Why Movies?

Do you love movies?


When I was a kid, my brother and I used to go to the Saturday Morning Matinees to watch our favorite serial stars, like Commander Cody, Flash Gordon, heroes who always faced certain death at the end of the episode, and somehow always made it back the next week.

If there is a particular film you would like to see reviewed, or just one you would like to talk about, feel free to comment.
Thanks, Fred

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Knight's Tale - 2001

A Knight's Tale - 2001


Columbia Pictures Corporation, Escape Artists, Finestkind


Written and Directed by Brian Helgeland


Cast:


Story: We are in medieval times, and the squires of a certain knight, Sir Hector, have discovered he is dead, just moments before his final match in the joust. If the knight wins, he would receive a prize of gold and his squires would be able to eat, which they have not done in three days! So William Thatcher, one of the squires, decides to don his armor and compete in his place, a dangerous decision. If he is discovered, the powers that be would have him hanged, for only persons of royal birth can compete in the joust. They manage to pull off the deception and win the match, but William is determined to continue and keep jousting. On their way to Rouen, they run into Geoffrey Chaucer, who has a bit of a gambling problem, but is a skilled writer and offers to forge patents of nobility for William in exchange for food, clothing, and a chance to travel about. William is successful and gains great renown, but he makes an enemy of Count Adhemar. a knight who finds him very annoying and sets out to destroy him in any way he can. William, of course, falls in love with a beautiful, wealthy girl who admires his skills and honesty. Soon they gain the company of a skilled woman armorer and blacksmith, and our merry band is on the way to the world championships in London.

Review: Probably one of the most original movies ever made, this tale compares modern sports to the realm of jousting in medieval times, and pulls it off magnificently. Heath Ledger is perfect in the role of William Thatcher, a young man hired out to a knight as a squire to “change his stars”. The story has everything, including romance, comedy, and drama. Rufus Sewell as Count Adhemar is the perfect dissociated royalty who cares little for the common folk. He loves the adoration of the crowd and their subservience, and considers them beneath him. Mark Addy, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, and Laura Fraser complete his band of Merry Men and do so with a flair seldom seen in actors who are at the beginning of their careers, but perhaps that is the magic Helgeland was able to conjure here. Personally, I would have reversed the roles of Jocelyn and Christiana, since I think Bérénice Bejo is much hotter than Shannyn Sassamon, but I grant you that is a matter of taste. James Purefoy as Edward the Black Prince plays the role to the hilt, and adds the icing on the cake to this already perfectly baked confection. Toss in perfect photography, excellent costuming, and a soundtrack that evokes all the action of modern day sports, and you have a perfect movie. Rated PG-13 for language, violence, and a brief sexual innuendo, I personally don't see a problem with most preteens watching this. Definitely a collectible film, both for the fans of Heath and the rest of us who just like a good movie.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The General's Daughter - 1999

The General's Daughter - 1999


Paramount Pictures, Neufeld Rehme Productions, MFP Munich Film Partners GmbH & Company I. Produktions KG


Directed by Simon West


Cast:


Story: An Army Criminal Investigations Division Agent, Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, is undercover investigating the illegal sales of weapons to a civilian at Fort MacCallum. He is about to arrest the civilian when his suspect attempts to murder him and is killed in the process. As he is finishing up reporting to the local sheriff, he gets a call. When he arrives at a training area on the fort, he sees the body of a young woman lying staked to the ground and MP's all around. He has met her before, she helped him change a flat tire the night before. Also on the scene is a CID rape counselor and investigator, WO Sara Sunhill, with whom Brenner has had previous relations. Soon they discover the victim is none other than the daughter of the soon to retire General Campbell. As the two investigators probe into the crime, they discover a trail of coverups that lead back to West Point, the academy where the General's Daughter attended. Suspect after suspect is investigated until the truth is revealed, a truth the Army did not want revealed.

Review: Just how far should the military be allowed to “take care of it's own”? That is the underlying question in this fictional account of a rape covered over for the “good of the service”. Or was it? Travolta is at his best in this suspenseful thriller that places him between the proverbial rock and hard place. Is he a soldier first or a police officer? James Woods is equally good as the Commander and friend of the victim, and his position as the head of Psychological Warfare group makes him an interesting foil for the questions the investigator must ask. Madeline Stowe presents an interesting character as the skilled rape investigator who uncovers the perpetrators with a “minimum of effort”, and her conversations with Travolta (the character's ex-lover) bring out an interesting sub plot to the film. While the other actors in the film are adequate to the plot, the main conflict lies with Travolta and Stowe, so the remainder of the cast plays “second fiddle”. With scenes of nudity, sexual sadism, language and violence being strung throughout the film, it is well deserving of the R rating. While not particularly collectible, this film should be seen by any lover of a good drama with a surprising ending.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blade: Trinity - 2004

Blade: Trinity - 2004


New Line Cinema, Shawn Danielle Productions Ltd., Amen Ra Films


Written and Directed by David S. Goyer


Cast:


Story: The Vampires, as usual, are up to no good. Not only have they finally located the final resting place of Drake, the original Vampire (known as Dracula or Dagon), but they've managed to set up Blade so he kills a familiar, and they get it on tape. So now Blade has to deal with law enforcement as well as Vampires, and when they raid his base, they capture him while Whistler is killed in the process. Blade is being held in police headquarters when a group of vampire hunters named the Night Stalkers intervenes for a rescue. When they complete the rescue, Blade discovers Whistler was in cahoots with this group as backup for Blade in case something happened to him. The group includes an ex-vampire named Hannibal King and an adept archer named Abigail Whistler...Whistler's daughter. This group is tech savvy and has advanced weaponry and a plan to thwart the vampire nation, a biological weapon called Daystar. The only problem? The DNA from the turned vampires is too thinned out to be of use. Unwittingly, the vampires have brought back the only source of vampire DNA pure enough to make Daystar effective: Drake.

