Monday, May 30, 2016

Gunmen


Peter Loomis (Patrick Stewart) is a man with everything...power, money, the command of thousands of people below him. Yes, life as a drug dealer is indeed sweet. But he's run into one problem - he is currently missing $400 million dollars. Uh oh. Loomis is not a man who takes kindly to those who betray him, so he hires out ruthless bounty hunter Armor O'Malley (Denis Leary) to figure out what happened to his money. The only man who would really have answers would be Loomis' right-hand man Carlos...but unfortunately for Armor and his sidekick Marie (Brenda Bakke), they get a little trigger happy and kill Carlos before he can give them all the right information. All they know is that Loomis' money is stashed away on a boat. But that's it. Great. Now where do they go from there?

Armor is on the hunt!

After doing a little more digging, Armor learns that there is another person he can seek out who might know the whereabouts of this boat that Carlos has all the money stashed on. And that would be his brother Dani. Dani (Christopher Lambert) is currently, however, rotting away in a South American prison. But that's the least of Armor's problems at this point. The last he heard was that Dani was in prison. What he doesn't know now is that Dani has been busted out by a man named Cole Parker, who also needs Dani's help as well.

I'd listen to the guy with the gun if I was you Dani...

Being busted out of prison has Dani feeling ecstatic...until he learns who his springer is. Cole Parker (Mario Van Peebles) is also a bounty hunter, but he's been contracted out by the DEA. Sure, Dani doesn't have anything to do with drug trafficking but he has answers that could help Cole's career by leaps and bounds. The DEA is always trying to crack down on drug barons, and Cole believes that Dani will be the key to helping him bring down Peter Loomis. See, Cole knows what Loomis' boat looks like and he knows it's name...but what he doesn't know is where the boat is located. But Dani does know where the boat is.

Cole is hoping that together, he and Dani can find the boat and turn in the money to the DEA which would completely obliterate Loomis' career. The only problem? Dani is a touch greedy and he wants the money for himself...but he can't find that boat without Cole. So the head off in search of the boat, the whole time trying to pry information out of the other while doing what they can to dodge Armor and the battalion of armed men Loomis has sent to track them down! Do they have any shot of finding that boat before Loomis' men catch up to them? Or will they find the boat and be forced to duke it out over who gets the money - greedy Dani or the DEA?

Trust? Loyalty? Friendship? Are those things even 
possible for these two??

This is a movie I had never heard of before and probably would have completely passed over if I had seen it pop up in my Netflix queue. It's a totally obscure 90's action movie...which is exactly why my boyfriend The Cinemartyr loves it and picked it for one of our movie dates. Gunmen was a super fun action-comedy movie, filled with guns, stunts, witty one-liners, and tons of violence! And, on the flip side, also pits two hilariously adverse characters together in pretty hostile conditions so the two are constantly bickering and slowly learning to rely on each other. It's a crazy combination, but this was a great, fast-paced watch that action movie fans will love!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bridget Jones's Diary


Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) has decided that she is going to take control of her life. At 32 years old and terminally single, Bridget is determined to make this coming year the best one yet and put a kibosh on her bad habits once and for all! To symbolize her new-found sense of motivation she even buys a diary that she promises to write in every single day so she can keep track of her progress. The future is bright on the morning of January 1st as Bridget lays out her goals for the next year – lose some weight, stop smoking, find a man to date instead of being set up by her mother at family functions, but she has one goal in particular that she wants to achieve above all else. And it involves her boss.

Time for a change? I think yes...

Bridget works for a small publishing company where she engages in a mild, but sexually charged fliration with her boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). Neither of them have acted on their impulse further than sending each other sexually explicit emails and some light groping in the office elevator…but it seems that Bridget has the hardest time resisting Daniel. Especially when the two finally take the plunge and indulge in a one night stand after a book release party where Bridget shows up looking drop dead gorgeous in a slinky dress! It’s finally happened. Bridget has slept with the most gorgeous man she can imagine…even if it goes against everything she planned not to do this year. But she’s happy so that’s not all bad, right?

