Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pro-Wrestlers Versus Zombies

If you are a fan of pro wrestling, you might like this film. The intent of this film appears to be to place pro wresters into a storyline where they must use wrestling and fighting moves against opponents who are zombies. The fight is not one-sided as wrestlers do die. There is a lot of blood and gore that verges more on the silly. There is very little suspense as this is mostly excuses to present lots of fighting action.

There is a semblance of a plot regarding revenge from a wrestling match death. The characters are not well defined. There are few character arcs as there barely any characters. There is little dialogue and what dialogue that exists is simplistic and surprisingly often repetitious and unnecessary. The movie appears to serve a basis to show wrestling stunts, biting zombies, and bleeding victims.

Among the positive aspects are that Roddy Pipper can act. He develops a character that can draw audience support. Carmera Bartolotta shows promise that might serve well in a political setting. This is a film that may be enjoyed by pro-wrestling fans or fans of extremely bloody, although obviously fake, violence.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chopping Mall

“Chopping Mall” is a standard movie designed for teenage date nights to scare partners into each other’s arms. It is a simple plot: robots designed for mall security turn into hard-to-destruct killer robots. Their main targets are teenager mall employees partying after hours. There is a little blood and not much gore. Frights come from running from danger, spiders, and snakes. It is designed for teens and not for audiences that prefer “gross out” horror. Teenagers will identify with the teenagers versus machines theme.

As has been noted in similar films, teens in such horror movies generally die in order of their promiscuity. A slight difference is a female, loving but generally chaste, leading character has a significant role in fighting the robots. This is a film for a specific audience. Those who like teenage horror films that are frightening yet not too disturbing, this is a film for fans of that genre.

American Hustle

“American Hustle” is the total package, a superb script with terrific acting and presumably very skilled direction. This script creates characters that grab our interest and through the story and the mannerisms of the actors, we see the directions the characters and stories are heading. This is a highly visual movie as one wishes to study the expressions of the characters and listen closely to their dialogue to determine when something said is the truth or when it is a con.

Some people did not like the film as they found it hard to follow. It does require some attention but it is not overly complex. Of course, the mystery as to who is being conned and how is exactly the point of the movie. It ends well with an amazing con. The person conned has been shown previously in a negative light so viewers have little sympathy for the conned. One can feel sympathy that is well developed for one of the victims. Some may quarrel over the morality of the con, and some may argue that the con needed some luck as in real life it might not have worked, yet that is the edginess of the movie which draws our attention.

Monday, March 24, 2014

G.I. Joe - Retaliation

Fans of military action movies should love this. Although, this is more over the top fiction, with masked heroes and villains and am antagonist who can change his facial structure. It is not realistic military battles. There are lots of fights, explosions, the destruction of a major city, and a unique but totally unrealistic (which makes it intriguing) mountainside battle.

The plot is something more fitting comic books than real war movies. Some viewers have their preferences. What was confusing to me, as one who was not familiar with previous background on the characters and their pasts, was new characters would emerge with little indication what their role is to the plot or even whether they are on the side of the protagonist or the antagonist. In time, one could figure it out, yet the introductions of some characters could have been handled more clearly,

So those who wish to sit back and see action, guns firing, martial arts, and military battles, this is a well done movie for this genre.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life

This is a wonderful satiric film aimed at lambasting both Franz Kafka and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While the action plods along with eccentric characters moving towards uncertain and confusing directions, all ties in well at the end with a nice arc. This may not be one of the most popular Christmas specials that will be watched year after year, it definitely is one worth a view and a revisit when one wishes Yuletide satire as well as Christmas joy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hunger Games - Catching Fire

This is an excellent production yet it is deliberately flawed, which may anger some viewers. First, it is highly recommended that one see the previous “Hunger Games” movie. There are key references made throughout this movie that are necessary to understand what occurs in this movie that one learned from the first movie. These observations are not always obvious to anyone who has not seen the prior movie.

This movie does not conclude with a story ending. It concludes by letting the viewer know that the story continues into a future movie. Thus, the viewer may feel disappointed and cheated into not learning how several storylines end when the movie concludes.

