“Uncut Gems” is a crime thriller directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Ronald Bronstein. The movie is well done, kudos to Josh and Benny for working with Adam Sandler in this serious drama, which Adam is not known for. “Uncut Gems” is a fantastic film!
In 2010, an earthquake-like eruption occurs at a mine operated by Ethiopian Jewish workers. During the commotion, two miners retrieve a rare and valuable, black opal embedded in a large piece of rock. Two years later, Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) who runs a jewelry store in New York’s Diamond District, finally receives a package containing the opal, which he plans to auction off at an estimated $1M. Howard is struggling to pay back gambling debts, particularly $100K to his brother-in-law, Arno (Eric Bogosian), who is also a loan shark. His private life is split between his employee and mistress Julia (Julia Fox), and his estranged wife Dinah Ratner (Idina Menzel), who has agreed to give Howard a divorce right after Passover. One day, Howard gets a visit to his shop from Basketball player Kevin Garnett. Kevin becomes obsessed with the opal and insists on holding on to it for good luck at his game that night. Howard reluctantly agrees but requests that Kevin loan him his 2008 Championship Celtics ring as collateral. Kevin agrees, and shortly after Howard pawns the ring and places a bet on Garnett’s game that night.
“Uncut Gems” is Adam Sandler at his best. His character and brilliant performance parallel that of Gary Oldman in “The Professional”, fast-talking and fast wheeling and dealing. His mood-swing was no swing because he was consistently in crazy mode throughout the entire movie. It was refreshing to see a real change of pace film that you might even believe. You will be astonished by the shenanigans that go on in the life of this highly addicted con artist, which leads me to why I am so upset with the Academy for not giving Adam an Oscar nod. Maybe the movie wasn’t traditional Oscar material but Adam’s performance was certainly worth a nod for Best Actor. Additionally, the film received critical acclaim, for its screenplay, direction, Adam Sandler’s performance and Darius Khondji’s cinematography, receiving much of the praise. “Uncut Gems” was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2019 as Sandler also won for Best Actor. He also won Best Actor from the St. Louis Film Critics Association. “Uncut Gems” has become one of A24’s highest-grossing releases, having made $44 million. On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 270 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. BTW: Kevin Garnett played himself, his performance was outstanding. I encourage all adults to see this movie. Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged aaron, adam sandler, Arno, Beni Ratner, Benjy Kleiner, Demany, Dinah Ratner, Eddie Ratner, Elline Goldfarb, Eric Bogosian, gary, Gooey, Howard Ratner, Ida, Idina Menzel, Jacob Igielski, John Amos, Jonathan Aranbayev, Josh Ostrovsky, judd hirsch, Julia, Julia Fox, Keith Williams Richards, Keren Shemel, Kevin Garnett, Lakeith Stanfield, Lana Levitin, Lexus, Marcel Ratner, Mike Francesa, Nico, Noa Fisher, noah, phil, pom klementieff, Ruth, Sahar Bibiyan, Tommy Kominik, UNCUT GEMS, Wayne, Wayne Diamond
Joker is a psychological thriller directed by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. The film is based on DC Comics’ character, the Joker produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. An origin story set in 1981, the film follows Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City. The trailers were vague but issued warnings of a dark movie that earned Joker an ‘R’ rating. While dark, Joker gave an in-depth look into an infamous character we never imagined.
In 1981, party clown Arthur Fleck/Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) lives with his mentally ill mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy), in Gotham City. Penny is always asking Arthur to check the mail for a response to her letters, hoping that Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), her former employer, who is “rich and kind,” will rescue them from poverty. Gotham is rife with crime and unemployment, leaving segments of the population disenfranchised and impoverished. Arthur has hopes of making it big one day in a comedy club as a stand-up comedian. Arthur doesn’t know his mother is mentally ill or that he’s adopted or that she thinks Thomas Wayne is his father. Additionally, Arthur is suffering from malnutrition and has no friends or any other family. He also suffers from a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate times and depends on a social services program for his medication. Funding cuts close the social services program, leaving Arthur without any meds. While working as a hired clown, a gang of young boys attacks him causing Arthur’s co-worker, Randall (Glenn Fleshler), to lend him a gun. While entertaining at a children’s hospital, the gun falls out of Arthur’s pocket and he is fired. After being questioned by police, Randall lies and says that Arthur bought the gun himself. While on the subway, still in his clown makeup, Arthur was beaten once again, this time, by three drunken Wayne Enterprise businessmen. This is the beginning of the end for Arthur who becomes the Joker. There is a lot more story to come as his transformation becomes final.