Why keep fighting it???


The weeks go on and Bridget finds herself really happy in her relationship with Daniel. The sex is fantastic, they have a wonderful time together…perhaps Daniel is her Mr. Right! But that all comes crashing down when Bridget discovers that Daniel has been secretly engaged to an a woman who works in the American division of their publishing house….oh no. Rightfully so, Bridget is completely devastated and horrified! How could she have let herself get into this kind of position?!

Dear Diary...back to square one!

 And after an acceptable grieving period, Bridget has decided to get back on the right path. She throws out all her books on how to find a man, tosses out the booze and the cigarettes…time to start over! Bridget even quits her job for a position as an anchor for a local news network. Perhaps life is on the right path now, maybe she’ll get it right. And maybe she’ll get it right with a handsome gentleman who keeps popping into her life at the most awkward moments…

Sometimes it just takes the right guy in the wrong
sweater to sweep you off your feet!

This is a movie I have been terminally avoiding for as long as I can remember, I was always determined to never watch Bridget Jones's Diary! I'm not the biggest fan of British movies, most of the humor kind of puts me off and the typically zany stories usually make it hard for me to commit to watching a whole movie straight through. I was so sure that Bridget Jones's Diary would do all of these things...but surprisingly it didn't! I actually loved this movie! It's quirky, witty, and actually really spot on as far as a woman's inner dialogue goes. The comedy is rich and silly, the romance and hope for love is sweet and easy to relate to, plus the cast all works really well together! Well done Bridget Jones! For those who were like me - afraid of taking the plunge - Bridget Jones's Diary is a delightful romantic comedy that will make you fall in love and laugh out loud!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Straight Outta Compton


*WARNING*
This post will be containing strong language that is being used to convey true events, as well as proper names of music groups and song titles.

When Straight Outta Compton first came out, I honestly didn’t really care at all about seeing it. I do love hip hop and rap music but I didn’t understand what the movie was about or why everyone was so excited. Actually, before this movie I’m pretty sure I only heard of NWA – the hip hop group this movie centers around – once in my entire life and that was when I heard the song “Fuck That Police”, and even then I’m not sure how I even came to know the song in the first place! So I can stand here honestly and express that I am no die-hard NWA fan and I cannot claim that I’ve listened to them my whole entire life. But Straight Outta Compton has opened my eyes to the story of this historical hip hop group. It’s a story that needed to be told, and was told in the most intense and perfect way possible.

Compton. 1986. California has become the epicenter of gang violence and drug dealing activity. The unrest has become so out of hand that the Los Angeles Police Department has taken it upon themselves to crack down on the crime and the gangs…but the cops have gone rogue. Racial profiling, police brutality, basically anyone on the streets of smaller minority neighborhoods is subject to scrutiny whether they have a reason to be searched and accosted or not. Compton is one of the worst neighborhoods and this is where we meet the boys who grew up to be one of the most iconic hip hop groups of all time.

Just five kids from Compton, who went on to change the world of hip hop. 

Eric Wright – better known as Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) – was dealing drugs and doing what he could to make money the only way he knew how. Andre Young – Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) – left home when his mom didn’t understand his need to make his way into the music industry instead of pursuing a more conventional career, even if it’s just a DJ job at a local club.  And O’Shea Jackson – Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) – was a high school kid writing rhymes in his notebook and working with Dre on putting his rhymes with Dre’s mixes. While working at Doo-To’s Club – Dre’s DJ job – Dre approaches E with the idea of starting a music label, something that will help them put their own sound out into the world.

"Rollin' down the street in my '64...."

