Crime Legend

Tom Hardy is the king of films. He easily moves between block buster and independent movies trying new things and taking roles that interest him. He doesn’t play the Hollywood games but still managed to get nominated for an Academy Award. Hardy is more than just a pretty face or some eccentric that other actors shun; he is amazingly talented and incredibly versatile.

Legend is a crime thriller based on the lives of the Kray twins and their organized crime in East London during the 50’s and 60’s.Told in the voice of Frances Shea, who would become Reggie’s wife, the movie chronicles their relationship, the relationship of the two brothers, and the many crimes the twins commit.

He has played comic book characters, battled a dystopian future without much dialogue, and proved that you can enjoy a movie featuring just one man driving a car. Often the movies themselves cannot live up to Hardy’s performance but they are worth viewing to watch this amazing man sharpen his craft. Legend may only skim the surface of the plot, but Hardy dives deep into these characters proving that he is a master of his craft. Both of his twins are very different and you almost wouldn’t believe they were the same person. They had their own voice, their own walk and their own way to reacting to others.

Unfortunately, this is one of the movies doesn’t live up to his performance. Like Child 44 and The Regnant, these films fail in their story telling and Hardy is the best part of the movie (except for The Reverent; the cinematography gives Hardy a run for his money). Legend doesn’t delve deep into the Kray brother. It seems to gloss over their emotions and true motivations. The majority of characters fall flat as they aren’t written with enough depth for the actors to work with these actors include the Doctor himself Chris Eccleston and the up and coming Taron Egerton). The Twin’s story seems to be a truly thought provoking story but the script only skitters across the surface.

If you are renting a Tom Hardy movie this weekend, I encourage you to go The Drop, probably Hardy’s most underrated movie.

An Atypical Thriller

Movies featuring special needs characters always end up being tear jerkers. It’s rare to find a feel good or even a thriller that deals with people who are non-typical. When these characters are in movies like this they are usually secondary and stereotypically and overly dramatic versions of what people with these issues really are like. The Accountant does a great job integrating someone who is different and enmeshing them in a thrilling fantasy world.

the-accountant-5Christian Wolf (and his plethora of aliases) was diagnosed with autism at a young age back at a time where society was even less accepting of those that were different. His mother wants to do everything to help her son succeed life but his father sees his son’s issues as weakness. As his father tries to eradicate these weaknesses by putting Christian and his brother through a variety of trials that will affect them the rest of their lives, his mother leaves the family because of the lack of help for her son. Christian is now an accountant using his talent for math and organization to have a semblance of a normal life. But he hides his true work like he hides his autism negating his work with mob bosses and drug cartels to the background and keeping his head down. That is until he goes to work for Lamar Black and uncovers a money laundering scheme that puts himself and his coworkers in danger. Christian uses his certain set of skills to protect her and solve the puzzle.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Accountant. As someone who has studied and worked in the field of autism for over a decade, I was worried how they would portray the main character and his developmental disorder. Luckily, it seems that the writer, directors and actor were truly aware of what autism entails and how it often manifests. The entire movie was entirely respectful not negating it to an unrealistic role in his life nor over blowing it for dramatic affect. Affleck does a great job with the character and does well portraying a high functioning autistic adult.

The rest of the cast shines as well. Iconic actors such as J.K. Simmons, Jean Smart, Jeffery Tambor and THE ACCOUNTANTJohn Lithgow add powerful depth. While Smart and Tambor have minimal parts, it’s always great to see their face on the big screen. But the best parts of the movie feature Affleck and Jon Bernthal, an up and coming heavy hitter. The two have major chemistry and their interactions are imbued with a variety of emotions. Bernthal is an amazing actor, and I look forward to seeing where his career takes him.

The plot seems farfetched in the trailer but the movie smooths things out nicely. The movie spans Christian’s entire life featuring flashbacks to his youth and the defining moments of his life. It builds a complex story about family and nature vs nurture. Stories that seem to run parallel entwine and most often come full circle. The movie features two promenade twists (only one in which I saw coming early on) that answer any questions that the movie brings up.