Joker is a dark and sad story of the life of Arthur Fleck and how he becomes one of DC Comics’ most popular villains. While I’m not a fan of Batman, origin stories can be a good way to revitalize a story that’s been told over and over, enticing new fans to the franchise. Joaquin Phoenix is a tremendous actor, who has really shown the depth of his acting talent in Joker. Every frame was so believable, I really felt as if I knew Arthur/the Joker. In comparison to the TV series, Gotham, I could now relate to the chaos and living conditions in this story. From the riots to the murders, Gotham’s mayhem is understandable. Joaquin has joined the best of the best-played Jokers: Jack Nicholson – Batman (1989); Cameron Monaghan – Gotham TV series – (2015-2019) and Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008). I was shocked to see how thin Joaquin had become, as he lost a whopping 52 pounds to create an authentic character and based his laugh on videos of people suffering from pathological laughter. Joker has grossed $272 million worldwide and set box office records for an October release. I think Joker was brilliantly acted, told a great and haunting story, created excellent cinematography scenes, made Phoenix’s make-up look awesome, and was directed flawlessly. I highly recommend Joker to those who love comic series and those who are not bothered by the warnings of darkness and violence in a movie. Check It Out!
[JOKER is Oscar-Nominated for Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay — Totaling 11 Oscar nominations]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged alfred pennyworth, Arkham State Hospital, Arthur Fleck, Bill Camp, Brett Cullen, brian tyree henry, bruce wayne, Bryan Callen, Dante Pereira-Olson, douglas hodge, Frances Conroy, gary, Gene Ufland, Glenn Fleshler, gotham, Hoyt Vaughn, joaquin phoenix, joker, Josh Pais, justin theroux, Leigh Gill, Marc Maron, Murray Franklin, Penny Fleck, Randall, robert de niro, shea whigham, Sophie Dumond, thomas wayne, Zazie Beetz
Little is a fantasy comedy, co-written and directed by Tina Gordon. It follows an overbearing boss who is transformed into the child version of herself. Martin, who serves as an executive producer on the project, at 14 years old, becoming the youngest person to ever hold the title on a Hollywood production. I was really anxious to see Little but I was slightly disappointed. The story could have covered more of her adult life and the overall movie could have been a little funnier.
Little opens with 13 year old Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) being bullied at her middle school talent show by Caren Green (Eva Carlton) and her friends who turned Jordan’s daring demo into a wrecking ball experience. As a result, Jordan landed in the hospital with broken limbs. Being bullied throughout her childhood, caused Jordan become a ruthless tech mogul as a grown-up. Scene after scene shows a grown Jordan (Regina Hall) as an evil, demanding, rich tycoon, entrepreneur who takes advantage of all her employees and anyone else who gets in her way. She is especially mean to her assistant, April Williams (Issa Rae), who has talent and wants to be more than an assistant.
Jordan owns JSL, a tech company that develops and sells software applications to other firms. When her biggest client, Connor (Mikey Day) shows up unannounced, Jordan suddenly calms herself long enough to meet and greet him, then finds out she has 48 hours to pitch an application that will knock Connor’s socks off or he’s dropping her company. Once Connor leaves, she demands a staff meeting of her developers and demands they come up with something to save the company or walk the unemployment line. During the meeting Jordan continues to bully her staff, calling them names and humiliating every employee individually. April who is encouraged by her colleague, Preston (Tone Bell) tries to make her talent known. She speaks up at the meeting stating she has her own pitch, only to get shot down by Jordan who essentially told April to stay in her place, as an assistant. While in the lobby of her office building, Jordan continues to insult people while physically pushing them around until a little girl, Stevie (Marley Taylor) called her out on being so mean. Stevie gets so angry, she pulls out her toy ward, waves it directly at Jordan and says “I wish you were little”. At that moment, Jordan becomes frail, stumbling to and fro then ask “what just happened?” She recovers and orders everyone to get back to work.
Jordan wakes up the next day in her lavage apartment as her old 13 year old self. She is fully dressed, leaving for work when she discovers her clothes are too big and people are asking “who are you”? She looks in the mirror and sees her former childhood self. Of course, she calls her assistant to help her figure out what’s going on and how to fix it. From this point on, Jordan gets the chance to relive the life of her younger self at a time when the pressures of adulthood become too much for her to bear.
