Movie Reviews

Red Army (2014) :

Gabe Polsky’s documentary about the Red Army Hockey Team, and the players who starred, is a real treat. Listening to captain Slava Fetisov talk nostalgically about the Soviet Union and it’s unbeatable hockey team is entertaining. It gets even better once Viktor Tikhonov’s name is mentioned - Fetisov’s reaction to his ex-coaches name is priceless and gives you shivers. Slava Fetisov didn’t quite go to hell and back because of Tikhonov but it was close. Through it all, he stood strong behind his principals.

One of the better documentaries I’ve ever seen.



Nightcrawler is a 2014 black comedy in which Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) meets Alan Raimy (52 Pick-Up) and gives birth to a smooth talking psychopath (Lou Bloom) who decides filming crime scenes “might be something I love as well as something I’m good at.”

Lou Bloom starts out as a petty thief but, by force of sheer will, becomes the Gordon Gekko of freelance news. Like GG, I am not sure if I was suppose to hate Lou Bloom, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. His character is funny, interesting and charismatic. He is also evil in every sense of the word. A control freak who you can’t help but like - but only from a distance.

I have never been a Jake Gyllenhaal fan but his performance was spot on and hopefully won him many awards. Same with Rene Russo - her sexual excitement over what Bloom gives her (in the office because she is repulsed with him in bed) is sexy and funny.

I knew nothing about this movie going in and I was pleasantly surprised. Everything, from the acting to the behind the scene TV production to the writing and car crashes, was terrific and I can’t recommend this film enough.


Jeepers Creepers:

A friend recommended this movie saying it was the scariest movie he’d ever seen. My friend is a bright guy so I took a chance. Being able to find Jeepers Creepers on YouTube should have been a clue that movies may not be my friend’s strong suit.

The film started off well with a scary truck but went down hill at the 20 minute mark when the kids returned to see what was in the hole. It got worse after that.

My buddy owes me 1.5 hours of my life back.


A Serious Man (2010):

I know the critics loved this movie but I did not enjoy it. I found it unentertaining and depressing. A Coen version of the Book of Job. Or a more accurate description, a Coen version of Crimes and Misdemeanors.


Mad Max Fury Road :

Looking back at the Mad Max franchise…

  • Mad Max was good but aged poorly.
  • The Road Warrior was one of the great action movies of all time.
  • Beyond Thunder Dome was, as a friend said, “pure unadulterated crap”.

Fury Road is, thankfully, very close to The Road Warrior in terms of action and quality.

Fury Road starts with poor Max running from a bunches of futuristic thugs who catch and keep him for his blood. He tries to escape, fails and then catches a break(?) when the “white people” take him on a hunting trip in case one of them needs a blood transfusion. Max is strapped to the front of a truck and off we go.

Fury Road is the least wordy of the 4 movies in the series and it, like Charlize Theron and her 5 friends, is easy on the eyes.
The only differences between Fury Road and the Road Warrior…

  1. (The Good) The warm moments in Fury Road add to the film in a way they did not in the Road Warrior.

  2. (* The Bad*) You need to suspend disbelief (at times) during Fury Road in a way you did not for the Road Warrior- there is nothing like seeing a 65 year old woman battle a 25 year old behemoth to make you think, “Oh come on”.

Tom Hardy was, as always, terrific. He literally has less than 100 words of dialogue but dominates the screen. Charlize Theron is amazing as well.

If the Road Warrior was a 9.5, Fury Road is an 9 and well worth the cost of the movie plus the lousy nachos I scoffed down while watching it.


The Drop :

The Drop is about a mobbed up bar owner, piece of garbage named Marv (played by James Gandolfini) and his dimwitted sidekick played by Tom Hardy. One scumbag after another enters the picture until you and the characters don’t know where to turn and who to believe/trust.

It’s unfortunate that Gandolfini couldn’t dominate in his last role but Tom Hardy blows the doors off with his performance. He literally left me shaking.

This is the BEST film I’ve seen in a long while. Hardy’s performance was the best acting I’ve seen in a long, long while. I will watch it again. Just GREAT!!!


Dumb and Dumber To :

3 parts to this movie. The first hour was really funny as was the last 10 minutes. Unfortunately, there is a 30 minute period (after Harry and Lloyd arrive at the conference) where the laughs are few, far between, awkward and forced. Too bad because, minus the 30 minute lapse, I thought it was as good as the first.