Well researched, written, and acted, The Accountant is a fun thriller that changes the way we see movies with nontypicallly developing characters. Now if Affleck would just continue to make these kinds of movies instead of the Batman movies.

 

Summer Movie Swing Part 2

Independence Day: Resurgence

Available on BluRay and DVD Oct. 18

The movie has garnered a lot of negative attention from critics but it is a pretty good action movie and the ending magnifies the movie in tone and scope

This summer both Hemsworth brother get the spotlight (Chris steals the show while Liam is the new generation of leading men). Liam is the handsome face of the new American generations (with the required darkness of course). He joins a team of returning cast (including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman) and newbies (Sela Ward, Jesse T. Usher) that are awesome combination of past and present (but be prepared to say goodbye to some beloved characters)independence-day-resurgence when the next threat hits. Earth has been planning for the aliens return and has used the alien’s technology to benefit the entire planet. As the movie opens they are working one a new weapon while an elite team of pilots are getting ready for just about anything. Their patience is rewarded when the mother ship comes home. But what we haven’t anticipated? Earth wasn’t to the first to be attacked by these monsters.

Many critics have killed Resurgence which surprises me. It’s pure Hollywood Action Movie Recipe and manages to produce a capable action flick. I must agree that it doesn’t live up to the original but it has all the same pieces: great action, characters you like, and a final outlandish attack (there’s even a pretty moving speech). I enjoyed the action and was interested in where the alien’s history will take us.

Resurgence is notable because it is the perfect sequel/reboot. There is the passing of the crown to the younger generation while honoring those that came before. Integrating characters from the first movie and having several of them survive is a key in keeping the franchise consistent but their rolls make it easier for the new characters to become center stage. Viewers get to say goodbye and hello without feeling cheated (unlike other recent reboots).

I was unhappy with the forced franchise set up. As the plot develops there is no doubt that the franchise could continue so it was rather tacky and cliché as the ending is set up for an ensured sequel. I guess, at this point, Hollywood hasn’t had time to learn from Divergent. I’ll see the sequel (if the producers decided this one made enough money), but don’t expect it to be as good as the first or even as good as this one.

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Suicide Squad

Available on BluRay and DVD Dec. 13

Suicide Squad gets a few things right and a few wrong. It’s nowhere near the best comic based movie this year and it is not the worst.

Suicide Squad follows a group of villains who have been put together to fight the new growing supernatural threat in the world. In the wake of Superman the government is scared and somehow letting lunatics out to fight those like him is a great idea. When Enchantress (one of the squad’s own) goes berserk, the team is called out for their trail one. The team proves they can battle the forces of evil while being (mostly) evil themselves.suicidesquad

Suicide Squad is the best when it’s using its sound track to personify the characters and getting viewers into the mood for a good ass kicking. The music gives death to the many one dimensional characters. That’s not to say they are all one demission. Diablo is the most compelling of the stories and we do get flashbacks into what Harley Quinn once was and a small look into what actually motivates her.

The writing of the characters isn’t the only problem; casting cripples character like Deadshot and Flag. No matter what Will Smith thinks, this was an ensemble movie and his desire to push his leading man status down our throats harms the movie. Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag is the poor man’s Tom Hardy, literally. After Hardy left the project (I knew there would be problems with this movie when he walked out), the production set out to find someone who could be Hardy and since that’s impossible, ___ is slammed between a rock and a hard place. Outside of the Human Flame, the best characters are regulated to a just a few lines; Boomerang and Croc get to make a few wisecracks and stand around taking up space instead of being integrated into a cohesive team. I would have rather have seen more of them and less of characters like the Joker.

Ah, Jared Leto, the most controversial of all of this. He was a horrible Joker playing him as a strung out meth head who paraded around as a mob boss. It was painful to watch and you just waited for his over-the-top scenes to be over. Everyone involved wanted Joker to be different and he is, in fact, very different but no one bothered to ask if it was any good.