The production value is great. If one has seen and loved the prior “Hunger Games”, one will most likely enjoy seeing a progression of new adventures with these characters. The concept of a game where people hunt to kill each other is abhorrent and at least this movie, while showing such games, presents this as wrong. There has to be some suspension of belief to accept that this is a society where the continuation or possible collapse of a totalitarian government depends upon these human hunting games. It is also not fully explained how these games could be what could spark a revolution. Yet accepting this does allow one to appreciate the intrigues and double actions of characters.

The script is good, The lead character is required to do much soul searching that is interesting to watch. The special effects are excellent. The acting is top notch. The movie, though, leaves audiences wanting more, which is what the studio wants, but does not make for a good overall movie that fails to stand on its own.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Means War

This is a romantic drama with a comedic situation. Two best friends who work together at the CIA compete for the same woman. She is unaware they know each other. The jealous friends use high tech spying techniques to spy on each other’s dates. One has to suspend belief as we hope our intelligence efforts as not so misused. There is a spy drama interspersed yet is mostly peripheral to the main story except to play a role in resolving a key dilemma.

This movie offers a difference from most other romantic comedies in that there is no apparent leading male character among the two to root for. Chelsea Handler presents the comedic moments as the friend and advisor to the lead female portrayed by Reese Witherspoon. When just as all hope appears lost for our three main characters, duty calls and the story moves to happy resolutions that may not have been immediately apparent earlier on. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


“I figured if he got my mom it was only right I got Jesse” are haunting words from the film about a boy who sets off to date the daughter of the married man who dates his mother. What the boy, born without a father, has figured from information in a high school genetics lecture that lets him rule out that the man dating his mother is his birth father. His mother told him his father was a famous race car driver. There are some slight hints the Sheriff might be his father, although they are then surprisingly abandoned, which confuses the film. The Sheriff has been having a decades long affair with the mother

This film works well as it focuses on two complex relationships. In addition, the mother, skillfully portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, is developing schizophrenia, adding further difficulties. She dates a Sheriff running for State Senator, well portrayed by Ed Harris, who is not above throwing his influential weight around town. The dilemmas of the dramas, including a fake pregnancy, steadily increase and keep our interest. A problem with the story is most characters have too many faults to allow us to fully empathize with them.

This movie’s depiction of Mormons tends to stereotype. The characters are all believable. There is a unique twist in the presentation at the beginning and end of the film. This is not an upbeat movie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vixens of Virtue Vixens of Vice

This is a good amateur-ist video with low budget special effects. It is good to see a cast where heroes and villains are all strong female characters. The plot is simple. It would be useful if more background were provided. Why are the three hero sisters fighting with the three evil step sisters? What is the motivation for the adopted sister to want to kill them all? Cosplay fans will love the costumes. This is a nice cartoonish action film of promising filmmakers. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pacific Rim

This is one of the better modern action films. This one capitalizes on fears of giant beings arising from the ocean destroying cities that have been part of many previous movies. The fight is a futuristic one with new weapons. An interesting element is the attackers, aliens from outer space, are able to adapt and fight better.

This movie does a decent job with character development. We understand the strengths and flaws of various weaknesses. It combines both brown and intellectual pursuits in the fight. A criticism is dark fights of dark fighters at night which makes it hard to see what is occurring. There are directors who defend that the darkness contributes a dramatic mood yet I believe it is better to better to see what is going on..

I will suspend belief enough to disregard that a two legged weapon is not practical. I do wonder why, if firing weapons if their most effective tactic, they always wait unti the end of the fight to fire them. Oh, wait, that is so there can be an action movie. So suspend belief and watch away.

This movie brings out characters without being melodramatic. It allows us to figure out things with slight dialogue, which is better than the over-telling method some other movies use, There are interesting back stories impact the story’s direction. This is a thoughtful action movie that is well acted and directed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nurse Jackie: Season Five

This season of “Nurse Jackie” shows great character growth. We watch as the main character fights her way through her first year of sobriety. She is challenged with a 14 year old daughter who is beginning to experiment with drugs. Her faces problems at several directions with disputes with an ex-husband to learning how to handle people from her past as well as new friends. Some new characters are well introduced to the dilemmas including a new doctor learning to adjust his military past into the civilian world, a confused boss, a manipulating new resident., and a new suitor. The series ends with an interesting twist that makes us look forward to learning what directions the main character is headed.