 Together, Dre and E invest some money in studio time where a hip hop group known as HBO – Home Boys Only – will be recording Cube’s lyrics over one of Dre’s mixes…but when the group doesn’t take the job seriously and walks out. Something magical happens. Dre tells E to record the lyrics…and their first hit is born. Boyz-n-the-Hood by Eazy-E and N.W.A. – consisting of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, as well as their friends DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) – Antoine Carraby - and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) – Lorenzo Patterson - hits the charts and takes the nation by storm! Hip hop this brutally honest and aggressive has never hit the scene like this before, but to truly take over the world the boys are going to need a manager. And that’s where Jerry Heller comes in. A former manager for some of the biggest classic rock groups in history, Jerry (Paul Giamatti) approaches E and offers to manage Eazy-E and NWA.

Hey E, wanna make a deal?

From there, NWA – Niggaz With Attitude – explodes! The boys hit the road and start touring, they’re literally having the time of their lives. The money is rolling in along with all the booze and babes the boys could ever dream of having. The nation is responding to their music and they can hardly get enough of sold-out shows and after parties…but not everyone is happy. It’s clear that money is being made, but the boys haven’t seen a single cent. And Cube is the only one who’s upset. He provides the lyrics, where is his cut? But no matter how many times he asks Jerry or E, he’s only given the run around. Something isn’t right with NWA. And Cube isn’t so sure he wants to be part of it anymore. Especially when Jerry finally puts together Cube’s contract…but won’t give him the accompanying $75,000 check without blindly signing it. So that’s it. Cube is done.

Peace, NWA. Ice Cube is out!

Once back in Los Angeles, Cube immediately goes to Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington) – the head of Priority Records – and makes it clear that not only is he done being part of NWA, but he now plans on going solo. And despite everyone’s warnings and doubts, Cube not only breaks into the Billboard Top 20 with his new singles but his album AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted instantly becomes a national favorite! Seeing Cube’s success and thinking back to all the worry Cube had about their contracts, Dre starts to ease his way out of NWA and forges his own path by starting Death Row Records alongside The D.O.C. (Marlon Yates Jr.) and Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor). Everyone in NWA is slowly drifting apart and going their own way to find their own success. But our boys from Compton will always be brothers until the end. Literally. Brothers until the end.

It's been a crazy ride, and they created a legacy never to be forgotten. 

I will not sit here and preach about how NWA is now one of my favorite hip hop groups because of this movie, it’s simply not true. I like their hit tracks, yes. But aside from that, I have no qualms and to me they’re just a thing that exists – or existed – in the world. But this movie, aside from depicting what truly happened during those tumultuous years in the late 80s and early 90s, is just genuinely a pristine example of incredible film making. The story telling is brilliant and each of the actors cast in this movie could not have been more perfect. I still cannot get over how much Ice Cube’s son actually looks like him!! This movie, as a whole, is gritty and hard hitting. I found myself really connecting emotionally with the characters and I cried several times while watching this movie. You come to love the music, the characters, you feel for their failures, and you cheer for their triumphs. A better bio-pic does not exist, and I dare you to find one! Straight Outta Compton is legit, even if you’re not into hip hop or the hip hop scene. This movie is worth the hype and the watch. 

Absolutely fantastic!! Cannot recommend Straight Outta Compton enough!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Ranch


Colt (Ashton Kutcher) was the star of the high school football team in his hay day, he was destined for great things. He went on to play college football and bounced around between a couple of minor league teams but couldn’t quite make it pro. Colt’s latest try out has brought him back to his small hometown in the country where he’s going to be trying out for another pro football team…but that means going back home to his family ranch. Something Colt is not anticipating.

Welcome back to Colorado, Colt!

Growing up, Colt never got along well with his father Beau (Sam Elliot) who was all about hard work and keeping his sons busy on the ranch, something Colt couldn’t have cared less about. And this put an obvious strain on their relationship, which is why Colt went off to pursue the big time while his brother Rooster (Danny Masterson) stayed behind to help out on the ranch. He’s nervous about coming home but Colt is happy to see that his brother Rooster is excited to have him and so is his father…even if he doesn’t show it in the most obvious way. Colt’s mom (Debra Winger) is even excited that Colt is home…everything is starting out well enough!

The family is back together again!