Suicide Squad is an entertaining romp that needs a lot of fine tuning before its next foray.

 

Ghostbusters

Now available on BluRay and DVD

Ghostbuster also reboots an old story. The Ghostbusters crew dedicated the movie to original writer and star Harold Ramiz but the movie doesn’t live up to the Ramis’ reputation.

A team of estranged researcher reunite when a local historic location has shown evidence of haunting. While the team easily sees through the gimmicks, they suddenly find themselves face to face with real ghosts. The two must expand their team (including their research assistant, an outspoken subway work, and a model of receptionist) to get to the bottom of the disturbance. And they quickly find that it’s not isolated. New York City has a ghost problem!

The movie had some great parts but the biggest issue is that it isn’t Ghostbusters. The tone is not the ghostbusters2016image004same, the movie is super CGed and the only real connection is some icon images and gear. The movie would have been better standing on its own as a Ghostbusters inspired movie; the four ladies get together to bring back the old idea and gear and set up their own movie with tone and vision. The overly CGed world of this Ghostbuster isn’t scary at all and is just another C level reboot.

But there are some fabulous parts to the movie and those are the two characters that get the most laugh. Leslie Jones starts out as stereotypical hysterical black women but quickly she starts saying and doing what we as normal people think. The prime example is the “room of nightmares”; she refuses to go in a room of mannequins because she knows how it will end. But the move is propelled by Chris Hemsworth who gives his best performance ever as the dumb secretary that throws gender roles on its head. He is hilarious but turns on the gravitas in a heartbeat (it also helps he was allowed to use his own accent).

I’m not a Trump supporter (screw you Apatow), but I still believe the quality wasn’t very good. Hollywood stuck with a gimmick but lacked substance. Women are funny, especially when you let them be.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Available on BluRay and DVD Nov. 29

It is interesting that Hollywood is finally getting behind female centric comedies when other countries have been doing it for years. It’s hard to look at BBC comedy without noting the plethora of female comedians. AbFab’s returns continue to prove that women are funny and can pull the big screen attendants.

Edina Monsoon is desperate not it sink into oblivion and continues to struggle with her PR firm. She is always on the edge of the next big get or the next big trend but never fully lands. Eddie has finally lands something and it’s not good. When it is revealed Kate Moss is looking for a new PR director, Eddie accidently kills Moss in her scramble to get the position. Eddie and Patsy must escape before she can be crucified for the fashion world’s biggest death ever. But Eddie and Patsy don’t know how to do low key and their situation continues to sink and sink and get funnier and funnier.

English movies based on TV show like to recycle old materials from their shows (see Are You Being Served and Bean for examples) but AbFab is more subtle about how it does this. Instead of pulling whole gags from the series, running gags appear at every corner. Mother is still being verbally trashed; her nurse still thinks Eddie’s fat and Eddie has finally added a second verse to her “walking down the road” song! This is wonderful treats for long time fans without trying their patience. And as always, the movie is star studded with a variety of cameos from Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie to the “really hot right absolutely-fabulous-the-movieartnow” Rebel Wilson. And, of course, there’s Lulu!

The movie largely secedes because Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley become Eddie and Patsy and they give it their all. They don’t inject anything PC into this character taking women’s issues as basis and then exaggerates them to the point of being funny. A movie about woman insecure about her weight is usually a Lifetime movie with a sad sound track. Instead Saunders takes Edina and makes her larger than life, and it is at that point we can connect to Eddie; while some of us may have done dumb stuff, none of us are as dumb as Eddie.

Many of today’s comedians such as Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham need to take note. It’s ok to be honest, foul mouthed and talk about our vagina without sinking to likes of their male counter parts. (I mean, I don’t want another Sausage Party from men let alone something like that from women. Ick. That genre of comedy should just die out.) Saunders and Lumley do it right, they do it real, and they do it with a lot more class.