Review: Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson reprise their roles and the hybrid vampire hunter and his partner / armorer. While this film lacks some of the more visceral elements of the first two, it makes up in action what it lacks in darkness. Dominic Purcell is perfect in the role of Drake, the true immortal who is risen from his sleep by the desperate Danica Talos, played by Parker Posey. Parker does a nice job if you take into account a vampire like that might be a bit on the emo side, and the sarcasm between her and her former lover, played nicely by Ryan Reynolds, plays a major part of the script. Reynolds role is non-stop smart ass, and it suits him well. Triple H does an adequate job as the strong arm vampire, but my advice to Paul is not to give up his day job. Jessica Biel shines as Whistler's daughter, and her acting is one of the saving graces of the film. All in all, we do have to remember this is a comic book based in an alternate universe (Canada qualifies, I do believe) and the characters are two dimensional, which is expected. The cinematography and photography are great, the action scenes are exceptional, and we get the impression Blade may not come back to the screen. But who knows, there may be another threat coming up soon. Rated R for violence, language, and brief nudity (Jessica Biel in the shower....oh yeah), this is a collectible is you are a fan of Blade or just a fan of the comic (graphic novel) genre.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Knockaround Guys - 2001

Knockaround Guys - 2001


New Line Cinema, Lawrence Bender Productions


Directed and Written by Brian Koppelman ,David Levien


Cast:


Story: Matty Demaret is 13 years old, and he has to make a decision. Teddy Deserves has Benny Boulevard in a basement trussed up like a prize turkey and tells Matty this is the guy responsible for his dad, Benny Chains, being in prison. Teddy hands Matty a gun and tells him its time to step up and be a man. But Matty is 13 years old, and can't pull the trigger.
Now Matty is in his early twenties, and he and his three friends are finding life just a little more difficult than they thought. Matty has the education and some experience in sports and wants to become a sports agent, but when his dad's name is brought up, its “thanks, but no thanks”. Chris Scarpa runs his dad's restaurant, Taylor Reese works as an vending machine distributor, and Johnny Marbles is a cokehead who has his own airplane. Their fathers, all old school mafia, have brought them up “privileged”, so they have never been involved with the dirty end of the business. Matty, since he can't get a job in his field, decides he wants to work for his father. A job comes up, a job that requires almost no effort. Benny needs a loan, and the guy loaning the money is in Seattle. Matty gets Marbles to fly out to Seattle to pick up the money and fly straight back. But when he stops for fuel in Wibaux, Wyoming, he gets paranoid when he sees the local sheriff and his deputy in the terminal and drops the bag in the baggage for a departing flight. Marbles screws up, and Matty, Scarpa, and Taylor have to fly out to Wibaux to find the bag and the money before the local authorities do.

Review: This films proves the consistency of Murphy's Law. If anything can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible time. Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Seth Green and Andy Davoli are all the privileged sons of mob bosses and it shows. They are caught in between their fathers' world and the straight word, and neither world has a place for them it seems. Dennis Hopper and John Malkovich play the boss and underboss to the hilt, two old school “Gumbas” who have a heavy rep and a lot of street cred. When Matty and his “crew” are finally given a chance to prove themselves, Marbles, who swears he is off the nose candy, screws up and forces them to come to his location to bail him out. Seth Green is Marbles, and out of the entire cast, he is the most believable character. I mean, face it, Seth Green has made a living out of being the perpetual screw up, and will likely continue in that role forever. Barry Pepper makes an effort to come off as the crew leader, but he is relying on everyone else to make decisions and call the shots for him. Vinnie comes off as a typical enforcer, a street thug who does have one of the best scenes in the film when he beats the hell out of Brucker, the small town hood who “runs” Wibaux. Andy Davoli has the smoothness of Hugh Hefner when it comes to the ladies, but lacks the mobster mentality. You have to ask yourself what he is doing in the crew. Tom Noonan gives an adequate but two dimensional performance as the Sheriff, and the entire movie comes off like a bad cartoon. Rated R for violence, drug use, and language, this one can stay on the shelf for a long time before anyone rents it, and then its gonna be someone who really likes one of the great actors in the film. Not collectible, and I am sure some of these actors are trying to buy up the copies.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Find Me Guilty - 2006

Find Me Guilty - 2006


Yari Film Group Releasing, Bob Yari Productions, Syndicate Films International


Directed by Sidney Lumet


Cast:


Story: Based on the true story of 1986-87 trial The United States v. Anthony Accetturo et al., this film focuses on Giacomo “Jackie Dee” or “Fat Jack” DiNorscio, the convicted drug dealer and distributor for the Lucchese family. This fictionalized account (names changed to protect the innocent?) gives us a character study of probably the last “stand up” guy in the mafia. Jackie is already serving a thirty year sentence for possession with intent to distribute cocaine when he is called to the federal prosecutor's office and offered a deal: Testify against your mob associates and we will cut time off your sentence, maybe even set you up with witness protection. Jackie tells Kierney, the prosecutor, in no uncertain terms to go to hell, and the trial is on. Kierney takes in personally, having all privileges revoked from Jackie in prison, including his old beat up recliner removed from his cell, which he has due to a bad back. During the trial, we witness the treatment of DiNorscio, who has chosen to represent himself, by the feds, by the judge, and by his peers. While most of the co-defendants remain friends with Jackie, Nick Calabrese, the “Don” of the Lucchese family, is rude and abusive to Jackie, blaming him for almost every nuance of the trial that appears not to go in their favor. There are some moments of comedy when Jackie talks to the jury, but the real drama comes when this mobster confronts the witnesses against him, including his own cousin, who tried to murder him in his home.

Review: If you were expecting another action adventure film with Vinnie Diesel, guess again. This film is one where Vin has to act, and I mean act. And he does it amazingly well. The plot is well laid out and sets a logical foundation from start to finish. While a failure at the box office, this film is one of the great underground sleepers everyone who is interested in the real history of the “Mafia” in the US should see. Vin portrays “Jackie Dee” DiNorscio, probably one of the last “Stand Up” guys in the mob, unwilling to sell out his friends and family to get a reduced sentence. In the courtroom, he is a fly in the ointment, and a pain in the judge's rear end. As his own attorney, he makes procedural and other mistakes the defense attorney's are uncomfortable with. While most of the other mobsters are okay with Jackie, Alex Rocco (as Nick Calabrese, Don of the Lucchese family) is brusque, rude, and downright condescending to him, accusing him of selling out for a deal. Throughout the trial, Vinnie remains solid, and is supported by Ben Klandis (played by Peter Dinklage). Dinklage gives an amazing performance as the dwarf attorney who is surprisingly adept at presenting his case. Ron Silver is prefect as the judge, showing only as much emotion as he needs, and trying to be fair in his rulings. Linus Roache shows us the firm, determined persona we were used to when he took over for Jack McCoy in the final seasons of Law and Order, and this was not his first time working with Vin. They were previously together in The Chronicles of Riddick. Annabella Sciorra and Alexa Palladino are also excellent in their roles as Jackie's wife and daughter. And Hat's Off to the casting department for presenting us with a list of Italian names not seen since the Godfather films. I guess they felt you had to be Italian to understand what was up at the time. Rated R for language and some brief but brutal violence, this may not be a film for the family, but it is definitely one for Vin fans and anyone who likes an unpretentious legal docudrama. Collectible? Depends on your taste.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Live Free or Die Hard - 2007