Adjusting to life back at home is a little rough. Colt and his dad immediately start butting heads about work and integrity and doing things around the ranch. But slowly Colt and his dad start to get along…at least every once in a while. But when Colt learns that the family ranch is in trouble and not generating as much money as it used to, he decides that he’s needed most at home. And despite the flared tempers between himself and his dad, Colt knows he needs to come through for his family. And along the way he reconnects with old high school friends and flames, stengthens his bond with his family, and learns some valuable life lessons along the way. 

Calm down you two, remember that you love each other. 

I am honestly pretty bummed out with this series! I probably put too high of expectations on it because Sam Elliot is in it and in my eyes Sam Elliot can’t do anything wrong…but I thought it would be at least better than this. The opening title is a cover of the infamous “Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and sets the mood for a deep, brooding drama…and instead we are met with a vulgar sitcom! Yes, a sitcom! A sitcom complete with a laugh track, stupid puns, idiot characters, cheap dialogue and jokes….basically something with no substance. The only thing setting The Ranch apart from any other sitcom is the fact that it’s a Netflix Original Series so they’re allowed to swear all the time…not the best trade off in my eyes. If you are looking for something silly and light-hearted then The Ranch would be a good fit…I was just expecting something a little bit more and was disappointed in the end. Or, if I want to be honest, halfway through because I couldn’t make it past the 5th episode. At least I tried!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shakedown


Peter Weller stars in this movie as Roland Dalton, a public defender in Manhattan, New York who is on the verge of shifting his career into a completely different line of work. Engaged to a wealthy New York socialite, his fiance managed to score Roland a job on Wall Street. Talk about a perk of marrying into the family! But before shifting his life completely, Roland is assigned one last case which seems like a cut and dry deal...but ends up being much more complicated than it first appears.

Michael Jones (Richard Brooks) was dealing drugs in Central Park late one night when he was approached by a man who pulled a gun on him. Acting in self dense, Michael pulled out his own gun and shot the man dead...only to find out that the man was actually an undercover narcotics police officer. Seems like an easy enough case, right? A drug dealer kills a cop, it's a done deal that this junkie is gonna head off to jail. Right? Well, something isn't exactly sitting right with Roland about this situation, and he feels like he needs to find out more.

To be fair...selling drugs under a bridge doesn't 
seem like the safest occupation...

Roland learns from Michael that the undercover officer never revealed his badge before pulling his gun on the man - very weird and out of line. And Michael keeps tossing around the term "blue jean cop". What? Roland has no idea what to make of all of this so he decides to ask another undercover cop for some insight. Richie Marks (Sam Elliott) is a loner narcotics officer who Roland goes to from time to time to learn more about the happenings on the city streets, and Roland is even more unsettled by what Richie tells him. A blue jean cop is a cop that figures he can make it big by busting a drug dealer, and making off with his cash and stash so he's rolling in money...which would make sense in Michael Jones' case. But why?

Talking justice over hot dogs and popcorn, apparently 
this is how you do justice in New York!

Roland delves deeper into Michael Jones' case and starts investigating further into the deceased cop's life. Who his family was, what his home and belongings were like...if he had any money hidden...But then Roland starts getting more concerned when he starts hitting dead ends. The answers to his questions seem to be impossible to find, and when he inquires with the local police he is stone walled! What is going on? Was this dead cop really dirty? Are his pals dirty too? Could Roland be on the verge of a much bigger, and more deceptive discovery? And if he is...can he be quick enough to not get caught and silenced by those he's trying to oust?

Roland! Cautious! Can you be it!?!

