused her. Her accusation gets more and more elaborate, involving satanic rituals. As nearly everyone around him seems to believe he’s guilty, he starts breaking up and questioning his own innocence. captive004The fact that children may be induced to retrieve false memories is controversial, but if one researches the statistics, more common than the general public would like to believe. Also, religion is certainly a factor, as many people may confide in their pastor or priest. False memory syndrome has also been manifested in several MPD (multiple, or dissociative identity disorder cases). While certainly the diagnosis is valid in some cases, it is rare, and many people have used it to their advantage (see Kenneth Bianchi “Hillside Stranglers”). If you are interested in this subject you may also want to watch the “McMartin Trial” with James S. Woods, as well as the movie “Capturing the Friedmans”; a provocative documentary of what actually occurred on Long Island, NY circa 1988, when a computer science teacher was indicted for sexual abuse of his students. Both stories have many diverse viewpoints, and are quite disturbing.

REVIEW: SEEDS OF DECEPTION (AKA The Babymaker: The Dr. Cecil Jacobson Story)

CAST

Melissa Gilbert (Little House on The Prairie)
Shanna Reed (The Night Caller)
George Dzundza (Superman: TAS)
Tom Verica (Zodiac)
Tim Progosh (Net Worth)

500px-The_Lost_World_revolver_1_1The film starts in 1985. Cecil Jacobson is a successful doctor, running his own reproductive genetic center. He is earning the respect of other doctors and is even nicknamed ‘The Babymaker’. Nobody knows that he secretly uses his own sperm to impregnate his patients. One of his patients is Mary Bennett, a woman desperate to have a baby. She is unable to become a mother, however, because her husband Greg underwent a vasectomy. She is directed there by her friend Nita, who also had artificial insemination. Greg isn’t enthusiastic about the idea, but Mary convinces him to talk to Dr. Jacobson, explaining it might be their only chance. Greg has trouble accepting that the insemination requires an anonymous donor and admits he isn’t ready to be a father.bhrNPMMb851EJd7R3eKs8iaZBcsMary’s mother instincts make her decide to still have the insemination and, yet again, Dr. Jacobson uses his own sperm samples. Meanwhile, Mary’s friend Sue thinks she is thirteen weeks pregnant, when she suddenly bleeds. She contacts Dr. Jacobson, but he assures her there is nothing wrong and he even shows her the shape of the baby on the ultrasound. Sue, still thinking that there is something wrong, contacts a second doctor, who reveals that she is not pregnant and that the so-called shape of the baby is actually fecal matter. She discovers that there are several cases of people who have received a false-positive pregnancy test at Dr. Jacobson’s facility. She wants to confront him, but her husband pressures her to pretend as if nothing has happened, to see how far Dr. Jacobson will go with the lies. She does inform Mary, however, but she is reluctant to believe her, because she has just had her pregnancy confirmed. Sue and Bill later confront Dr. Jacobson, and he blames the false results on the equipment. However, he does insist that there is fetal matter in her body, which means that she was indeed pregnant. Sue warns Mary about the doctor, but she refuses to believe her and they are soon estranged. It turns out that Mary was indeed pregnant, and she eventually gives birth to a boy. Five years later, Dr. Jacobson is charged with making people believe that they are pregnant. Mary thinks that they are false charges and blames it on Sue and Bill. A trial ensues and soon rumours are spread that he used his own sperm for inseminations. Mary is determined to find out if he is the donor and soon starts to notice similarities between her son and the doctor.imagesWMJ4VFV1Greg advises her to leave it behind her, explaining that he doesn’t want their son, Jesse, to get involved with the trial. The hatred Mary feels for Dr. Jacobson starts to grow, but Greg forbids her to testify against him. She doesn’t listen to him, however, and with the help of Sue, she goes to court in disguise. After giving an emotional testimony, Dr. Jacobson admits to the charges, but insists he did it for health reasons. He is eventually found guilty on all charges. In the end, Mary and Greg make up and Sue announces that she is pregnant. In the after-titles, it is announced that Dr. Jacobson was sentenced to jail for five years after being found guilty on 46 counts of fraud and 6 of perjury and was recently freed on bail pending appeal, and that Sue gave birth to a healthy boy.the lost world 98_2

I Enjoyed this film. There are always people who try to make money off of poor innocent people and who abuse their professional positions. Good Film for people interested in true crime.