Live Free or Die Hard - 2007


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Dune Entertainment, Ingenious Film Partners


Directed by Len Wiseman


Cast:


Story: The FBI cyber security section is suddenly hacked. It is a momentary glitch, but the deputy director wants to find out what happened, so he tells his agents to get every known hacker capable of doing this and bring them in for questioning. Since they are spread out and the FBI lacks some local resources to bring them all in, the enlist the help of local agencies, including the NYPD. John McClane is in Rutgers, checking up on his daughter, who is currently not speaking with him (sort of a pattern with John and women in general), when he gets the call to go pick up young Matthew Farrell, a hacker in the general area. When he gets to Farrell's apartment, they are about to leave when gunfire erupts, aimed at Farrell. John manages to kill three of the bad guys and escape with Farrell, and heads to Washington DC to deliver the young hacker. When he gets there, he finds the FBI building has been evacuated due to an Anthrax alarm, and everything in the country run by computer is going haywire. They soon discover the source of the disaster, a disgruntled federal employee who has a plan to destroy the entire US monetary system as his revenge for his dismissal. Once again, John McClane must save the day using only his wits and the help of two unlikely sources, a computer hacker named Matt, and an underground cyberwarrior code named Warlock.

Review: Twelve years have passed and the franchise proves just as viable as it ever was. Talk about enduring star quality. Bruce Willis is just as flippant and entertaining as he was in Die Hard, still a cop, still in New York (although there was that brief stint in LA), and still fighting with the women in his family, this time with little Lucy Generro, who has grown into a very attractive young lady. The symmetry of the characters is perfect, and Wiseman certainly knew and understood the passion of the Die Hard films (at his age, he probably grew up watching them, he was 15 when the original came out). Justin Long portrays the cyber nerd Matt Farrell, and he does an excellent job in recreating the foil for McClane's character. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was certainly the right actress to portray McClane's daughter, as feisty and abrupt in the character as Willis. Timothy Olyphant is exceptional as the cyber genius whose knowledge of the computer systems in the government gives him the background to disrupt a nation. Cliff Curtis is great as the FBI Deputy Director of Cyber Security, and adds a wonderful facet to an otherwise typical role as the law enforcement officer who always seems to be at odds with McClane. Since John is more proactive, he is always a step behind, but at least he reacts more quickly once he sees the problem. The plot moves at lightning speed in this latest (last?) installment of the franchise, and the action is exceptional. Rated PG-13 for violence and a brief sexual situation, this film is a wild ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Absolutely collectible for the set, and for any fan of great action films.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Die Hard with a Vengeance - 1995

Die Hard with a Vengeance - 1995


Cinergi Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


Directed by John McTiernan


Cast:


Story: A peaceful morning in New York City. That is until a bomb explodes and takes out a department store along the entire block, causing cars to be thrown into each other and lots of really pissed off New Yorkers. At headquarters, police are trying to coordinate clean up efforts when they get a call from “Simon” who wants to speak with John McClane. Our hero is currently on suspension, but not today. “Simon” informs Inspector Cobb if McClane is not available to play a game of Simon Says with him, he will continue to set off bombs in New York City. They locate McClane, attempt to sober him up, and leave him in the middle of Harlem for the first part of Simon's game. He is to stand in the middle of Harlem wearing a sandwich board and his underwear with the message “I Hate Niggers” on the board. Zeus Carver, a shop owner across the street from where he has been dropped, sees McClane and attempts to get him off the street before local black thugs notice the sign. An altercation does take place, but the two manage to commandeer a taxi and head back to police headquarters, where Simon informs them via telephone they will both be required to complete his game. Simon runs McClane and Carver all over town, apparently for no reason until the FBI tells McClane this is none other than Simon Gruber, the brother of Hans Gruber who McClane dropped off the Nakatomi tower. John figures this is a ruse, and works with the police and Zeus to thwart their efforts.

Review: YEAH! John McTiernan back at the helm. Not that Renny did a horrible job, but this Die Hard comes back to the energy level of the original. John and Holly are heading toward their inevitable divorce, John is back in New York, and now we introduce a couple of wild cards into the mix. Samuel L. Jackson plays Zeus Carver, a businessman in Harlem who does not like white people. Jeremy Irons plays Simon Gruber, the brother of Hans using his desire to take revenge on McClane as an elaborate diversion from his real goal, a robbery of international proportions. Graham Greene and Colleen Camp add a nice flair with their roles, and Bruce gives us an interesting perspective on McClane's development. Like the previous two films, the action is non stop and the good guys prevail, but it is never that simple. There is always one more thing to do. Rated R for violence, language, and a brief passionate encounter. Collectible if you love Willis or just want to have the entire set.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder - 1990

Die Hard 2: Die Harder - 1990


Gordon Company, Silver Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


Directed by Renny Harlin


Cast:


Story: John McClane is at another airport on Christmas Eve, but this time he's picking up his wife, Holly, as she is flying in. This time it's Dulles in Washington D.C., where Holly's parents live. Apparently John is now sporting an LAPD badge, so we can safely assume he has moved to LA to be near Holly as she continues her career with the Nakatomi corporation. Alas, John can't turn off the cop instinct and notices something amiss as he is waiting in the lounge...three men wearing military boots and acting suspiciously. He follows two of them discretely, but they enter a restricted area and he has a janitorial worker open the door and sends him for the airport police. As he approaches the two men who are busy doing something to a panel, they begin shooting, and a battle ensues, one that leaves one of the men dead while the other escapes. The airport police are treating this like a random luggage thief incident, but McClane uses a ink pad and gets the prints off the dead guy. He faxes the prints to Sgt. Powell in LA and asks him to run them. Powell reports back a little later, this guy is dead. Actually, the government says he died two years ago in a helicopter crash. So how was he alive and in the airport? McClane reports his information to the airport police Captain and the supervisor, Mr. Trudeau, but just as Trudeau orders Lorenzo to bring in all his shift commanders, the runway lights begin to go down, systems throughout the control tower shut down, and an ominous voice on the FAA frequency hot line warns them they are in control, and they have two minutes to tell their planes to circle at the outer marker. Col. Stuart and his crack squad of commandos have taken over the airport to free an inbound military general, and John McClane must once again save the day!