In my opinion, Little is a comedy that could have had many more laughs than it did. The critics praised the performances but called it “a bit safer and lighter on laughs than many would like”. Lack of belly aching laughs aside, the acting is brilliant, just not enough Regina Hall. Marcia Martin and Issa Rae stole the show. Jordan goes back to school and encounters the same bullies but finds a few friends who she actually helps. Little covers a lot of territory and there are some heartfelt moments. So, does Jordan learn a lesson or does she remain a horrible bully? Does April get that big promotion she’s been looking for? Does Jordan meet the 48 hour deadline and get to keep her company? Do either April or Jordan find love? You’ll have to see the movie to get the answers. I think Little is definitely worth seeing. Not only does Marsai Martin star in Little, she is also an executive producer, having come up with the idea for Little when she was 10. Martin is the youngest person to ever have an executive producer credit on a Hollywood wide release. Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged agent Bea, April Williams, Caren Greene, connor, Devon, Eva Carlton, gary, isaac, issa rae, Jasmin, jd McCrery, Jordan sanders, Justin Hartley, Little, Luke James, Marc Hawes, Marley Taylor, marsai Martin, Mikey day, Mr. Marshall, Preston, Rachel dratch, Raina, regina hall, Scott, stevie, Thalia Tran, tone bell, trevor, Tucker meek
Isn’t It Romantic is a satirical romantic comedy directed by Todd Strauss-chulson and written by Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox, and Katie Silberman. Isn’t It Romantic follows a young woman who gets hit on the head and wakes up in a parallel world where everything around her plays out like a romantic comedy. The film has grossed over $47 million and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Wilson’s performance.
Isn’t It Romantic opens in Australia, during the early 1990s, with a young Natalie (Rebel Wilson) watching the romantic comedy, Pretty Woman. Natalie’s mother (Jennifer Saunders) crushes her spirit and enthusiasm by telling her that women like them (heavy set and not drop dead gorgeous) don’t get happy endings in real life.
Fast forward twenty-five years; Natalie is working as an architect in New York City. She has low self-esteem and is treated as a pushover by her colleagues. To add insult to injury, at a key meeting where Natalie was to present her ideas to a new handsome, billionaire, client named Blake (Liam Hemsworth), he mistakes her for an assistant and askes her to get him a cup of coffee. Humiliated, she storms out of the meeting and catches her friend/assistant, Whitney (Betty Gilpin) watching “The Wedding Singer”. Natalie reprimands Whitney then starts spewing cynical rants about romantic comedies and their clichés. Hoping to boost Natalie’s spirit, Josh (Adam DeVine) invites her to a karaoke bar but she declines.
**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****
On her way home from the office, Natalie is accosted by a mugger on the subway. After a brief struggle in which she ultimately repels her attacker, she knocks herself unconscious by clumsily walking head-first into a steel girder. When Natalie wakes up, she finds herself in a hospital and is greeted by an attractive doctor, who immediately starts flirting with her. Unnerved and confused, Natalie leaves the hospital, walks outside and notices, New York now looks and smells much better than it usually does. Suddenly, she is almost hit by a limousine, which contains an apologetic, genial version of Blake, who is now speaking with an Australian accent. Blake drops her off at home, before leaving he writes his phone number on flower petals, which he then dumps haphazardly into her upturned hat. Still confused, Natalie enters her apartment, she finds it to be much larger and nicer than before. Her previously-unruly dog is now well-groomed and obedient, her closet is stocked with a dazzling array of clothes and shoes. So everything looks, smells, acts and appears better in a world that seems the same but is not.
Isn’t It Romantic is not a new concept but a very cute one with a message for those who are non-emphatic or bullies to others. This is a simple story and what I call a fill in when there’s nothing else available. The movie runs 1 hour 29 minutes and is really a teenage fantasy masquerading as an adult comedy. You probably can predict the rest of this story and be absolutely correct. I think it’s a decent comedy for a young person, however I don’t recommend you actually spend money to see it, unless you’re renting it from Amazon or Netflix. Isn’t It Romantic is not due to be released on DVD until May 21, 2019. Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged Adam DeVine, Betty Gilpin, blake, Brandon Scott Jones, Donny, Dr. Todd, gary, Isabella, Jay Oakerson, Jennifer Saunders, Josh, liam hemsworth, natalie, Priyanka Chopra, Rebel Wilson, Tom Ellis, Whitney
Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic thriller film, directed by Susanne Bier from a screenplay written by Eric Heisserer and based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. The film follows a woman and two children who must travel through a forest and down a river blindfolded to avoid supernatural entities that cause people who look at them to commit suicide. I thought Bird Box was over rated via Netflix and local TV ads, but I still found it entertaining.
Bird Box opens in a post-apocalyptic world as Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock) advises her two young children, Boy/Tom (Julian Edwards) and Girl/Olympia (Vivien Lyra Blair) that they will be going downstream on a river in a boat. She strictly instructs them to not remove their blindfolds, or else they will die.
Five years earlier, a pregnant Malorie is visited by her older sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson). A news report is being shown on television about unexplained mass suicides originating in Russia and quickly spreading across Europe. After hearing the devastating news report, Malorie visits Dr. Lapham (Parminder Nagra) at the hospital for her routine pregnancy checkup. Jessica accompanies her sister for support however, when leaving the hospital, Malorie sees a woman bashing her head into a glass panel followed by others panicking as chaos quickly erupts throughout the town. Malorie and Jessica attempt to drive away from the violence, but Jessica witnesses the phenomenon affecting the masses, loses control of herself and the car she is driving, which overturns. Injured, Malorie watched Jessica purposely walk in front of an oncoming truck that kills her instantly.