Cattle Bag

This movie likely has a limited audience of college students, mostly male, who find dirty jokes and overacting funny. It is indeed a step above home videos with some lo quality  special effects. It is gross out humor featuring a few male comedic actors. There are some laughs, but the appeal is directed at those who appreciate sophomoric humor. The actors have hints of talent so perhaps someday those who do further films will look back at this film as one of the stepping steps in their career. I am not certain how many will want to admit they appeared in this film, but I think they would look bit and find it a bit of a laugh.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thor: The Dark World

This is a high tech special effects battle movie with a twist of someone from Earth traveling to a different culture in outer space.. It relies heaving on well choreographed fight scenes. It is easy to follow which side is which is this battle of good versus evil. There often is just quick, short background into what the struggles are all about,

I am wondering why, if there are a type of firearms and missiles, does this society do most of its fighting using swords? I believe the key is suspend belief in many facets of this fantasy story. It is always a disadvantage in movies about fictional societies that movies will spring important knowledge about their world to the audience. It may be best to just go with it and follow the excitement.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


“Nebraska” features much scenic beauty of Montana and Nebraska and demonstrates that great filming can be presented in black and white. This is a movie where the towns and its residens explain much of the story. This is a great movie about an adult son learning about his father and his parents’ past while taking a road trip. It is expertly written and acted where we often learn more about people though how little they say than through what they say. It is a movie of memories and stirring up the past. Bruce Dern is excellent as a father who people laugh at and Will Forte is superb as the son trying to understand his father and see if he can bring his famther some redemption.

The dialogue and story move slowly, although that is part of the point. This is a great exploration into people who go though life seldom expressing their feelings. We learn more layers about the characters and what molded them as the story progresses. It has a pleasing arc.

If you believe movies can only be in color with lots of special effects, this is not your movie. If you want to see a movie where you learn about people and want to root for them, you should enjoy this film.



“Austenland” is a quaint move with an interesting premise. A woman searching for herself is enthralled vacating in a place where actors and settings pretend to be straight out of the novels of Jane Austen. The concept alone makes this an intriguing film. Jennifer Coolidge brings a good sharp comedic edge as the “fish out of water” participant who is unfamiliar with Jane Austen novels.

One need not have read a Jane Austen book to be able to follow the movie. One quickly understands the settings and life styles of 18th century British society. The mixing of 21st century people in this past creates comedic relief.

The plot is not compelling. It makes it appear more that the main character needs to move on with her life than she is facing a critical crisis. What is good is the main character, in search of love, has not one but two suitors. As fantasy and reality are well mixed, viewers are often uncertain which suitor is the proper one. This interesting twist creates an interesting dilemma for both the main character and the viewer.

Several of the other characters appear too infrequently such that there is a lack of character depth presented. They serve more as a backdrop and some of their story events emerge and pass a bit quickly. One crisis emerges quickly, is not mentioned, reappears as a major threat, and then is discarded, thus adding little to the story.

This is a light, fun romantic comedy. It may not be overly realistic is demonstrating the lines between fantasy and realism. Yet it should be enjoyable to those wanting to see if a woman obsessed with a different era can find love today.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


“Gravity” is one the most gripping adventures films ever. It creates more tensions viewing it than just about any other movie. It has the main character in constant danger of death and places the characters in a very scary place to be on their own without outside help, namely In outer space,

This movie also makes many viewers sad, and not just from the horrific events of the main storyline. The life story we learn of the lead character Dr. Stone alone is tear producing. The movie also skillfully uses story points that chugs at viewer’s hearts.

The outers pace photography is brilliantly beautiful. It creates more a sense of awe along with heightening the awareness of how alone they are in space. The sceneryi including the space ships is incredible.

A problem with a movie like this which shows real world high technology is that most viewers will not be able to properly assess the actual degrees of risks and possible solutions to dangers. This film, though, does an excellent job in signifying the high degree of difficulties that are being faced such that this knowledge is not essential. Viewers will likely share the fear felt by the characters.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Inequality for All

This is an excellent documentary. It admits it has a viewpoint and does not hide it: That there is economic inequality and that this inequality can be harmful to our economy and our democracy. Yet it is neither preachy nor boring academic although it does fall more on the academic side. What is good about this documentary is it backs its arguments with facts and statistics. People may still wish to argue interpretations of the numbers, but this film makes solid arguments without being preachy nor melodramatic, as some failed documentaries do.