Review: At first, I thought the producers had lost their minds. Renny Harlin instead of John McTiernan on a Die Hard? But this one is as good as the first, if not better. Bruce Willis reprises his role as the indestructable John McClane, and like Al says, the insurance companies are getting nervous. This time McClane is up against a top notch crew of black ops commandos who have figured out every angle, except McClane. John is the fly in the ointment, and he does his best to counter every move the commandos make. The action scenes are exceptional, and the actors are perfectly cast. William Atherton and Bonnie Bedelia reprise their roles as well, and their interaction on the plane while John fights the bad guys on the ground adds an additional tension to the film that peaks your interest from the start. Dennis Franz as the irascible airport police chief compliments Fred Dalton Thompson as his boss. John Amos as the changeling Army major sent to foil Col. Stuart is priceless, and even plays up with McClane's character. Marvin the janitor is a perfect substitute for Argyle the limo driver, and the entire film proceeds with the pace and tempo that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what the heck is going to happen next. Rated R for violence, brief nudity, and a whole lot of language. Definitely collectible as #2 of the set of four.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Die Hard - 1988

Die Hard - 1988


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Gordon Company, Lawrence Gordon Productions


Directed by John McTiernan


Cast:


Story: John McClane, a New York cop, lands at LAX to begin a Christmas vacation with his estranged family. His wife, Holly, works for the Nakatomi Corporation, a hugely successful Japanese company in the final stages of completing their 35 story skyscraper in LA. Argyle, a limo driver, takes John to the building, where he discovers his wife is still listed under her maiden name. He arrives by elevator to the 30th floor, where he is greeted by Mr. Takagi, Holly's boss. Unknown to all, a group of terrorists has arrived in the building as well, and they systematically cut all connections to the outside world. Hans Gruber and his band of thugs enter the party and immediately take everyone hostage, except John McClane, who manages to escape to another part of the building. He singlehandedly attempts to thwart the terrorists / thieves through a battle of attrition, and the results are one of the strangest Christmas stories of all time.

Review: Okay, so who am I to argue with success? Obviously this franchise has proven immensely popular, given the further proliferation of Die Hards 2, 3, & 4. John McClane is Willis' most popular character, and a natural extension of his role in the television series Moonlighting with Cybil Sheppard. McClane is a street cop, a no-nonsense, shoot first ask questions later police officer who apparently gets the job done in the style of Dirty Harry. Alan Rickman is exceptional as Hans Gruber, the ex-terrorist with aspirations of becoming wealthy no matter how many lives are lost. As in most McTiernan action films, there is little background or lead in, just enough to let you know who the players are, and the action quickly starts and barely pauses. Bonnie Bedelia is excellent in her role as Holly Gennero, the top executive with people skills and a sense for reasonable control. She is the perfect executive who thinks of her people first and attempts to maintain calm under duress. Alexander Godunov plays Karl, the hot-headed terrorist on a mission to kill McClane for killing his brother. While no one will ever consider the Die Hards as Oscar worthy films, they are fun and exciting, and definitely collectible. Rated R for some brief nudity, drug use, and a whole lot of gratuitous violence. Like Vin said in xXx, “....think Playstation...Blow shit up!”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tears of the Sun - 2003

Tears of the Sun - 2003


Cheyenne Enterprises, Michael Lobell Productions, Revolution Studios


Directed by Antoine Fuqua


Cast:


Story: A military coup in Nigeria is forcing the emergency evacuation of American citizens. Navy SEALS are being used to extract the civilians, and Lt. A. K. Waters' crew has just landed on the aircraft carrier after completing one mission to be told they are going to be sent back in. After getting a hot meal and packing for a three day assignment, they are briefed by Captain Rhodes. They will be dropped in by HALO (High Altitude, Low Oxygen) where they will locate and extract an American doctor and her staff. Once at the location, they find the doctor is not willing to leave without her patients. To appease the doctor and get her moving, he tells her only the ambulatory patients can come and they must leave immediately. Her staff, a priest and two nuns, decide to remain with the patients who cannot be moved. When they reach the extraction site, it is obvious there is not enough room in the helicopters for all the people, and the doctor is forced onto the helicopter. As they are flying away, the pass over the hospital they have just come from....the troops have slaughtered everyone. Lt. Waters tells the pilot to turn around, and commits his team to escorting the patients and the doctor to the border of Cameroon, but is unaware there is a traitor in among the patients who is transmitting their location to the rebels.

Review: While this is a work of fiction, there is a strong and powerful political message here. Bruce Willis took a chance and co-produced via Cheyenne Enterprises, and the film was not financially successful. Perhaps the message of the film was one no one wanted to hear, but I applaud Willis for making it, and Fuqua for the film's honesty and integrity. If you pick up the Special Edition DVD, take the time to look at the special features and you will understand what I mean. The extras are from Africa, real people who have lived through the atrocities shown. Because of that, and perhaps because many of these fine actors were drawn in to the plight of the people, this film presents an authenticity seldom seen in a war film. The “SEALs” in the film were trained by Harry Humphries, a former SEAL and Vietnam Veteran, for two weeks to both fight and think like SEALs for the purposes of the film, and carried actual packs and gear during the filming. While Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci obviously head the cast, this is in every sense an “ensemble” cast and it shows. Cole Hauser, Nick Chinlund and the other members of the SEAL team never once break character, and present the personalities needed with a quiet elegance that you feel through the screen. One significant aspect of Fuqua's directing is clear, this is not a problem of race or location, but of decency. A problem that exists today. The recent attention to KONY has made that apparent, and President Obama has pledged to see to that problem. We shall see. Rated R for violence, atrocities, and language, this film is one for the adults in the house with a strong stomach. Collectible as one of Willis' finest films, and for anyone who appreciates a good war film.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Babylon A.D. - 2008

Babylon A.D. - 2008


Babylon, MNP Entreprise, Studio Canal


Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz


Cast:


Story: Toorup, a free-lance mercenary living in Russia, is approached by an underworld boss (who travels in an armored personnel carrier with tanks and several squadrons of bodyguards) to deliver a package to New York. This is particularly important for Toorop because it will provide him with the opportunity to return to the United States. He is currently on the terrorist watch list and can not gain admission. The package turns out to be a young woman, Aurora, who has lived her entire life in the oldest, most isolated convent on the planet. She is accompanied by Sister Rebecca, her teacher, surrogate mother, and protector. As they travel, Toorup learns the girl possesses unusual powers. As they are moving forward through a throng of people to board a train, she suddenly begins screaming and running the opposite direction, just before a bomb explodes. Other incidents along the way begin to make Toorup suspicious of exactly who or what she is. When they reach New York, the truth is revealed.

