Emma only knows how to add spice to her life in one way… by squirting it from a bottle of hot sauce. The rest of her life is cushy but bland: scrambled egg whites, decaffeinated coffee and her husband, Ray. She’s had enough and runs away from home. Her estranged son, Elliot, finds her lurking outside his restaurant with suitcase in hand. They try to start over again as mother and son in this odd-couple living situation. But she’s old-fashioned. He’s gay. Between them are years of awkward moments and unspoken tensions. Feeling lonely, Emma accidentally befriends the lady next door who’s so eccentric that Emma’s way over her head. Meanwhile, a passionate encounter with a man in a bar turns Elliot’s fear of commitment on its head. With dumplings, dessert, whiskey, and even Ecstasy in front of them, will they give into their indulgences? And can mother and son reconcile while struggling to discover their own appetites for life?
Outstanding performances from Sharon Omi and Teddy Chen Culver as Mom and Son – who have no idea how to communicate with each other. Mom leaves Dad (because they don’t know how to communicate with each other) moves in with Son and wackiness happens. Nicole Sullivan is the free spirited next door neighbor who steals every scene she is in. David Au’s writing is brilliant and Nicole’s comedic delivery and timing is perfect. George Takai makes a wonderful appearance and there are some dumplings thrown in the mix. This is a fabulous, fun, family film with food and everyone should see it. An absolutely charming film! It works on so many levels – as a comedy and as a heartfelt film about a mother coming to know and understand her son. The ensemble is very good, including a great appearance by the legendary George Takei at the end. All the characters are richly drawn, including a neighbor who could be a stock character but turns our to be excellent comic relief.
I would liken this film to the Academy Award nominated, “The Kids Are All Right”. Both films have LGBT Characters, but in my opinion they area not LGBT Films, but rather they are simply “films”. No need to define or label these films for one audience or another, rather these are films for all audiences. Both films effectively speak to the human condition, including but not limited to the desire to be loved, projecting our issues onto others around us, parents letting go of their children, coming to terms with our sexuality, and overall family dynamics. In the end, no matter where we are in life, there are always new opportunities to continue to learn and grow, but only if we are open to overcoming our fear and challenging ourselves. In the meantime, we can all win by being a little less critical on ourselves and others around us. We are each on our own path of self-awareness, facing our own battles, and doing the best that we can with what we have been given.
Welcome to Nicolas Cages’ latest trainwreck. American imports with bad accents in a Canadian production with Chinese money. There have been times, many times that Hollywood has proved itself that making a Chinese movie is not one of their strong point. To begin with, the story has to be a believable one. The Templar war was during 12th to 13th century, which was during the Mongol time and there was no power struggle in China because they simply have been annihilated by the Mongol power. That’s the first mistake. Second mistake is the equipment. Chinese army or warriors never use a broadsword. They used slim sword and sabre. The king’s guards uniform is very similar to that of the Templar. The story moves around two soldiers of Crusade, played by Hayden Christensen and Nicholas Cage, who come to China for redemption. They are inevitably involved in the political struggle when the royal heir is hunted by usurpers. The plot is common for Chinese movie, and probably would’ve been better if the movie turned full kung-fu flick as this bland westernization version only makes everything worse. It doesn’t move in consistent pace nor does it create satisfying conclusion.
With poor acting, awkward usage of eastern culture and forced plot, Outcast is already mediocre enough, but one thing that truly sinks it is the camera work. The points of view are always hindered by random objects, tilted in strange diagonal position, excessively close-up, annoying shaky, and sometimes the combination of all. That’s for simple scene like a conversation, for combat sequences, Outcast is nearly incomprehensible.
Hayden Christensen as the main antagonist is uninspiring. After Star Wars it’s probably better not to give him moody character who inexplicably has another princess as love interest. He delivers lines in flat overused tone and just looks very detached. However, he’s still better than Nicholas Cage who, by the gods, is simply drunk, grumpy and has terrible unknown accent. It’s just painful to watch, at least Christensen can seem believable enough, Cage is just him in bad wig, struggling to make something resembling acting.
