Tag Archives: journalist

HUSTLERS (2019) – My rating: 8.3/10

Hustlers is a crime drama written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, based on New York magazine’s 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler. Jennifer Lopez is also a producer on the film through Nuyorican Productions, alongside Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay through their Gloria Sanchez banner. The plot follows a crew of strippers in New York City who begin to steal money by drugging stock traders and CEOs who visit their club, then running up their credit cards. I had no idea the New Yorker article would become a movie, they did a good job.

**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****

In 2014, former New York City-based stripper Dorothy/Destiny (Constance Wu) is invited for an interview with Elizabeth (Julia Stiles), a journalist working on a story involving Dorothy’s former friend and mentor, Ramona Vega (Jennifer Lopez). Seven years prior, Dorothy, known by her stripper name as Destiny, is working at Moves, a strip club, to support her grandmother (Wai Ching Ho) but is barely getting by. Mesmerized by Ramona’s performance plus all the tips she earns, Destiny meets her on the roof of the club. Ramona looks Destiny over and decides to take her under her wing thus forming a formidable team. Destiny enjoys her newfound wealth and friendship with Ramona. A year later (2007), the financial crisis strikes and both women find themselves short of cash. Destiny becomes pregnant and bows out of the stripper scene. Unable to find a regular job,
Destiny goes back to stripping at the club but Moves has changed: the financial crisis has impacted their business, and the club is primarily staffed by immigrant women from Russia willing to perform sex acts for money, a line Destiny is unwilling to cross. She reconnects with Ramona, who introduces her to a new scheme. Along with her two protegées, Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart), Ramona targets rich men at bars, get them drunk, then escorts them to Moves where the girls steal their credit card numbers and charge them to their limit. Destiny joins in and learns Ramona uses a mix of ketamine and MDMA to impair judgment and cause memory loss in their targets, a tactic deemed worthwhile since their victims will rarely admit to being robbed by strippers.

Hustlers is a pretty decent, indecent movie about some very hard working women who feel instant, illegal money is worth the risk of jail. I must first mention 50-year old J. Lo has done a magnificent job of keeping her body sexy, tight and presentable for any role she’s up for.  While she looked a little amazon-ish next to 37-year-old Constance Wu, she still has it going on.  However, none were a match for Keke Palmer (26 years old) who was a fantastic addition to the gang.  Hustlers is obviously not for children nor is it for sanctified worshippers who don’t need to see how some desperate women choose to live their lives for money. Hustlers pretty much keeps you intrigued and entertained.  The film has grossed $110 million worldwide and received positive reviews from critics, with Lopez’s performance singled out for praise. I enjoyed Hustlers, especially the brilliant performances by J. Lo and Constance.  I recommend Hustlers for those who don’t mind a good sexy movie.  Check It Out!

 

SPOTLIGHT (2015) – My rating: 8.5/10

SpotlightI am rating Spotlight 8.5 because of the message it sends and because of the impact this story has had on society.  Many people don’t want to accept the findings of this true story but the proof is there.  When you have put your faith in a belief all your life only to learn that the messengers are corrupt, damaged or the opposite of what you believed they were, it’s damn hard to admit you’ve bought into a possible fraud or maybe that your whole world is possibly bogus because perhaps, you’ve chosen incorrectly.  Chances are, you feel abandoned without any help from authorities to tell you want went wrong or how to fix the problem.  Spotlight is the biographical story of pedophile priest in the Catholic church who’s crimes of molestation were sweep under the rug by church, city and state officials.  The amount of victims and predators grew so rapidly out of control, exposure was inevitable.  A small group of journalist who specialize in investigative reporting within the Boston Globe, called Spotlight, headed up by Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) began working on this story when they thought there could be as many as nine priest involved.  Before the story was published, they had a list of 90 priest and growing.  It seemed everyone was in on the cover up, from the District Attorney to the Archbishop of Boston. As the team interviewed victims, it became clear that the damage done to these children went much deeper than a sex act.  The impact on a lot of lives turned out adults that ended up in many walks of life.  The team had many setbacks including the attitudes of parents who didn’t want to accuse the church of any wrong doing despite knowing the truth.  The team, Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Marty Baron, (Liev Schreiber) Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) worked diligently from 2001 to 2002 at getting these priest exposed and out of the mainstream.  Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney brilliantly played by Stanley Tucci, was responsible for getting Spotlight their first interviewees.  This is when we learned irreparable damage was done to many of the victims and a cap of $20,000 was paid to keep things quiet. Thanks to newly appointed editor, Marty Baron, who appointed the Spotlight team to take up the story in the first place, these priest were exposed sooner than later.

In the end, several pages of domestic and international list were displayed across the screen of convicted pedophile priest.  I’m not sure what the church is really doing about this problem but I know it is a serious issue.  The story was well told and the movie was well acted.  I wouldn’t give it best picture but I liked it very much and recommend that everyone sees it.

[SPOTLIGHT is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Film Editing and original Screenplay]

 

 

TRUE STORY (2015) – My rating: 8/10

TrueStoryTrue Story is actually a true story.  A very suspenseful movie that reminds me a little of “Primal Fear and a little of “Jagged Edge“.  These are 2 very different stories but similar in technicality and emotions.  Also, True Story is a real story about Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), a Journalist for the NY Times, who partially fabricated a story to gain preferential support for African children receiving charity.  When discovered, Mike was disgraced and fired from the Times.  He then embarked on the case of Christian Longo (James Franco) who used Mike’s name (as in identity thief) for some unknown reason.  This lead to a phone call to Mike from a reporter for The Oregonian, which peaked Mike’s curiosity.  Christian is accused of killing his wife and 3 children, motive unknown.  Christian and Mike began to meet and decided to write a book, to be published after Christian’s trial was over.  A game of cat and mouse perused throughout their relationship.  Christian was a bit of an enigma as he pleaded not guilty to 2 of the murders and guilty to the other 2, after telling Mike he was not guilty.  This caused Mike to doubt Christian’s sanity and honor.    As of this review, Christian is still alive on death row and has published several of his writings on the murders in the NY Times.  Finkel has never again written for the Times, to date.  The movie was very well acted and very well directed (Rupert Goold).  True Story didn’t make big headlines but I think it’s worth seeing.