Review: Vin Diesel returns to the action film genre in this interesting post war look at the world where governments are no longer in control. Vin is a mercenary for hire, ready to retire and call it quits, but unable to return to the US. Gerard Depardieu plays an interesting role as Gorsky, the stereotypical Russian mob boss whose only interest is the base things in life and what he can do to have them. Michelle Yeoh gives a formidable performance as Sister Rebecca, and I am certain she was chosen for her obvious skills as both actress and karate master. The film moves well, has the right amount of tension between the players, and never deviates from the plot, which in itself is basic. The scenery and graphics are good, but you can tell the director is not getting his way with the film. Apparently, there were a lot of disagreements between the director and the studio, and the infighting is obvious when you watch the film and listen to the dialog. Hat's off to Vin Diesel, who turned down the lead in “Hitman” to be in this film. Talk about bad choices, but how can you know? Rated PG-13, which in this case is so wrong for a movie of this type, the violence never rises above the level of a video game, so the kids are pretty safe, and the language, well, they've heard it before. Personally I would love to see this one remade in about 10 years with the director being in charge. Give it David Twohy, he'd know what to do with it. A good rental, not a collectible. /p>

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

xXx - 2002

xXx - 2002


Revolution Studios, Original Film


Directed by Rob Cohen


Cast:


Story: The NSA is trying to infiltrate a very nasty group of criminals in the Czech Republic, but every time they send in an agent, he is identified and killed. Call in Augustus Gibbons, and his plan to recruit new talent from outside the agency...way outside. They go through an elaborate testing process and the winner is: Xander Cage. Xander is reluctant, to say the least. “Do I look like a fan of Law Enforcement?!”, but Gibbons encourages him to take the assignment or spend the rest of his life in prison. He flys to Prague, where the local authorities don't want him there any more than he wants to be there, and meets up with the leader of Anarchy 99, a group of former Russian soldiers with a plan to eliminate the governments of the world and create total anarchy. His mission? Stop them at all costs.

Review: Triple X, is an updated version of James Bond battling the evil forces of SMERSH or SPECTRE or whatever group of baddies are in the mix at the time. Vin's character, the extreme sport athlete known as Xander Cage, is the ideal candidate for this type of assignment. He's agile, quick on his feet, and knows how to deal with the counter culture. Some people have said in reviews he is not “acting” in this film, but they are probably the same folks who feel that Anthony Hopkins is just another pretentious Englishman. Samuel L. Jackson does an excellent job of protraying the pragmatic NSA operative who realizes the world is changing, even if his superiors do not. Marton Csokas (and the rest of his mob) are all two dimensional, stereotypical bad guys, and the good guys are the same...which is exactly what they needed to be for this film. Asia Argento may never win an academy award, but she rises to the task in xXx portraying Yelena, the forgotton FSB agent who is trying to survive. The real treats in the film are the inclusion of Danny Trejo as the Columbian drug lord and Michael Roof as Toby Lee Shavers, the “Q” of the NSA who has only two loves, making impossible weapons and chasing (unsuccessfully) hot women, of which there are plenty in this film. In short, this is an incredibly adept and insightful parody of the Bond genre that has been railroaded as an attempt at a serious action film. And that is particularly disturbing considering how often we use the letter X to denote eXtreme. When you watch this film, enjoy it for what it is, a flight of fantasy taken to the Extreme. Rated PG-13 for violence and language and some innuendo, the teens in the house ought to enjoy this as much as anyone who likes Bond genre films. If you are a collector of spy films, this is a must have.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Chronicles of Riddick - 2004

The Chronicles of Riddick - 2004


Universal Pictures, Radar Pictures, One Race Productions


Directed by David Twohy


Cast:


Story: Riddick, the escaped murderer from the movie Pitch Black, is being pursued by mercenaries on an isolated planet. He avoids their attempt to capture him and instead strands the survivors on the planet to pursue the man who sent them: the Imam, one of the two others to escape the dark planet. When he finds him, he learns of the Necromancers, a race of conquerors traveling across the universe to convert all humanity to their faith. Riddick learns he is from the planet Furya, a planet already destroyed by the Necromancers. At first, Riddick is unwilling to get involved, but soon it becomes apparent he must fight or die. He allows himself to be captured by Mercs to rescue the girl Jack, now known as Kyra, from a maximum security prison, then returns to the planet to face the Lord Marshal to test their creedo: “You Keep What You Kill”.

Review: Once again Vin Diesel brings to life the vicious, calculating anti-hero Riddick, the convict who prefers to kill instead of negotiate. Riddick is living a life of arduous survival, preferring the isolation of the frozen planet to the company of humans. When he learns the Imam is the man who has set the bounty for him, he journeys to discover why. Keith David recreates the Imam from Pitch Black as if he had never left the role, and introduces us to Aereon, the elemental being in the form of Judi Dench, whose powerful acting and presence adds both drama and authenticity to the film. Nick Chinlund excels in a role custom made for him, and Colm Feore is magnificent as the Lord Marshal, the holy half-dead who has seen the Underverse. Linus Roache, in one of two films he has worked on with Diesel (the other, Find Me Guilty, perhaps led to his role as the Assistant DA on Law and Order), and while his role is not as big as I would have liked, his presence and eloquence as the Purifier adds significantly to the film. Karl Urban, who has appeared in other fantasy roles (Priest, Star Trek), presents a more powerful, controlled soldier of the faith, while Thandie Newton as his ambitious wife provides the right balance to the struggle for power within any authoritarian regime. Alexa Davalos is excellent as Kyra, defiant and deadly to the last. Even the extended version is rated PG-13 for language and violence, but little sexual content. Since Vin will be recreating Riddick in a third film next year, I would say this is a collectible if you are a fan of the first two, or just a fan of good science fiction.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pitch Black - 2000