It’s such a shame because the script has a few good dialogues. Liu Fiyei as Lian, the princess and Andy On as Shing, the antagonist, play their roles quite well and deliver some decent scenes. Andy On was great in Once Upon a Time In Shanghai, he’s really underutilized here. Furthermore, the movie is shot entirely on English which really diminishes immersion. Whenever the movie looks like it’s about to pick up, the cinematography ruins it. Everything is wobbly, out of focus and edited in choppy manner. There’s no merit on having these overly complicated shots for trivial scenes and it certainly ruin any tension on fight scenes.
That old saying about first impressions being the most lasting? Well, it certainly holds true with . In all aspects, “Falcon Rising” is the very definition of a B picture – low budget, predictable plot, second tier actors, with the exception of a popular leading star, yet a generic star at the very best. It’s a straightforward vengeance tale with no other ambition than to entertain, and entertain it does in copious amounts along with indulging us with a tough-as-nails leading action hero to root for till the very end.
That said, it has something. And that something is evident in its opening minutes, when the Director astutely pans on the close-up of a hand dropping bullets into shot glasses, and then pouring whiskey over them. Then the camera shows the man with the hand drinking that high-caliber cocktail, after which he spits the bullets out, loads a couple into a revolver, and plays some Russian roulette. The audience is also given glimpses of our hero, John Falcon Chapman’s PTSD- induced flashbacks that he suffers from the carnage witnessed in military combat. Shortly afterward, finding himself in the middle of a convenience store robbery, he invites a robber to shoot him. Demands it, in fact. “You either shoot me, or stop wastin’ my time,” he says, and then proceeds to beat the guy silly. Clearly a tormented soul here. That friends, is an opening, especially when this particular tormented soul is played with the charisma and conviction that star Michael Jai White brings to the role. In fact, it’s reminiscent of the wild-eyed conviction Mel Gibson brought to a similar opening situation in the first “Lethal Weapon” movie. Crazed charisma, grabs the attention every time.
Thus grabbed, one is willing to follow White’s character, a muscled wedge of a man with a bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq, to the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where his social worker sister (Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter) has been beaten and left for dead by unsavory characters. Falcon flies to Rio, calling in help from an old war buddy (Neal McDonough) who works there in the U.S. consulate. Director, Barbarash thrusts us into the chaotic and colorful atmosphere of the sprawling favela (slums) in Sau Palo, where Falcon begins his own investigation into his sister’s attack, asking uncomfortable questions in the favela, and uncovering a corrupt in the city’s seedy underbelly that includes a world of drugs, the sex trade, corrupt cops, and organized crime syndicates battling for control. “Falcon Rising” is a welcome throwback to 1980s action films, with strong men at the center going up alone against an unambiguously evil foe – a Japanese Yakuza outfit in this case. In colorful Brazilian surroundings, White’s character, a deadly martial artist, brings acres of pain to legions of unsavory characters. Nothing new here, but well-directed by Ernie Barbarash, and White’s electrifying performance coupled with some crackling one-liners makes it all seem somehow fresh. “Falcon Rising” is an entertaining film with a thrilling physical performance from its star, Michael Jai White.
Fade in and you will see a different perspective as the camera is filming from the top of a room and you see a naked figure stumble into the room. What happened? You hear other voices coming from the other room and Everly seems prepared for something as she fish out a pistol from the toilet tank. Hayek’s character was certainly talented and lucky enough at the beginning of the film to stand with a gun in a room with 5 or 6 armed men. She shot them all, but only got shot once herself. It’s a definite shoot ‘em up movie, with Salma Hayek in the lead. However, the storyline seemed a bit nonsensical to me. They have a $50,000 bounty on her head, and about every prostitute in the building went to collect. They were stupidly written. Not a single realistic character existed in the entire film.
