Thursday, August 15, 2013
Great sets, innovative technology and brilliant acting make Paranoia a summer treat. For Jock Goddard played by Harrison Ford, duplicity is simply a hat trick. He plays the good guy with sincerity and aplomb while his bald head gives him added stature. Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) is another badass corporate CEO and keeps the suspense building. While for looks, Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) as the how –could-I -have -been -so -stupid innocent is more than boy candy. He gets to work his acting chops while surrounded by this great cast. Lest we not forget Emma Jennings (Amber Heard) who has some killer lines in the opening scene. She jumps onto the Beautyrest with Adam then throws him out in the AM without telling him her name. “I’m not into Bridge and Tunnel guys, “she says as she closes the door on Adam’s beautiful buttocks. And Paranoia was written by guys--Jason Hall and Barry Levy.
Richard Dreyfuss (Frank Cassidy) as Adam’s father takes his moments and makes the most of every line. He gets a firm giggle out of the audience when he comes close to groping his nurse’s derriere. May not sound funny, buy Dreyfuss makes it funny. Comedy is his gift.
Robert Lukedic has directed a thriller about technology with the cell phone the star of this kind of big brother fear of being watched by everyone. With GPS in the newer cell phones, tracking as well as recording from a cell phone is a reality. The most outstanding scene is when all the protagonists come together in a gangland style meeting and Goddard says, “All cell phones on the table and remove the batteries.” Cell phones have replaced guns.
Paranoia is a techno thriller about two companies, Wyatt and Goddard, who spy on each other for the most innovative servers, processors and inventions. The CEO’s of these companies will steal each other’s technology and murder at the click of a mouse.
Adam Cassidy is strapped with hospital fees for his ailing father, Frank. Hoping to get a top paying job, he meets with Nicolas Wyatt who is the head of Wyatt Industries. Wyatt needs to get a transformer for his latest line of cell phones and has hired a team of young techies to make a presentation. A newbie to the screen, Lucas Till plays Kevin, a sort of techno wizard and adds a fresh face and more talent to this ensemble.
Adam becomes a pawn for Wyatt Industries and agrees to spy on Goddard’s inventions by becoming an employee of Goddard. It is refreshing to see good old fashioned running as a thrilling chase scene and even more refreshing to witness the end of this crackerjack thriller with a hot built in love story to boot. The look of this film is as slick as the acting and you will not regret your wise choice in seeing Paranoia.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Review-Lee Daniel's The Butler...Just a Minute
Barack Obama , Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Kennedy Family, Andrew Dunn, Dwight Eisenhower, Forrest Whittaker, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Lee Daniels, Mariah Carey , Nancy Reagan, Terrence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Cuba Gooding Jr, Lieb Schrieber, Ophra Winphrey, Robin Williams, Rodrigo Leao, Will Haygood, Entertainment News
While stars abound as pop ups in cameos, this story is not about celebrity, but ideals. It is about the gruesome spilling of blood unfortunately necessary to arrive at the pinnacle of the civil rights movement-- a black president. Barack Obama. So all the celebrity is almost a mute point when one focuses on the issues, the cause, and the history of the African American.
Our nation's suffering is the slow and subtle drumbeat--mantra-- felt throughout. Perhaps Lee Daniels thought maybe, just maybe, this film will get attention if I pepper it up with rich cameos by celebrities-- though at times I felt this took away from the sincerity of the screenplay. Yes, it was fun to play guess who's coming to or who's serving dinner, but it blocked the forward thrust of the stellar screenplay by Danny Strong based on an article "A Butler Well Served by this Election" by Will Haygood.
Jane Fonda steals the cameo performances by portraying a tender Nancy Reagan. Robin Williams delightfully underplays Dwight Eisenhower. Here as Annabeth Westfall , Vanessa Redgrave's posture relates volumes of empathy for slaves. Mariah Carey plays Hattie Pearl, the mother of a young Cecil Gaines in a brief but poignant moment. Lieb Schreiber is a confused Lyndon Johnson who is filmed constipated and seated on his toilet with his two dogs by his feet as he addresses his butler. Terrence Howard sizzles as Howard the butler who is having a fling with a frustrated Gloria Gaines. Cuba Gooding Jr, as Carter Wilson, serves as his usual comic relief as another White House butler as does Lenny Kravitz. John Cusack is a touching, yet sad and pathetic Richard Nixon. James Marsden as JFK is tender and wise though racked with pain from Addison's disease and Alan Richman is a befuddled and yet compassionate Ronald Reagan.
The music by Rodrigo Leao is used to accent certain moments. almost becoming a character while being effective as is the well composed cinematography by Andrew Dunn.
And lest we not forget the heartfelt and subtle performance of Oprah Winphrey as the butler's wife, Gloria Gaines, who struggles to find a life in the shadow of her husband's celebrated employers--presidents. Her character is reduced to having a drinking problem because she is frustrated in her need to find a purpose in life. When she, at last, is invited by Nancy Reagan to a dinner party at the White House, she wants so much to dazzle and fit in that she wears a beaded gown more appropriate for a crap table at Caesars. Wisely Winphrey adjusts her buxom cleavage in between courses, both performed in character and thus accentuating the garishness of the dress. Winphreys' performance is not the look -at -me -listen-to-me person we hear and see on talk shows. Her performance is the real sincere deal.
But this film belongs to Forrest Whittaker who internalizes the suffering of African Americans until due to aging he is hunched over, shuffling his feet while his character has never stood taller. He is the butler and the link that allows the film's story to be told. Bravo for the story and bravo to Forrest Whittaker. But ultimately telling the story of the struggle of African Americans thru excessive celebrity is like piping in a soundtrack of Hooray for Hollywood in the midst of a race riot in Selma. Inappropriate
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