Pitch Black - 2000


Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Interscope Communications


Directed by David Twohy


Cast:


Story: A space freighter is making a long haul, the crew and passengers in suspended animation, when disaster strikes. A meteor shower sends bullet sized fragments through the hull, waking the crew, or what's left of them. The captain is dead before he even leaves his chamber, and the second officer and docking pilot have to think fast to save their lives and the lives of the passengers. When it is over, only the docking pilot and a handful of passengers remain alive, and they are on a hostile planet with no apparent foliage or water, and three suns. One of the passengers is a murder on his way back to prison, the enigmatic Richard B. Riddick, another the bounty hunter bringing him back to prison. Riddick escapes his bonds and flees the company, but the others are more concerned with finding water and trying to find shelter. Zeke has taken upon himself the duty of burying the corpses they can find, but when he does he is attacked and killed by something. The blame immediately falls on Riddick, but when he is captured he denies killing Zeke. Soon the castaways discover a deserted mining camp with a shuttle they might be able to use for escape, but they also discover a horrifying secret. The planet is inhabited by creatures who can only hunt in darkness...and the planet is about to go into total eclipse.

Review: The plot in this film is pretty straight forward, and certainly not original in the scheme of science fiction. The characters are somewhat predictable, with the Imam leading and caring for his three teenaged followers on a great Hadj to New Mecca, the docking pilot having her first “command” thrust upon her, the bounty hunter a junkie hooked on pain killers, the entrepreneur who cares more about his cargo that the situation, a kid traveling alone, a provocatively beautiful woman who is apparently traveling for work, and a hard core killer with eyes that glow and the ability to see in the dark. Okay, so that last character isn't so predictable. As a matter of fact, Vin Diesel portrays a thinking killer who displays none of the classic psychotic behaviors we are used to in a “villain”. Instead, Riddick is a cold, calculating man who carefully reads the people around him. Radha Mitchell is excellent in her role, letting the inexperience of command shake her confidence while she attempts to lead the group into the right decisions. Keith David is the man of God, the man who always finds the hope in the situation and tries to encourage others to do the same. Cole Hauser is a perfect sociopath, coldly deciding who should be sacrificed as long as he survives. The film moves at a good pace, makes one or two logical flaws in the plot, but overall entertains and apparently creates a memorable character in the form of Riddick, who we see next in The Chronicles of Riddick, our next review. Rated R for violence and gore, and language, this film is collectible for Vin Diesel fans and anyone who likes good science fiction.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Shining - 1980

The Shining - 1980


Warner Bros. Pictures, Hawk Films, Peregrine


Directed by Stanley Kubrick


MY 100TH POST!
Cast:


Story: Jack Torrance is a writer looking for a place where he can be alone to work on his novel. The Overlook hotel seems like the ideal location. The Overlook is located high in the mountains in Colorado, and when the winter snows set in, the roads become impassable. The hotel ownership hires one man to stay for the winter, doing odd repairs and rotating the heat to prevent mother nature from taking a hold while the place is unoccupied. But when Jack, his wife Wendy, and their son Danny move in, strange things begin to happen. Danny Torrance has some psychic powers, and the spirits at the Overlook are determined to contact him and his folks to make them permanent guests of the Overlook.

Review: Combine director Stanley Kubrick with writer Stephen King and the acting talents of Jack Nicholson and Joe Turkel, and you have one of the all time classic horror films of the modern age. This thriller is subtle and nearly misleading as we open. Long shots of open highways winding through incredibly beautiful scenery, incredibly appointed rooms with lush beauty, and some small background moments to give you a little insight into the characters. But once the preliminaries are over, the film begins to step up the pace. Little Danny is having visions, as is Jack, and the characters are portrayed like all the characters in King's books...unremarkable until affected by the evil that is the Overlook. Nicholson is incredibly powerful as Torrance, a man with little moral background, a recovering alcoholic and child abuser who has already injured his son. Slowly but surely he is drawn into the Overlooks plans through the manipulations of Lloyd the Bartender, exceptionally portrayed by Joe Turkel. While Shelly Duvall's character is two dimensional and somewhat weak, she nonetheless manages to pick up the gauntlet of the challenge and we witness a transformation from the weak-willed, battered wife to a mother intent on saving her child. While the MPAA did not have the rating system in place at the time, this film would be an should be rated R for language, brief nudity, and scenes of horror and violence. Definitely collectible, they will be talking about this film for years to come as one of Nicholson and Kubrick's greatest achievements.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Daylight - 1996

Daylight - 1996


Davis Entertainment, Universal Pictures


Directed by Rob Cohen


Cast:


Story: A chain of events leads to an explosion and collapse in a tunnel leading in and out of New York City. The former chief of Emergency Services, Kit Latura, is a driving a limousine at one end of the tunnel and witnesses the initial explosion. As his two passengers are doctors, he hurries them out of the car, then rushes to aid injured people. When he has done all he can at the scene, he hurries off to find the current chief of Emergency Services to lend his expertise and experience, but is rejected because he was let go under questionable circumstances. Seconds later the new chief dies in a collapse, and Latura becomes the leader by default and volunteers to go into the tunnel to aide in rescuing the survivors. Its a one way ticket, with no way to get out once he is there. Once he is there, he must fight to keep the survivors from killing each other and make them work together to survive.

Review: Non-stop action with little lead in or lag, this is one of the best low budget (only $80 million to make) action films in the Stallone arsenal. The first 15 minutes of the film is lead in, and only as much character development as we need. Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy, Heat) is a disgruntled screen writer who has had it with New York. Jay O. Sanders and Karen Young, along with daughter Danielle Harris, are a dysfunctional family recovering from a separation. Throw in a bus load of Juvenile offenders in a Corrections bus (among them Sage Stallone and Renoly Santiago), a tunnel guard (Stan Shaw) with romantic attachments to a safety observer (Vanessa Bell Calloway), a hot shot extreme sports hero (Viggo Mortensen) trying to make a publicity coup out of the situation, and elderly couple with their dog, and you have the makings of a film with plenty of angst, drama, paranoia and panic. Stallone plays Kit Latura, formerly the head of the EMS division who was fired a few years back when he lost people in a tunnel explosion and collapse. He is a man of principles who immediately assumes personal responsibility for rescuing the survivors. He risks his life to reach them and works with difficulty to keep them together and alive. When the City Engineers begin to dig out the tunnel, allowing the pressure that is keeping the water from rising, he must find a way to keep them alive while trying to decide how to escape. Rated R for death and destruction, this edge of your seat drama has plenty of fine performances to keep the viewers interested. Collectible is a coin toss. If you are a Stallone fan or you like good action films, you might want this one on the shelf.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Soldier - 1998