OK…hmh so in short it is a low budget attempt to create an original violent movie in the category of Kill Bill, Sin City, Machete and the like. Low budget – literally all the movie takes place in one apartment. So low that some scenes were literally acted through phone conversations. Most of the actors are not very good or over-react badly so I assume they did cut corners in the budget there too. Some scenes were pointlessly stupid or gross. Only shock value. Like the scene in which the heroine survived a grenade in the face. Or when her mother was killed. Twice. Or when she takes out a machine gun and start shooting against a sniper that has her locked from 50 meters away. Oh she misses. And yes, the sniper guy then pulls out a grenade launcher and misses her in turn. So now you have a whole movie filmed inside of a apartment with Salma not getting naked but manages to kill about 25 to 30 armed men in the process.
And so it begins, the carnage. In this shoot ‘em up film, you get just that. It doesn’t pretend to be a literal piece but pure action. The gore factor is relative to whatever taste you may have, I didn’t find it too gory but justified in the manner of which the person is taken out. What I found interesting is the fact that the scenes were staged in an apartment. Of course the premise of someone being held against her will is a plausible scenario as this has happened in real life. So, if you can buy the premise, you can buy the bit. Also, the character does not escape without sustaining so spectacular injuries. And with the caged scene, I already had surmised who would come to her rescue. And the masochist was a ridicules bit of stretching, that was my only negative to this bit of escapism, otherwise, just enjoy the ride for what its worth.
This documentary is about the life and career of Manny Pacquiao, probably the most famous Filipino celebrity the world over now. While we in the Philippines idolize him as our “National Fist,” it would be very interesting to hear what other peoples have to say about him. The film was narrated by Liam Neeson. It starts with Manny Pacquiao contemplating on why he boxes. Pacquiao mostly narrates his story in Filipino (with English subtitles). We learn that he joined fishermen when he was a poor boy growing up in Sarangani province. He credited that experience for developing his physical strength. From there, we will meet various people who have influenced his life and career. Manny’s mother Dionisia was restrained and sincere when she talked about his childhood. Too bad that would only be her only part in the film. His wife Jinkee had more participation, talking about their personal life. There was an obvious hesitation in some parts when she was going to say something negative, but that was understandable. Too bad there was no interview with his kids. It would have been good to know how he was as a father.
The bulk of this documentary will of course be about his boxing career. We will meet his uncle Sardo Mejia who taught 12 year old Manny about boxing. His childhood friend Buboy Fernandez was trained by Manny to be his assistant trainer. We will get to learn more about Freddie Roach, his own career, how they met and their present relationship. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and innovative conditioning coach Alex Ariza are also featured prominently. Former managers Rod Nazario and Michael Koncz were not so favorably mentioned. We get to witness the best scenes from Pacquiao’s most memorable fights. There was that 1995 match with a certain Rossel, Manny’s first significant win that started him on his winning path. There was that match vs. Hussein in 2000, the first actual match Jinkee watched live, and she was six months pregnant then. His first match in the US, vs. Ledwaba, which Manny convincingly won despite being a longshot. There were highlights of his matches with Barrera, Morales, Solis, Diaz, Marquez, dela Joya, Hatton (that chilling knockout), Cotto, Margarito (that unprecedented eighth world title), and Bradley (that controversial loss by decision). There was of course mention of the dream match which may never be, that elusive one vs. Floyd Mayweather.
We will also see Manny’s forays into the entertainment scene. There were movies like “Wapak-Man” and “Anak ng Kumander”, which did not exactly get good reviews nor good box office. There was his singing “Imagine” on TV with Will Ferrell. We see inside footage of Manny recording “Sometimes When We Touch” in Capitol Records, with no less than Dan Hill himself coaching him (which I found so funny). There was also a quick montage of his multiple product endorsements locally and abroad, many of which we have not seen before. We will see his career in politics as congressman of the lone district of Sarangani. There were even predictions posed about a possible presidency. There was also footage from a prayer meeting where Manny was the motivational speaker. There were thoughts shared about how these other activities were affecting his boxing career.
