Thursday, October 23, 2014


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: John Wick...Ouch!

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Lordie, lordie what an ex-hit man won't do for the love of his dog. Keanu Reeves is back in this slam-bam-thank-you-mam kind of violent, IMAX, computer game film with witty dialogue. As bloody as this film is, it is funny. Great dialogue at bizarre moments keeps you on the edge of your neighbor's seat. If there is too much blood, you can always go to the loo for some relief.
This film is about revenge. And after John Wick, who is a retired hit man, witnesses his dog killed by some sod, you just want him to get all of those cruel, sadistic S.O. B.s. His wife is murdered in the opening and she has sent him a dog to remember her by. Well, who knows who sends the dog, but a note from her accompanies the dog even though she is dead.
Now if you think written apologies are the solution for vengeance, this is not your film. John Wick is a wild west, let's put guns, knives, bullet proof vests on our bodies and get the creeps who 'done us wrong' John Wick's motto. He has tried the world in which violence is swept under the anger and does not agree with forgiveness. No. He is going to get 'em. At all costs. And a new dog, too.
And you will root for John Wick who has been trying to lead a clean, normal life after apparently being a premiere world renowned hit man. This is an action, adventure film with a limited plot, but creative visual effects that make the action vivid and visceral.
Directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the rest of the cast stars Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen and Willem Dafoe who is always menacing, but not always in such a small part. John Wick needed more Dafoe. Derek Kolstad wrote the thinnest story line ever, but hip dialogue. Adrianne Palicki plays hitwoman Ms. Perkins with real gusto and John Leugiziamo and Ian Shane again are in too brief roles as their acting is top notch. Clearly this is a Keanu Reeves vehicle and no other star is going to get in his way. Or else! Basta. End of him, them and the film. If blood, guns, violence is not for you, It is no surprise that John Wick will be a playable character for the game Payday 2, complete with his own perk tree, notably giving the ability to dual wield gun. This film is pure merchandising. So buy the game and skip the film, if knitting is more to your liking. Or a good book.


Movie Review: 'Fury' ... Love Between Soldiers

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While Fury is about the atrocities of World War II, it is really about heroic bonding between soldiers. Brad Pitt as Army Sergeant Wardaddy nurtures Norman (Logan Leman) who is a typist forced into combat under Wardaddy's "grow up or die' command of The Fury, a M4A3E8 Sherman tank. Norman has never fired a gun. Wardaddy teaches Norman how to fire a gun. Norman has never killed a soldier and refuses to. Wardaddy teaches Norman how to kill and how to survive. Fury stars four leading Jewish actors Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, and Jason Isaacs playing soldiers fighting Nazi Germany. Michael Pena and Scott Eastwood, yes the son of Clint Eastwood,who proves he is not just another handsome face, round out the cast. The ensemble acting is terrific.
It is the end of the war and the Allies are making a final push into the European Theatre, the blood and guts of Germany resplendent with Nazi's hidden in an otherwise idyllic countryside. Director /writer David Ayer chose Hertfordshire, England as his set. While the film's crew was rehearsing scenes, Brad Pitt was spotted by neighbors in the preparations driving a tank in the English countryside.
A team of five soldiers command the Fury, a Sherman Tank like no other . The film featured Tiger 131, the last surviving operational Tiger I. The tank belongs to Bovington Tank Museum. This is the first time a real Tiger tank -- and not a prop version -- has been used in a film.
Various battles scenes show these soldiers grow in their relationships to each other. A touching scene takes place an hour into the film when we are presented with our first and only women. Two German frauleins, Alicia Von Rottberg and Anmaria Marinca, are captured by Wardaddy and Norman. They end up friends, voluntary lovers and dining companions when in barge three soldiers who mock the beauties who only speak German. Wardaddy almost creates WWIII to instill in these soldiers dinner etiquette and respect for women. A good scene which shows how diverse the characters are and yet how close they become when in battle.
This scene is the touching meat and potatoes of Fury. Men overcome their chauvinism, their angers, and their diversity to defend our nation against a common, hideous enemy. Norman cried when Wardaddy held a gun in his hand as he forced Norman to learn to kill a Nazi. The audience applauded when Norman finally and enthusiastically killed Nazis. Give Fury a chance and while it is not a fun fest, it is a triumph of ensemble acting and how America's brave soldiers and their heroic choices beat the sadistic Nazis. Who likes to watch war? Director David Ayer helps you to care and to understand our soldiers who fought for our freedom and this is why Fury is an important film