How poorly Carrey and Daniels looked/aged was a distraction throughout.

Given how lousy the Trailer was, I’m surprised I liked it as much as I did…

P.S. LOVED the tattoo gag early in the film. Soooo clever and true.

Force Majeure :

A movie about a man who abandons his family in their time of need and his wife who is unable to forgive let alone forget.

Force Majeure is an interesting character study that explores the changing roles of men, women and family - the wife is the strong silent type, the husband an emotional mess and the children attach themselves / side with the father, forgiving his weakness, while directing their anger towards their cool and collected mother.

Dark humour is sprinkled throughout and the film packs a depressing punch. I looked forward to this movie and it was well worth the wait.


Magic Mike :

Between Stranger By The Lake and Magic Mike, I have seen more naked men in the last week than I’ve seen in my entire life. And, from what I’ve seen, I am not sure why women have anything to do with us at all (we sure are ugly naked) but I digress…

The movie was harmless fun and I enjoyed it. Matthew McConaughey was terrific. Cody Horn was cute but her acting wooden. Channing Tatum gave a strong performance and my favourite parts involved him :

  1. His dancing - it sure would be nice to be able to dance like him;
  2. His reaction when his “best friend” promises to pay him back the $10K he covered - deep down Mike knows he will never see that money again.

Steven Soderbergh did a nice job directing a movie that could have easily been silly and gotten out of hand.

6.5 / 10

The Interview :

My buddy and I sat on his couch, ate bad pizza and watched a free version of this movie. I laughed when Seth Rogen attempted to shake the dictator’s hand and at the finger biting scene. The other 2 hours only provided the occasional chuckle.

Rogen was good as the straight man. Franco’s hammy overacting makes me think they were hoping his character would catch on and result in a sequel - Franco’s version of Ron Burgundy - but after everything that happened, that won’t happen. Thank God for small favours.

20 minutes could have been cut but the movie didn’t drag. For the record, I didn’t hate it and I thought I would.


The Purge Anarchy :

I remember when The Purge came out, I thought, “What a great concept for a movie. I bet it will be good”. Boy was I wrong.

Then I thought, “It would have been good if The Purge didn’t just concentrate on one family but looked at purging from a societal perspective. If it did THAT, it would be a film worth seeing”. Boy was I wrong.

The Purge Anarchy is insulting to:

  • Hispanics - endless stereotypical gangs looking to kill;
  • Rich white people - because they, of course, have nothing better to do with their money than kill poor people;
  • Catholics - the family with Crosses and pictures of the Virgin Mary scattered throughout their house are waiting to slaughter each other because, unfortunately, they don’t have a child molesting priest to hunt down.
  • Americans - so insulting to the Red, White and Blue.

Other then the masks which were clever and the creepy government hit-man who looked like the Zodiac killer, this movie is awful, awful, awful. In 2 hours, there was 1 minute of tension. I just hope people save their money so this franchise gets purged.


Gone Girl:

I didn’t enjoy this movie but I enjoyed the book and that’s odd because they’re exactly the same. Well, they’re exactly the same minus one small detail :

Gone Girl is an empty shell of a book but it’s a fun empty shell of a book.
Gone Girl is an empty shell of a movie… minus the fun.

On the surface, Ben Affleck is perfect for the role Nick Dunne. Affleck is a nice looking, wooden actor and he fits the character exactly. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy his performance or buy him in the lead. Rosamund Pike was wooden as well - as was everyone minus Tyler Perry.

There is an amazingly well done bloody(!) murder scene 2 hours into the movie and the movie is at its best during the final 30 minutes. Sadly, a quality, final 30 minutes doesn’t make up for the weak 2 hours that proceeded it.

Save your money and read the book…

The Frozen (2102):

The Frozen falls under films that have a (good/interesting) concept for a movie but no idea how to end it.

Brit Morgan plays Emma. Emma is pregnant. She and her bf decide to go on a winter camping trip. She doesn’t want to be there, especially with him, and there is an accident. A scary stranger. Zombies. Red herrings.

A lot of the time, the movie feels like a winter version of The Blair Witch Project and that’s fine. Just like TBWP, it’s scary and to Emma’s credit, she doesn’t do a lot of stupid things.

Then we get the ending that makes no sense whatsoever. That’s unfortunate because a simple, unsatisfying ending that made sense (she gets to a local town and escapes) would have been better than the one we got.

Having said that, I liked it and, like I said, it scared me without gore.