I think “Manny” succeeds in its aim to craft a fair character study of a man who came from nothing, who pushed himself to achieve great things for himself and his whole country. This is a very well-made documentary feature, unexpectedly an emotional film which will move many to tears.
I went into this movie nervous about how I was going to review this movie, most people don’t know but I do have a degree in Cyber Security so my major worry was am I going to be able to catch all the hacking references they put in this movie. I shouldn’t have worried. This movie isn’t really a hacking movie, yes there are two hacks at the beginning of this movie you don’t see the code but some make believe this is how pathways work in the digital world that goes on too long that I was getting bored I can just imagine people that don’t really care that much about computing were thinking.
So we get the Chinese who just had one of their reactors hacked pair up with the U.S. due to the U.S. having the same type of hacking happen against them earlier but were able to stop it. So both governments decide to work together to try to figure out who is doing this and why. Oh but wait the Chinese Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) decides they need his old M.I.T college roommate Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who is supposed to be a master hacker but now resides in jail. Which okay it could happen since supposedly part of the code the blackhat ( in case people don’t know black hat is a term meaning a person hacking with malicious intent) is using was co written by Hathaway and Dawai back when they were in college. But the simple fact that afterwards there is very little hacking in this movie or that they really show you. It turns into a detective movie with them trying to track this black hat down, oh and Hathaway goes with them everywhere and sometimes without his mandated U.S. Marshall. There is no reason to have a hacker consultant following or taking point into crime scenes.
Then lets talk about the acting and editing of this movie. This movie is more of a B rated movie than the A rated movie that they try to spin it off as. The editing is bad in this movie from a lot of clip scenes to the pace of this movie is slow. And don’t get me wrong I could understand the slow pacing of this movie if it was more focused on the true aspects of hacking instead of trying to be a gunfight/police drama. Then they make the old Hollywood mistake of the guns never run out of ammo. You never once see or hear a gun empty, you never see the people have clips on them or changing them. Also Hathaway the hacker is not just a hacker but great at hand to hand as well as shooting. And then the dialogue in this movie, not talking about the hacker speak they got most of that correct at least the most I caught, even the coding though I am not a coder looked to be correct but the rest of the dialogue just seemed over the top or just thrown together. I don’t know if I should blame the writers or the way this movie was edited. Oh and then with everything else this movie has added they decided what they really needed was a love story, so when at least you will get some eye candy with Thor/Hathaway out of his clothes for some of this movie. But it is an element that didn’t need to be in this movie.
Spoiler here we get to see really two hacks in this movie and don’t get me wrong these two types of hacks are used a lot and have a lot of success. But the first hack we see is a phishing attack on an NSA Cyber Security person. Hathaway sends the man an email from his supervisor telling him he needs to change his password due to him having dealt with the U.S./Chinese team and the email has a short cut to change his password. Guess what he does? Yep. Clicks the link which happens to be hiding a keylogger in it which grants Hathaway access to the system the team needs to put some information together. Yes phishing is a successful way to get information from users but with all the things that have been happening in the world with unauthorized access and hacking attacks it is very unlikely that an NSA Cyber Security person is going to click on that link. The second attack that they use is a social engineering attack which is always very successful in the world. The use Dawai’s sister who is also Hathaways love interest in the movie to get a guard to attach a thumb drive into his computer which then grants them access to the systems. This I really do not have a problem with it is a good way to get your code into a system and happens a lot.