Soldier - 1998


Warner Bros. Pictures, Morgan Creek Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions


Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson


Cast:


Story: In the not so distant future, soldiers are selected at birth. They are trained, educated, developed and bred to be soldiers, nothing more. They follow orders without question, do as they are told, and are the perfect fighting machines. Todd 3465 is one such soldier under the command of Captain Church. Colonel Mekum appears with the latest batch of soldiers, bred with DNA manipulation to make them superior to the soldiers The new soldiers are pitted against the old soldiers, and under training situations, the new soldiers appear superior. Cain 607 is sent into combat against Todd 3465 and two others and defeats the three soldiers. They believe all three to be dead, but Todd 3465 is simply unconscious. The bodies are given to waste disposal, where they are loaded on a waste freighter and dropped on a waste disposal planet. Todd 3465 manages to survive the drop and finds himself among a group of marooned people who were on their way to the Trinity Moons to colonize there. They have given up on their rescue and have created a sort of life there. Todd learns to interact with the colonists, and comes to realize there is more to life than being a soldier. Colonel Mekum and his soldiers are assigned to a security sweep of the area, and when they land on the planet, they are told to consider the colonists hostiles and to eliminate them. Todd 3465 realizes there is only one way to stop the killing, and that is to kill the soldiers.

Review: Another bleak look at the future of mankind. But this time, it isn't the machines we have to worry about, its us. Kurt Russell and Jason Scott Lee are both excellent in this minimalist drama about future soldiers who have no other interests than being soldiers. Neither have many lines, since soldiers only speak when they are spoken to. So it comes down to their ability to convey their characters with expression, which is not an easy thing to do. But they both manage to pull it off nicely. Gary Busey is perfect as the “Old School” captain in opposition to Jason Isaacs as the over confident Colonel Mekum. Connie Nielsen and Sean Pertwee do well as the stranded couple trying to raise their son and make a life on a hostile and harsh planet. Overall, the film has the right feel and the right depth of scientific development. No phaser rifles, but lots of oversized heavy weapons and machinery. The story development is interesting, and there are plenty of scenes where Todd is exposed to the lives of the colonists, a world he is unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in. Rated R for violence and language, the younger teens should be able to watch this without a lot of concerns.

Footloose - 2011

Footloose - 2011


Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Dylan Sellers Productions


Directed by Craig Brewer


Cast:


Story:This is an homage to the classic 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, and Dianne Weist. The story hasn't changed. A tragic accident takes the lives of five teenagers coming home from a senior dance, one of them the minister's son. The small southern Presbyterian town is so shocked and appalled it outlaws dancing and other types of parties, and places curfews in effect in an effort to protect the teens from themselves. Three years later, Ren MacCormick moves to the town after losing his mother to leukemia, and quickly learns about the restrictions. His Uncle Wes is owns a used car lot in the town, and realizes his nephew will need an advocate in order to get along with the local sheriff and minister. Ren makes friends quickly, but he soon learns the minister's daughter is heading down a dangerous path with an older race car driver, Chuck Cranston. Ren works to pass a petition around town to withdraw the ordinance banning dancing, and while he does not succeed, he manages to get permission to hold a senior dance in a local cotton mill adjacent to the town.

Review: Footloose is about more than dancing, although Kenny Wormwald certainly can do that. Footloose is a classic tale of tragedy and redemption, about the differences between teens and adults, about the way we see ourselves and others. Craig Brewer has managed to update this classic film without losing one iota of the feel of the original. Kenny Wormwald is excellent as Ren, the out of town boy thrust into the small country town environment. Julianne Hough plays the minister's daughter with a flair that shows some insight into the dynamics of a family dealing with the loss of a child. Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell were perfect choices for the minister and his wife, and Quaid adds a different perspective to the role than Lithgow's original portrayal. Ray McKinnon gives us a new look at his ability to adapt his normally more aggressive character acting to a kinder, gentler advocate, and Kim Dickens provides just the right touch as the aunt. Very appealing were the characters of Willard and Rusty, played by newcomers Miles Teller and Ziah Colon. Filmed in the small town of Acworth, Georgia, the photography and cinematography are excellent. Rated PG-13 for language, sexual content, and some violence and drug use, this is a film, with correct parental supervision, should be viewable by the entire family.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Wolfman - 2010

The Wolfman - 2010


Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Stuber Productions


Directed by Joe Johnston


Cast:


Story: The year is 1891, and a celebrated actor receives a visit from his brother's fiancee to inform him his brother is missing. Lawrence Talbot travels by train to his family's estate, and as he does he is met by a stranger who offers him a gift, a cane with a silver headed wolf for the handle that conceals a dagger within. He refuses and returns to sleep, but when he awakens, the stranger is gone and the cane remains. When he arrives at his father's estate in Blackmoor, he learns his brother's body has been found the day before in a ravine. He views the body, and it is obvious his brother has been mauled by an animal, an animal no one can identify. At first a band of gypsy's are considered the suspects, but when a group of men go to the camp, a vicious attack of the beast leaves several men dead, and Lawrence is seriously wounded. As his wounds miraculously heal, the people of the village are convinced he will become another beast.

Review: Finally! A return to the elements that make up a good old gothic horror film. This homage to the original wolfman films wastes no time in getting to the heart of the story, a werewolf has appeared and is killing men. The pompous men of the town are spouting theories, the brother of the man returns to find the killer of his brother, and the resolution of the film leaves us with both a conclusion and another mystery. The cast is superb. Anthony Hopkins creates an intriguing character in Sir John, with the proper amount of tension played between him and Benecio Del Toro, who plays Lawrence. Emily Blunt is striking in her portrayal of the fiance, Ms. Conliffe, showing the correct Victorian demeanor and just the right levels of emotion. Both Hugo Weaving and Geraldine Chaplin lend an air of mystery and drama in their roles , and the all too brief appearance of Max Von Sydow in the Director's Cut of the film provides the correct level of dynamic mystery to start us off. Collectible of lovers of horror films, and certainly a must see for the older folks who appreciate a well put together film. Rated R appropriately for violence and gore.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Son of No One - 2011