I know what you're thinking: "TWO Peter Weller films in ones week?! How did I get so lucky?!" I gotta tell you guys, more than anything this is just simply perfect timing. After watching Robocop 2 a few weeks ago, The Cinemartyr discovered this movie on HBO Go around the same time. A Peter Weller action movie also starring Sam Elliott?? I'll take it!! And this movie ended up being super cool too!! Seeing Sam Elliott in macho, renegade roles are ideal for me because I grew up seeing him as a strong Western figure. And seeing Peter Weller not be Robocop was a first for me, so I am one happy girl! But the plot was also a major winner too. Anything with crooked cops is guaranteed to be awesome, and when it's teamed up with killer 80's action and violence than you seriously cannot miss out! There's one particular chase/shoot out scene that takes place on a boardwalk that really got my pulse racing! Fans of 80s action movies will be thrilled with Shakedown!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Notorious Bettie Page


I've been excited to watch this movie ever since I picked it up at Silver Platters in South Seattle. I've always had an interest in burlesque performance and the art of striptease since I discovered musical theater in high school, the art and mystery behind burlesque was so intriguing. But I didn't learn who Bettie Page was until a couple of years ago. Sure, I'd seen her face tattooed on people and I saw stills of her on Tumblr. There's even a house in Seattle with her image painted on the side - and I still was unaware that Bettie Page was literally the Pin Up Queen of the Universe! But this movie was an excellent learning experience for me. Not only did I get a more in depth look into who Bettie Page was as a person, but I got a firsthand look at how her most iconic images came to be. 

During the 1930s, what was considered pornographic literature for the day was heavily scrutinized and under attack by conservative members of the United States law enforcement. Magazine shops were subject to secret shoppers seeking out the most obscene material – magazines and photographs containing unusual footwear, bathing suits, and even nudity – all of which were under attack by religious organizations and government officials who felt that these photos were corrupting America. And one of the most infamous faces in those photographs was that of Bettie Page – the most iconic of the pin-up girls and the seeming founder of fetish photos. Here we learn more about her rise to fame and her slow fading from the spotlight.

Who was the gorgeous girl behind the pictures? 

Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) grew up in a very small, religious Southern town in Tennessee during the 1930s but she was always very aware of her beauty. She was also recognized for it too…but not always in the best of ways. She was abused by her father growing up, and she married very young to a boy named Billy Neal (Norman Reedus) who was enlisting in the army. But it wasn’t a happy marriage. After returning from the armed services, Billy developed a dependency on alcohol and took to abusing poor Bettie. Her life was filled with abusers even after she left her husband. She was a trusting girl, and that often led her to trouble. But Bettie never stopped trying to achieve her dreams of becoming a model.

Bettie's dreams are too big to be held down by hurtful people!

Looking for a fresh start and the chance to leave those horrific memories behind her, Bettie moved to New York to pursue modelling. She entered in a couple of contests and even won a few prizes – cookware, nothing substantial – and she started taking some acting classes hoping it could help her with her craft. And it was while enjoying a day on the beach when Bettie came across a man named Jerry. Jerry (Kevin Carroll) is a police officer who does amateur photography on the side, and he convinces Bettie to model for him in his studio. Bettie photographs beautifully for him…but because of the way the light catches off of her forehead, Jerry tells Bettie that if she were to cut her hair her face would photograph even better. And that small decision gave us the infamous Bettie Bangs.

New hair, new life, new girl!!

It’s obvious that Bettie is a beautiful girl with lots of modeling potential, and Jerry sees a whole world of possibilities open for Bettie which is why he introduces her to more photographers. Bettie branches out and has her picture taken by more people, mostly pictures in her undergarments or in her swimsuit.  A few times she even went nude! Her pictures were quickly entering men’s magazines all over the newsstands and she was becoming even more popular, so popular that audiences started asking for more. And that is how Bettie went to work for Irving Klaw.

Irving Klaw (Chris Bauer) was the owner of one of the largest collectives of modelling photographs in the country, specializing in unusual and different content than anything that Bettie has ever taken part in before…but things that are in high demand. Knee-high leather boots, 8 inch stiletto heels, bondage imaging, spanking and masochism…but Bettie was not one to say no to a harmless task like putting on a “silly” outfit or posing for a picture. So she never thought twice about working for Irving or his sister Paula (Lili Taylor). But with the United States government taking a strong stance against smut material and pornography, Irving was under constant investigation by the law. And Bettie’s career was under scrutiny as well.