Viewers learn that household wages rose from the 1940s to the late 1970s and then began dropping after that. The wage increases were helped by an increased graduations from higher education that made the U.S. the most educated country which in turn led the U.S. to be the most economically productive nation. There was a similar growth in unions which protected wage growth.

In the late 1970s, the I.R.S. allowed companies to deduct executive pay based on performance. This resulted in an increase in greater compensation to executive with stagnant pay to other employees. In the 1980s, taxes on the wealthiest Americans were reduced to levels seen before the depression. Unions faltered and many wage protections were removed. The financial industry experienced increased growth as law changes permitted increased speculation that brought them wealth yet did little to create new product snd more jobs. By 2008 the disparity in economic wealth was similar to that which existed before the depression of 1929.

Household spending had kept pace even as housing, education, and health care costs continually grew faster than the inflation rates. Households achieved this by the historic entrance of women into the labor force, by people on average working longer hours, and by households taking on increased debt. Consumer debt reached $500 billion by 1929.

As in the depression, there was another economic crash in 2008. The country has seen a revival in stock market prices. Yet nearly all of the increased wealth has gone to the wealthiest people.

Economic growth occurs when the middle class and poor spend money which increases demand for more products which produces more jobs. This creates an upward cycle of growth. Concentrating wealth in a few people who do not spend as much money creates a downwards cycle of economic downfalls.

This creates a threat to our economy, this film argues. The wealthiest Americans are investing more in lobbyists and in campaign contributions to politicians who are keeping tax rates on the wealthy are kept low. A 2010 Supreme Court ruling now allows unlimited amounts of funds to flow to candidates. The lower taxes paid by the wealthy reduces public sector revenues which in turn leads to cuts in spending on public education and higher education. The education levels overall decline which diminishes the productivity of our labor force. This results in lower wages and further lowers public sector revenues and the downward cycle continues.

I found this movie informative. I suspect many will bring their prior biases and political beliefs to when they view this film and their reactions may be in accordance to their prior conceptions. I would urge people to have an open mind when viewing this movie and to think of more questions on these economic issues to which we should seek further answers.

Monday, February 24, 2014


“Haywire” begins in the style of mysteries where the viewers observe characters yet we have limited knowledge as to their motives or identities. Over time, these are revealed to the audience in a manner meant to keep curiosity stimulated. For some, the pacing of the awareness as to who is who and what they are doing may be a bit slow. One knows the main character is in life-threatening danger, yet from whom and why and what their capabilities are, for awhile, kept unknown to viewers.

There are not many facets presented regarding the characters. One sees how they are over a period of a few days. There is some sense of a past between the main character and her father which is positive yet even that is quickly presented. Overall, this is a good, quick spy drama with fights and escapes yet not much else. It is well shot, the fight scenes are realistic, and there is a female hero to root for.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bad Grandpa

If one wants to see gross examples of “Candid Camera” gone wrong, this is the movie for them. It is laugh out funny, yet is purposely disgusting at times, so note that intent beforehand. Unwitting people witness and interact with offbeat, insane, and sometimes inane antics and their reactions are recorded. The antics are hilariously incorrect which surprises those who stumble across these actions.

This movie connects the series of trickery on unsuspecting people into a plot. This makes the movie a little more interesting as there is a storyline. While many scenes result from spontaneity, the plot is established. Some of the scenes contain planned dialogue to move the plot. Still the focus is on hidden cameras capturing reaction shots from people witnessing planned set-ups.

There is lots of foul language and sexual content, much of which occurs t in front of a child actor, which may disturb some. There is “gross out” humor and inappropriate humor galore. That was what the movie intended. If you don’t mind this, you may well find this movie hilarious. If you do mind that, you may be offended. Yet we may even be offended and find yourself laughing out loud. The comedy is generally well timed. The reactions are real and capturing that is what makes this movie work. It ain’t Shakespeare, but it is fun.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Captain Phillips

“Captain Phillips” is a thrilling adventure of modern day piracy and kidnapping at sea. The story and script are excellent as one learns about the characters, both criminals and victims. The motivations and lives allow viewers to understand where each comes from and what their desires are. Most of the movie presents an almost constant struggle. The tension is nearly non-stop. The actors all make the movie very believable. This movie should be noted as one of the greatest “edge of your seat” thrillers of all time.