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Kill the Messenger ... a Great Film

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Jeremy Renner is perfect to portray Gary Webb. Kill the Messenger is about integrity. It is a true story about the investigative journalist, Gary Webb, who exposed the corruption that nailed the CIA for being aware of the funding of the Contra war in Nicaragua with drug money. Webb won a Pulitzer for his reporting then was smeared by some obvious and some mysterious sources. He ended up committing suicide with two shots to his brain.
Suicide? How could he pull the trigger twice after he had shot himself once in the brain? Did he expose too powerful forces to go on living? He exposed corruption so decisively that the sources he exposed blocked his ever being able to write again. Webb needed to write to live. Writing was in his blood. Writing the truth, not what some editor wants him to write. Not what the public wants to read, but what he deemed important revelation. Silencing him murdered his spirit.
Kill the Messenger shows the behind the scenes working of newspapers and how they inspire, but can also destroy writers. The San Jose Mercury News destroyed Webb after the jealous bigger papers--the LA Times and Washington Post--became Webb's enemies because he exposed a scandal they should have uncovered . They set out to destroy his article. His writings. His character. His credibility. His discovery of the truth that drug smuggling was funding the Contra War and the CIA was aware of this but looked the other way. His discovery that the CIA created cheap crack cocaine to sell on the streets in the ghettos of Los Angeles. His discovery that the CIA created a drug infested epidemic which destroyed African Americans squatting in ghettos. Though Webb had been awarded the Pulitzer, because of pressure put on his own paper, The San Jose Mercury, and by the media as to Webb's credibility, The San Jose Mercury began to investigate the veracity of his series of articles titled Dark Alliance (1996). When he is told this, he quits, never to earn a living as a writer again. The Chicago Tribune and The L.A. Times eventually vindicate him, but the vicious smear to his character had been done.
According to Wikipedia which published, Gary Webb's following statement, "I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn't work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite? And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job ... The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress ..."
Mike Cuesta's direction of this no frills thriller has your heart aching as you root for Gary Webb and for the poor being manipulated in ghettos by being made dependent on crack cocaine. This film's screenplay is written by Peter Landesman while it is based on Gary Webb's book Dark Alliance and Nick Schou's book Kill The Messenger. Nick Shou was a reporter for the LA Weekly reporter.
The cast is made up of stars in small, meaningful parts. These stars, one would suspect, accepted these roles because of the importance of this film. Andy Garcia, Rosemary De Witt as Gary Webb's wife, Martin Sheen, Ray Liotta, Oliver Platt, Barry Pepper, are a few of the familiar faces who appear throughout Kill the Messenger. And Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb shines over all in a tour de force performance.
Here you have history at the movies which is a joy amidst the mindless onslaught of animated films. Grab Kill the Messinger for a Golden Oldie style of storytelling...that is one with meaning and purpose.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones -- Gobble Gobble

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Liam Neeson is always a treat to watch. And so he is in A Walk Among the Tombstones. "I have always liked to play loners like Steve Mc Queen and like Robert Mitchum did as Phillip Marlowe," Neeson said on GMA as he explained his attraction to portraying characters with a moral compass. Pity the script of A Walk Among the Tombstones could not have lived up to Liam Neeson's appeal.
In this bestselling mystery written by Lawrence Block , Neeson plays a retired NYPD detective Scudder haunted by demons who has been manipulated in solving the kidnapping of drug king pin Kenny Kristo's (Dan Stevens) wife. This heroin dealer is played by Dan Stevens straight from Downton Abbey as Matthew Crawley. With his weight loss and hair dyed blonde to brunette, he is barely recognizable. But his fine acting in A Walk Among the Tombstones is.
In a library, Scudder meets a young punk, TJ (Brian Astro Bradley) who tears up the screen every time he appears. Bradley is helped by having some of the best dialogue. While this film's dialogue is not the problem, the script by Scott Frank, who wrote the sceenplay and directed this turkey, is. A good pace in the form of a cat and mouse caper is created and moves swiftly, mysteriously through the film.