The Gambler tells the story of Jim Bennett, a college professor with a dangerous and self destructive addiction to gambling at underground casinos in the underbelly of Los Angeles. His addiction soon begins to effect his professional and personal life to severe and deadly consequences. The Gambler features great performances from Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange along with flashy and stylish direction from Rupert Wyatt. Much like the 1974 original, The Gambler is very much so a character study. We see Wahlberg’s Jim Bennett in every scene, and see him make every bet, lose every hand and blow every dollar without shying away from Wahlberg. Sadly, what made the original so cool, is what makes this remake so stale. I’ll explain.
The plot to this movie, overall, was sloppy and honestly pretty stupid. The movie centered itself around this one college professor who is also a gambling addict. He’s suicidal, he’s an asshole, and he is being loaned money from not one, but multiple loan sharks, which he then uses to gamble to try to pay it back, and ends up losing it. This is EASILY the more protagonist that I have ever seen in ANY movie. He screwed himself into a situation, keeps screwing himself further into the situation, and keeps going to try and eventually screw himself out of the conversation. Which is ridiculous. This guy went based on pure luck rather than planning out his strategy to gamble. Now normally, when people gamble, they tend to put a little money in, withhold most of what they have, and pile it on top of that, taking out money as they go along. 9 times out of 10 in this movie, the protagonist went in with a pile of money, turned it into the least amount of chips as possible, and then bets it all at one time. Now, he would get lucky and win, then his money would double. Now, rather than pulling 10,000 of his now 20,000 out, he bets it all again. He would do this, get up to about 80,000, continues to just bet it all, immediately gets screwed over and loses.
Now if that is not bad enough, he is spending this entire movie trying to pay back his loan sharks. He gets ALL of the money to pay back, and then go into a casino, and gambles for hours until he loses every cent of it. I mean what the hell? Who in the right mind seriously does that? I couldn’t like this protagonist because he was just a freaking idiot. The only time I did like was either when he was getting hit in the face, or when he was teaching. Now, the creators of this movie obviously tried, and it shows. It just didn’t work. They tried time and time again to throw in some form of tension. “OH! We will kill you if you don’t get us our money!” Or “OH! Is he going to win this bet?” But honestly, I was never feeling any of this so called “tension” when I don’t care what happens to the main character. I didn’t care if the loan sharks broke every bone in his body. I didn’t care if they killed his new girlfriend, which, is one of his students.
The only part of this movie that I can give credit to is the last loan shark that the protagonist goes to see in this movie. By the way! Another dumb idea. I can only picture the protagonist thinking to himself “Oh man! I am getting screwed by the mob! Let me go see ANOTHER mob boss to get me out of this situation!” Anyways, the last loan shark is no doubt the best, the funniest, and my favorite character in this movie. And I can give a little bit of credit because I can tell that they at least tried to make a good movie. It just didn’t happen. “The Gambler” in general, despite how much they tried, was not a good movie. It is something that I can see people enjoying, but honestly? It’s not worth seeing at all. I can’t recommend this movie to anyone. Don’t bother spending money on this movie.
The Road To Hong Kong has Bob and Bing as ‘Chester Babcock’ and ‘Harry Turner’, con men trying to sell a flying device. During a demonstration, Chester loses his memory. Harry takes him first to an Indian doctor ( an uncredited Peter Sellers reprising his ‘Milionairess’ role in all but name ) and then to a Tibetan monastery. Chester is cured but then accidentally memorises a formula for space navigation, and agents of a mysterious organisation known as ‘The Third Echelon’ are after both of them. Luckily, one such agent is ‘Diane’ ( Joan Collins )…
When I first saw this on television many moons ago, I assumed that Hope and Crosby were spoofing ‘James Bond’. The S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like ‘The Third Echelon’ hides out in an underground lair ( beneath sea level ) accessible through a secret entrance, employs agents in black, roll-neck jumpers ( worn by at least every spy at some point in the ’60’s ) and is led by a ‘Blofeld’-like megalomaniac ( Robert Morley ). Their plan for world domination involves space rockets ( also the premise of ‘Dr.No’, the first Bond movie ). I was surprised to learn that ‘Hong Kong’ actually came out before 007’s debut, meaning that Norman Panama and Melvin Frank beat all those spy spoofs to the punch by a few years. The titles were designed by Maurice Binder, by the way!