The photography and scenery bring viewers into the story. The story and the dangers are very believable. Each actors displays convincing emotions. This movie is about as good as a realistic action drama can get.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Girl Most Likely

This is a good presentation of a woman watching her life heading towards destruction and her efforts to climb back upwards. The initial story is not a compelling: she does so poorly at work she deserves to be fired. Her boyfriend leaves her and she creates her own crisis to win him back only to find herself sent to live with her estranged family. The greater and more interesting story is of a woman who is lost in who she is and her struggle to find who she is. The storyline rapidly and continually improves as increasing difficulties are thrown at the main character as she struggles in coping with eccentric family members and boarders. Yet it is they who help her turn her life around.

This is a comedy and has some “laugh at loud” moments. The humor does not detract from its being serious and introspective look at depression. The real story is that of a woman who failed to live up to her potential and has given up on achieving what she once thought she could. Learning who she is, what she can do, and what is important in life, the viewer learns, is what really matters.

The dramatic turn near the end is a stretch from realism, which is a shame for a movie that otherwise is quite realistic. The bizarre brother role is skillfully portrayed with an authenticity that kept this movie appearing lifelike. The climax ties into earlier elements presented throughout the movie. It also has a display of great symbolism in what the brother constructed. The climax, though, failed to adhere to the realistic feel that existed throughout the rest of the film although it does resolve most of the story’s questions, creates heroes, and vindicates some.

Kristen Wiig is convincing as the lead character. The sustaining cast each add their own special elements to this movie. The acting is all around excellent and the dialogue is good. The plot could have been more dramatic and the climatic twist was lacking. Overall, this is a fun movie that achieves both tragic plot elements as well as humor.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Crime Fiction

“Crime Fiction” challenges viewers to consider whether the protagonist is in fact a villain. One sees the failures of a fiction writer who finds success from writing about an accidental death. His guilt drives him to write about what he did. Yet others begin wondering where “fiction” meets “fact”, including a well known writer who seeks to manipulate him. Overall, this is a well written script about deception. Viewers seeking a good hero will be disappointed. Viewers seeking intrigue and manipulation with no real heroes may be satisfied. It is well acted and holds one’s interest.Fans of crime movies should enjoy this movie. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


If ever people decided to make a movie so bad it would be good, it would have to be “Sharknado”. It has great special effects showing the devastating end of many Los Angeles area sites. While bloody scenes detract from the whimsy, much of the destruction is more laughable than frightening. The movie requires a remarkable suspension of belief, although that probably is intentional, including the basic fact that sharks don’t like to eat people. Following a process that does not exist but in theory, tornados are destroyed by bombs. The downside, of course, is that sharks trapped in said tornadoes will then fall, mostly without harm to themselves, onto Los Angeles where they will feed among Angelenos. It is good many L.A. people keep in shape for a healthy shark diet. The improbably stories and ending are just that. This is a movie to sit back and enjoy watching such things as fighting sharks with bar stools. There is an attempt at a storyline yet the focus on the sharks means the story arcs are diminished. This is not a movie to be taken seriously.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Justified: Season Four

The fourth season of “Justified” continues this show’s greatness with continued coming  great scripts and stories that offer good twists. This season focused more on the local characters and their  interesting eccentricities and traditions, which is more interesting than past times when the emphasis shifted to almost traditional out of town mob villains. The interwoven lives of the characters continues drawing interest. The continuing drama between the good of Raylan and the bad of Boyd continues making both most intriguing characters. For viewers who like a modern day battle between U.S. Marshals and a number of villainous characters who are also trying to put something over each other, this season will be a delight.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mad Men: Season Six

The sixth season of “Mad Men” moved the storylines along nicely. It was interspersed with enjoyable subtle humors where audiences of today laugh at some of the values and lifestyles of the 1960s. The season began with an emphasis on romantic affairs before settling more towards advancing plots. As the season progressed, the intrigues of the advertising business and its interesting characters emerge along with the affairs that interfere, often badly, with their lives. The lead character, Don Draper surprisingly emerges as a bit of a brute at times, yet he pays for that. Viewers learn more insights into Don’s childhood and how that now affects his behavior. This is an excellent show. The acting is great. The characters are flawed, yet in captivating ways so viewers love following them. This series is well written. This is a good adult series.