Bewildered and hurt, Malorie attempts to flee on foot through the mass chaos. Suddenly, Malorie encounters a woman, Lydia (Rebecca Pidgeon), who invites her to seek shelter in her home even though her husband, Douglas (John Malkovich) doesn’t want to let anyone in, friends included. However, right before his wife reaches Malorie, she goes into a trance, begins talking to her dead mother, and casually climbs into a burning car, which subsequently explodes. Malorie is rescued and brought into Lydia and Douglas’ house by Tom (Trevante Rhodes), a fleeing passerby. Another survivor, Charlie (Lil Rel Howery), who is seeking refuge in the house, theorizes that a celestial entity has invaded Earth, taking the form of its victim’s worst fears and driving them insane before causing them to commit suicide. At the insistence of Tom they cover all windows in the house and use blindfolds whenever they must venture outside. As the supply of food decreases and with the arrival of a new pregnant survivor, Olympia (Danielle Macdonald), decisions have to be made quickly. Ultimately, Greg (BD Wong), who is also seeking refuge in the house, volunteers to tie himself to a chair while monitoring the house surveillance cameras, hoping to find the issue of the entity, but kills himself by rocking his chair violently and slamming his head into a hearthstone after seeing it.
Although Bird Box is deemed a thriller, it’s also a mystery. What’s going on, who or what is causing this chaos and mass suicide to take place? Is this an alien invasion or is it something in the food or water? Where is Bird Box going with this movie and is there any hope? Only some of these questions are answered, however the journey is quite interesting with much more twists and subplots to be revealed. Survival demands the use of common skills that are most difficult to withstand. There is much sadness in Bird Box but it’s worth watching. The acting is brilliant and the cinematography is exceptional. Bird Box is streaming on Netflix — Check It Out, if you have Netflix already, what do you have to lose?
Posted in STREAMING
Tagged amy gumenick, bd wong, bird box, boy, charlie, cheryl, danielle macdonald, david dastmalchian, douglas, dr lapham, felix, gary, girl, greg, happy anderson, jacki weaver, jason, jessica, john malkovich, julian edwards, keith jardine, lil re howery, lucy, lydia, machine tgun kelly, malorie hayes, olympia, parminder nagra, pruitt taylor, rebecca pidgeon, rick, river man, rosa salazar, samantha, sandra bullock, Sarah Paulson, taylor handley, tom, tom hollander, Trevante Rhodes, vince, vivien lyra blair, whistling marauder, yelling marauder
The Slap has an impressive cast but doesn’t appear to have the potential for a long story line. In fact, it’s an American mini series, based on an Australian adaptation of the same name. So far, only the pilot has aired so there’s not a whole lot to report on, regarding the quality of the series. I found some parts of this story quite repulsive. An unruly 5 year old brat at a family, birthday barbeque is pulling up the hostess’s garden, destroying classic vinyl records, refusing to acknowledge he’s been called out after the 3rd strike in a softball game and the worst of all, being breast fed by his mom Rosie (Melissa George) every time he gets out of order. Hugo’s father, Gary (Thomas Sadoski) observes but does nothing. The slap was caused when Hugo repeatedly kicked an adult, Harry (Zachary Quinto) in the shins because Harry was trying to discipline Hugo as he swung a bat at the other children. I must say, the whole scene brought up plenty emotions. It’s hard to sit there and not have any input however, it’s only a TV series. In the meanwhile, the star couple, 39 year old Hector Apostolou (Peter Sarsgaard) and Aisha Apostolou (Thandie Newton) are having a 40th birthday for Hector and Hector is obsessing over his under aged children’s baby sitter, Connie (Makenzie Leigh). In pops Anouk (Uma Thurman), with a very young date and observes Hector having a private moment with Connie. There’s lots going on in this series, including the fact that Harry is a cocky hot head. I have mixed feelings about The Slap — I hope it’s gets better because other than the slap, I found it a tad boring with a lot of the same old scenarios, like Hector’s mid life crisis. Dylan Schombing brilliantly plays Hugo, the 5 year old, undisciplined child. The Slap airs on NBC and is a tolerable mini series that will run for 8 episodes.
Posted in Dramas, Mini Series, RIP TV SERIES
Tagged 5 year old, anouk, connie, dylan schombing, gary, harry, hugo, makenzie leigh, melissa george, mini series, rosie, the slap, thomas sadoski, uma thurman, zzachary quinto