The Son of No One - 2011


Millennium Films, Nu Image Films, Hannibal Pictures


Directed by Dito Montiel


Cast:


Story: Jonathon White, the son of a police officer killed in the line of duty is raised in the Queensboro projects by his grandmother. His life is unbelievable hell, living in the midst of addicts and dealers and child molesters, and he is constantly in fear. In self defense, he kills a junkie who is stealing his grandmother's welfare checks, and when the dealer starts to kick his dog, he pushes him down the stairs and the dealer breaks his neck. Detective Stanford knows the truth, but also knows the circumstances and closes the cases as unsolved. Sixteen years later, he has chosen to join the police force and is assigned to the same precinct as he lived in when he grew up. Captain Mathers is just about to take over from now Captain Stanford, when letters begin to appear in a local paper accusing Stanford of concealing two murders in the projects. Pressure is brought to bear on White, who Mathers' suspects of writing the letters, but to further cover up the crime, Mathers and Stanford plot to kill a childhood friend of White's and frame him for the murders.

Review: When I watched this film, I was impressed with the acting, the plot, and the characters. What I was not impressed with was the film itself. The story is an impressive, courageous look at life in the projects, a place where we house the welfare cheats, drug dealers, and other scum of society in the hopes they will remain in the confines of their own jungle. Channing Tatum's character is a nice white boy growing up in a not-so-nice environment with little hope of surviving from day to day. Al Pacino is the cop who understands what kind of life the child lives, and when he sees the desperation of his existence, he covers the murders to protect the child. Ray Liotta is the personified vision of what most people believe NYPD is all about, a warden in the asylum, worried about nothing more than keeping his cops and his reputation alive. If the story had been told from front to back instead of jerking us back and forth in time, I think it would have merited a release to the big screen here in the US. As it is, the distributor was right in releasing this film in the overseas market and bringing it to the states in DVD release. With the exception of Katie Holmes, whose performance lacks the depth of emotion a police wife should have, the cast does an admirable job, and this film is worth a look. Rated R for violence, language, and a disturbing sex scene, this film is not collectible, and is certainly a second tier rental.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Moneyball - 2011

Moneyball - 2011


Columbia Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Michael De Luca Productions


Directed by Bennett Miller


Cast:


Story: Based on the book “Moneyball, the Art of Winning an Unfair Game”, this film gives us insight into the predicament of Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland “A's”. In 2002, the A's are the lowest funded ball team in professional baseball, and they are about to lose their top three players to free agency. Billy Beane is at wits end, and is meeting with various ball clubs to arrange player trades when he runs into Peter Brand in a meeting with the Cleveland Indians. Brand is a young, rotund man just out of Yale with a degree in economics who has developed a system for analyzing player stats that goes against everything in use at the time. When Billy questions him on his methods, he sees a way to build a championship team without the huge contracts that are awarded to star players. Brand's method is simple, he looks at the probability that a player can get on base, and by doing so, increase the odds he will score. While Beane fails to get the Championship with the team he builds, they do succeed in winning 20 games in a row, a record never before achieved in professional baseball.

Review: Here is a sports film that talks about more than just the players. Brad Pitt gives us a stellar performance as Billy Beane, a General Manager who started out as a player who never reached his potential. He gives us not only insight into the professional life of Billy Beane, but the man himself. We learn he is divorced, involved in his daughter's life, and trying to remain civil with his ex's new partner. He has ideas that he can't support in the accepted method, but with his reputation, he has a lot of leeway with the owner, and when he discovers Phillip Brand (Jonah Hill), he sees a way to make the kind of team that has the potential to win a championship. Jonah Hill is excellent as Brand, developing his character from the fresh out of college statistician with little self confidence to the man who learns to accept the responsibilities of management. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is strong as Manager Art Howe, but I get the feeling there are missing scenes because we just don't get enough of him in the film. Kerris Dorsey is impressive in the role of Casey Beane, and also co-wrote the song “The Show” and performs it for us in a touching scene where Billy is buying his daughter a guitar. For baseball fans, this is a movie about a pivotal moment in baseball history. For Brad Pitt fans, this is a chance to see Brad in a role that doesn't involve spies, cons, wars, and explosions. For the rest of us, this is a film to watch and enjoy. Rated PG-13 for a few scenes with harsh language, I'd recommend it for the entire family. Collectible for sports fans and lovers of good “slice of life” films.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

J. Edgar - 2011

J. Edgar - 2011


Imagine Entertainment, Malpaso Productions, Wintergreen Productions


Directed by Clint Eastwood


Cast:


Story:In this frank and sometimes dark expose, Clint Eastwood directs a formidable cast in the biography of John Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For forty eight years, he was the undisputed power behind the power, the man who supposedly had files on everyone and knew everyone's secrets. This film explores the possible personal life and circumstances of the man, and shows J. Edgar Hoover as a man with many forces pulling on his life. He was a troubled man, to be sure, a man whose personal life was dominated by his mother, Anna Marie, and his sense of patriotism and commitment to making Americans safe. The film explores his relationships with his mother, his long-time assistant director and companion, Clyde Tolson, and his ever vigilant and loyal Secretary, Helen Gandy. Throughout the film, we are given glimpses of his actions which may or may not have been prompted by his sense of duty to the country, and we are ultimately left to decide for ourselves who J. Edgar Hoover really was.

Review: This film reveals not only the persona of J. Edgar, but of Clint Eastwood as well. As in all of his recent films, we are not offered a conclusion. We are instead given a set of facts, circumstances, and theories, and left to decide the matter for ourselves. The film itself is well presented and the cast is nothing short of formidable. Leonardo DiCaprio creates the impression of growth and personality, showing us the changes from Hoover's past and how they are influenced by his mother and his friends, which are few. The allusion of homosexuality is dealt with in a tasteful and sensitive manner, and again allows us to draw our own conclusions concerning his relationship with his assistant director and companion, Clyde Tolson. Armie Hammer plays his role with sensitivity and passion, as does Naomi Watts. As Helen Gandy, her obvious devotion to Hoover is clear. The remaining cast is incidental, although Jeffrey Donovan gives us another glimpse into his abilities with a flawless performance as Robert Kennedy. At the end, I am left with the impression that Hoover's life was sad and personally unfulfilled, but you'll have to see it yourself to draw your own conclusions. Rated R for subject matter and language, this film is collectible for lovers of Eastwood films, and anyone who enjoys a serious biography.