The Normal Heart:

Bad title. Worse movie.

I entered my teen years during the 1980’s when I first heard about a horrible disease that was killing gay men in big U.S. cities. It dominated the nightly news and caused fear and homophobia - including my own which, thankfully, went away over time. For that reason, I was very interested in seeing The Normal Heart thinking, “How could it be bad?”. Well, it was.

The protagonist is Ned Weekly, a loud mouth, self absorbed jerk. He is a middle aged gay man who wishes he was still in his prime during the pre-AIDS gay sexual revolution. Then GRID/HIV/AIDS hits and everyone’s world falls apart. Sadly, so does the movie.

I understand The Normal Heart was a play before it was a movie. Unfortunately, it still has that “play” feel. The movie jumps from big scene to big scene and every character has their own meltdown and big speech while others look on. The writing is melodramatic and over the top. While the acting is first rate (Mark Ruffalo is terrific, as is a surprisingly good Jim Parsons), everything feels forced and contrived - the worst of which is the scene where a polio afflicted Julia Roberts tells off uncaring government officials as they smirk.

If you really want to see a terrific movie about AIDS and the 80’s, rent the great “And The Band Played On”. That film is everything this film is not and is one of the best things HBO has ever done.

Anyway, don’t believe the reviews. The Human Heart is a waste of time and film.


Like so many one man movies/plays, it comes down to two things : the lone performance and the script. If those two things fall into place, everything will be fine. In the film Locke, everything was more than fine.

Tom Hardy gives a strong, muted performance. The script is tight and authentic. And, while it’s sad to see Locke’s life fall apart, the film is uplifting because you get the feeling that everything will somehow work out.

I also appreciated the ending. It would have been easy to end the film with something (overly)dramatic. Instead it is quiet and effective.



Another example of an interesting premise / story that has no possible plausible ending so anything and everything goes. Red Herrings galore. All go no where. Everyone does the stupid thing. Every character is a cliché.

Dialogue/Writing is atrocious. Acting was fine. Julianne Moore is sexy as always.

I didn’t guess the hijacker but there is no crime in that - you might as well throw a dart at a dartboard. I enjoyed it more than I thought. It was surprisingly suspenseful.


Under The Skin:

I read the book but enjoyed the movie more. It was cleaner and not bogged down in Alien characters that added nothing to the story or long explanations on how the bodies were handled once they were captured.

Scarlett Johansson was terrific. Her character was more consistent than the one in the book and I cared for her more. She was also breathtakingly beautiful. Getting to see her naked over and over and over again, didn’t hurt my enjoyment of this film.

The writing and direction was excellent. After reading the book, I had no clue how it would translate to the big screen. Simplifying everything went a long way in that respect. Seeing the male characters, slowly, excitedly (is that a word?), being pulled into the black oil quick sand by SJ’s Siren, was very effective.

Last point: Unlike the book, there is a character with a facial deformity. It turns out the actor has that deformity and it wasn’t make-up. As someone whose heart bleeds for people with that affliction, I was touched by the character (it was very real) and it left me with a knot in my stomach - in a good way.

Really liked the movie. 8/10

Superbad :

Yikes! I laughed during this movie… a lot! Nothing memorable, though. Well, except for Aviva Baumann, who took my breath away. I am dying to see her in something else.

Am I the one who finds Jonah Hill painful to watch?


Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes :

I was a little disappointed. Some nitpicking from me…

First, it was too long.

Second, the human characters were too one dimensional. Either good or bad. Nothing interesting in between.

Last, there was a lack of human causalities. It was almost as if the film makers didn’t want to alienate the watchers and kept the (human) body count low - while emphasizing the monkey deaths.

Having said all that, I did enjoy it. It was a visual feast. The 3D effects took my breath away on more than a few occasions. The final scenes in the tower were amazing. As someone who is scared of heights, it left me unnerved, scared and jumpy.

Also, the ape characters were interesting. I just hope they become darker / meaner in future sequels.

Overall, I enjoyed it but was left asking one question… Where was Urko??? I miss him.

7.5 / 10


Just in case I forgot why I hate (science)fiction, I rented Crawlspace.

The film is an Australian mix of the TV show Helix and the movie Aliens. The premise is interesting enough but, like so much science fiction, it explains everything away with a farfetched contrived plot, over the top acting and poor writing.

Did it scare me? A few times, yes. Did it pull me in? Again, at times. Is it enough to recommend? Not by me.

4 / 10