But in the end as Frank felt a need to accent the character change in Scudder who is a recovering alcoholic, a voice over recites the Twelve Steps of AA Recovery. This distracting, silly voice over ruins the plot like a sledgehammer. This voice over was not needed.
It just blocked the natural flow of this film and its forward movement. We have scenes of Scudder in an AA meeting sharing his story and scenes at an AA meeting with Howie (Eric Nelson), a fellow addict, who introduces Scudder to drug dealer Kristo. These are effective and establish character, but enough already with the AA preaching the Twelve Steps and trying to use as part of the plot. Shame on Scott Frank for ruining a good film.
Also A Walk Among the Tombstones would certainly have been a better film if there were meaningful roles for women. Oh, we have photos of the dead wife Leila Alvarez (Laura Birn) as she is murdered used in the credits and another victim who is kidnapped Marielle Heller. Then again a nurse, Natia Dune, but creating women's roles intrinsic to a plot are an anathema to Lawrence Block and Scott Frank.
Oh where o' where are the women's roles in Hollywood and women directors who would welcome them? The kidnappers are played by David Harbor, who is always convincing, and Adam David. Their gruesome way of killing their victims is by cutting up the bodies and stuffing them in plastic bags. The ending is predictable, but all could have been forgiven if Scott Frank gotten off of his AA pulpit and gotten in front of the lens and looked more closely at what he had created and let it have its own life on the screen.


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Gone Girl...Too Far Gone

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Gone Girl is a thriller that exposes the ugly side of a marriage gone wrong. It is a chilling account of a distraught husband looking for his missing wife, Rosamund Pike, who portrays Amy Dunne. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, a spineless, milquetoast of a celebrity husband who is a creative writing teacher with financial problems. When suspicion focuses on him and that he may be involved in the sinister kidnapping or murder of his wife, he gradually becomes undone as you wonder more and more about his guilt. His twin sister Margo Dunne (Carrie Coon) commiserates with him. Kim Dickens plays Detective Ronda Boney who manages to keep cohesiveness to this fragmented film. Dickens holds back her thoughts with cautious facial expressions which add mystery and keep your emotions on the edge. Director David Fincher, known for his direction of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Fight Club, in an interview about his film's male-female relationships said, "The men are not really present." Nick Dunne is not really present in this movie. To reveal any more about this plot is to ruin any suspense.
Much drama is attached to Amy Dunne's disappearance, and in the end this film is like a soufflé gone bad. The plot is made of sharp, manipulative turns. Assumptions are made, then you discover you were wrong as you witness a savage indictment of marriage.
Shades of Presumed Innocent hover over this best seller as does a portrait of mental illness.
Neil Patrick Harris is miscast as a love interest. He is supposed to be in love or in lust with Amy Dunne, but instead of sparks flying in the bedroom, they fizzle on the wall to wall. Rosamund Pike is the girl who has gone or is gone. Her face is perfection. It has a frozen, almost chiseled, look much like sculptured faces with too much surgery, but she has had none. Her looks possess a coldness that is essential for Amy Dunne. Ms. Pike ironically or not so ironically was cast while doing a film in Scotland over Skype. She communicated with director Fincher over cell. Problem was the only cell tower in her area of Scotland was on the top of a hill. Her casting was dependent on cold weather and rare, impersonal technology which director Fincher used to his advantage to cast a cold heartless Amy Dunne.
But it is Tyler Perry who plays lawyer, Tanner Bolt, hired by Nick Dunne who holds this film together. Mr. Perry has a smooth wit and sense of truth that make his scenes flow with humor.
I was disappointed with the conclusion of Gone Girl which makes it appear that writer, Gillian Flynn, ran out of ideas. I ran out of the theater in disbelief of the praise heaped on this humdinger of hot air.
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