Under Irving Klaw's guidance, Bettie did some of her most controversial
work to date. And she didn't regret a second of it!

As some know, Bettie withdrew from her career in modelling and moved to Florida where she realigned her life with her religion. Which was essentially the end of her story. Bettie disappeared from the scene but her photographs lived on forever and made her the pin-up queen of the universe – literally! And this movie did a fantastic job of telling her story in a subtle and tasteful way. This movie depicts Bettie Page as a sweet, doe-eyed girl from the South who only wanted to model and celebrate her beauty. She wanted to make people happy through her beauty. Before this movie I was only familiar with Bettie Page through her pictures and not her story, this movie was very intriguing and interesting. It was filled with cheeky kitsch and a fun vintage soundtrack that perfectly set the 1940s stage. For those who are interested in the behind the scenes tale of the pin up queen should definitely check out this HBO feature film, it’s well worth the watch!

Such a fun movie, an excellent guide to Bettie Page's life!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Robocop 2


After checking out the first Robocop movie, I instantly loved the franchise! Granted, most of that love came from knowing that the original version of Robocop was birthed from an unsuccessful attempt at making a Judge Dredd film so really I couldn't have hated it if I tried! My boyfriend The Cinemartyr, who is an aficionado in all things 80s and 90s action and sci-fi movies was more than happy to help me continue my education in the Robocop series, but I was wary. The first movie was fantastic...what if the sequel didn't hold up??? Well thankfully Robocop 2 does hold up...but only in some aspects.

The evil corporation OCP is once more working to get the city of Detroit, Michigan totally under it's control. With a severe influx of crime in the city, and widespread use of the new narcotic craze - Nuke - on the rise, what better way to incapacitate a city than to remove it's protectors? OCP cut the salaries and pensions of the Detroit Police Department so now the officers are on strike. But there has to be some way to control crime, right? There has to be some way to keep Detroit in check. And that is with the Robocop plan. After it's major success in the first movie, OCP wants to move on to the next phase of the Robocop project so that these robotic officers can officially replace the Detroit Police Department. So far it's not proving successful as all the new Robocops keep committing suicide! The original Robocop (Peter Weller), who was previously Police Officer Murphy, still functions on a high level...even though he continues to struggle with leaving behind his old life which included his wife and child. But our Robocop hero is about to be severely compromised during this new transition to the Robocop 2 program.

He is the hero we all need!!

Faxx (Belinda Bauer), a psychologist for OCP believes that the reason the original Robocop has lasted for so long is because he still has a sense of moral obligation and duty that carried over from when he was human. She cajoles the President of OCP (Dan O'Herlihy) to let her become the new head of the Robocop 2 project, despite some severe objections from her colleagues, and with her newly appointed position she plans on making this project soar. While Robocop is undergoing some repairs after a run-in with a Nuke dealer, Faxx uses this as the opportunity to plug in some new directives into Robocop's system in the hopes to control him...but it doesn't work! Robocop shocks his own system to gain control over himself once more. And now that 's he's able to function, he's on the prowl for Cain (Tom Noonan), the leader of the Nuke narcotic empire! But doing this could not only throw a wrench in his own plans...but it could cause OCP to create a new enemy more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. And Robocop is the only hope for taking him down!

Are you ready for the ultimate in final battles???

I am so thankful that the same actors were in this movie and that it definitely had a similar feel to the first Robocop. But this movie was a little tougher for me to sink my teeth in to. The plot in this movie is really dense, and there's lots of new characters and complicated plot points to keep track of, that made the movie pretty tough to keep up with. But aside from those minor issues, this movie has some LEGIT action and violence in it!! And the battle at the end had me on the edge of my seat!! Fans of the original Robocop movie will not be disappointed and I highly recommend checking out this sequel...maybe someday I'll give Robocop 3 a shot. Or can anyone tell me if it's even worth it???