Dorothy Lamour is unfairly relegated to a small role ( she’s on screen for no more than five minutes ) while the main female role is given to Joan Collins, despite her having virtually no flair for comedy. Still it was good to see ‘Dottie’ again with the boys. The gags come thick and fast. One is ‘borrowed’ from Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’ – Bob and Bing are flying around in a space capsule and a machine feeds them bananas and milk ( the ship was originally intended to house monkeys ). The Hong Kong setting allows for racial stereotyping which probably would not be allowed now, but the most interesting scene is Chester and Harry’s encounter with Sellers. It is the old guard of comedy handing over the baton to the new. Allegedly they tried to delete it as they felt the ex-Goon to be upstaging them.
Loads of British faces on view – Dave King ( as a Chinese restaurant owner ), Roger Delgado ( later to play ‘The Master’ in ‘Dr.Who’ ), Walter Gotell ( ‘General Gogol’ of the Bond movies ), Felix Aylmer, and a fleeting appearance from David Niven! The ending has our heroes stranded on an alien planet, where they bump into Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin! Not one of the best ‘Road’ films by a long chalk, but Bob and Bing are always watchable. Too old? Well, they were in their sixties, but it would only have been a problem if they had been playing young men. They weren’t. In 1977, Bob and Bing planned to make ‘The Road To The Fountain Of Youth’ but the latter’s death made the project impossible. For better or worse, ‘Hong Kong’ was the end of the pair’s long journey.
Oliver Stone has always had a special bond with Vietnam. He is a veteran of that war and the theme about a veteran trying to cope with his war experiences is a subject that comes back in several of his movies. In Heaven & Earth he tells the true story of a Vietnamese village girl who survives a life of suffering and hardship during and after the Vietnam war. Before she meets and marries the U.S. marine Steve Butler, she already has had an entire life behind her. She once fled for the violence of the Viet Cong, leaving her farming village for Saigon together with her mother. But soon she disgraced herself by becoming pregnant with her new master’s child and as an unmarried mother, she tried to make a living by being a freedom fighter, a hustler and sometimes a prostitute. As soon as they are married, they move to the USA, but life on the other side of the ocean certainly isn’t as perfect as she imagined it to be…
Some people say that it is a good thing that Oliver Stone has finally made a movie that shows the Vietnamese perspective of the war and I agree, but only to a certain extend. It’s true that we only get to see movies that show the American side of the story and that we need other movies that give us a broader view on the matter, but “Heaven & Earth” isn’t the only ‘reversed’ Vietnam film. Perhaps not many people know this, but the French movie “Indochine” (1992) does approximately the same. The main difference with “Heaven & Earth” is that it doesn’t talk about the ‘American’ period, but about the French colonial period that proceeded it and in which time the Vietnam war really started (The French had almost lost all their battles when the Americans came to help them and thereby got completely stuck into the war themselves…).
But it is true, Oliver Stone has done a nice job with this movie. He has made it an interesting character study, with the war always present in the background. The acting is very good and I don’t think there could have been a better actor than Tommy Lee Jones to play the role of Major Steve Butler. The other actors all did a good job too, in fact, I might say that Stone has had an excellent cast to work with and he probably got the most and the best out of them.
If there is one lesser point to this movie, although only a small one, than it must be the language. The Vietnamese all start by speaking almost perfect English to each other, but when they speak to Americans their English is poor, yet when they speak to each other in front of an American its in Vietnamese. I believe it would have been better if Stone had chosen to let the Vietnamese speak their own language all the time and to speak with an accent when speaking to the Americans. But as I already said, I only see this as a minor detail and it certainly didn’t spoil the good times that I had with this movie. This is an underrated movie that deserves to be seen by a great audience.