THE TRAITOR – Rated R -2 hrs 25 mins

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This review is brought to you by Tony Mosello

The Takedown of the Century

Over the course of the mid-1900s, Cosa Nostra was a dynamic force in Sicily.  Better known as the Mafia, they were know all around the Globe and feared as well.  They used their means to secure ownership, wealth, and crime until they grew hungrier for more.  During the 1960s, Cosa Nostra began focusing on drugs, namely heroin, as an attempt to grow their riches.  In order to escape, Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) fled to Brazil, leaving his wife and family behind in Sicily.  He created a new life, one with a new wife and new children in his new country; until one day, his past caught-up with him.  Cosa Nostra had a major rife in the ranks, as dozens of murders and executions were being carried out suspiciously.  After the murder of his two sons (and an extradition), Buscetta found himself back home, in prison.  Fed-up with the actions and what Cosa Nostra had become, he began working as a collaborator with Judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi).  After 45 days of revelation, the information gained proved to me immeasurable and one of the greatest criminal trials began.

Director Marco Bellocchio delivers a strong, informative biography on some of the darkest days in Italian history.  But make no mistake, this is not your typical “mob movie”; more so it revolves around the mafia.  Subtitled in its entirety, “The Traitor”, or authentically-titled “Il Traditore”, is spoken in either Italian, Sicilian, Spanish, or Portuguese.  Thankfully so, as the film feels incredibly real and authentic to the viewer.  However, the star of the film is Pierfrancesco Favino.  He is stunning and captivating; he commands the screen while you hang on his every word.  He’s had small roles in a few major films, such as: “Angels and Demons”, “World War Z”, and “Rush”, but this is his true, defining career moment.  I can’t wait to see what he does next!  The supporting cast is strong, with many small-but-impactful performances from Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi, Maria Fernanda Candido, Fabrizio Ferracane, and Nicola Cali just to name a few.  The authentic cast truly gives the film a unique feel, but one that is entirely needed.

“The Traitor” spans decades during its long-winded story, but there was so much that happened (and even more that surely was left out) that needed to be told or shown.  The film does a great job at staying fresh, courtesy of the filmmaker’s storytelling techniques.  The film is not shown in complete-chronological order.  There are a variety of flashbacks and some “dream” moments that serve the narrative but also keeps the film moving.  Sadly, I’m sure this will only re-ignite the debate about long films.  While this doesn’t hit the length of Scorsese’s “The Irishman” (210 minutes), Bellocchio’s “The Traitor” runs at 145 minutes here, but the reason is the same; there is a large, detailed story to tell and it must be done correctly.  Though we are just removed from our current Awards Season, I firmly expect to see “The Traitor” on many shortlists next year for Best International Film.  It is thoroughly-entertaining and informative and I can only hope this finds an audience.  As an Italian myself, I had a blast!

4/5

THE GENTLEMEN – Rated R – 1 hr. 53 mins.

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“With all its intrigue, and perfectly casted crew, Guy Ritchie has created the “Best Film of 2020” so far! – Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

THE GENTLEMEN – Rated R – 1 hr. 53 mins.

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY:  Guy Ritchie 

WRITTEN BY:  Ivan Atkinson & Mam Davies 

STARRING:  Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, and Henry Golding

As we venture into the life of Weed Lord extraordinaire Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), it seems that his days as the King of his empire may be coming to an end, as he wants to spend more time with the Mrs., wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), and he tries to figure out a way to sell what he has amassed over the years…

But it seems a certain weaselly private detective about town by the name of Fletcher (Hugh Grant) thinks he’s gotten the goods on Mickey, which he finds a need to share with Mickey’s right-hand guy, Ray (Charlie Hunnam), so, let the extortion attempts begin…

And as we soon find within this tale featuring heaping loads of drug lords, and intense intrigue, nothing is really quite as it seems…So get ready to try to settle in, and at least attempt to follow along…

I give THE GENTLEMEN a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN!  Guy Ritchie has done it again, creating a storyline, and film, that is totally top notch, and which features a slew of characters that are expertly casted throughout!   I mean each of them shine in respective roles throughout, from McConaughey’s performance as the “King of Weed”, which speaks volumes coming from me, as I am not one of those women, like many of my friends, that has been totally enamored by his good looks, or his performances over the years.  Hunnam is by far my favorite this time around, as his performance, and his wardrobe throughout, made me love him even more!  Grant is also superb playing the extortionist, that feels he’s found numerous ways to reach the financial freedom he so desperately seeks.  And then, when you throw in the additional exceptional performances by Farrell, Golding, and Strong, you end up with one intriguingly intense film, that keeps you guessing as to where we’re headed till the bitter end!  I also very much loved the fact that the wife this time around was revered, which was totally refreshing, especially when it was written into this total “dude flick”, even the biggest “film snob” in my life, my husband was apparently enamored with Ritchie’s latest creation too, which is something that rarely happens when I convince him to join me for an advanced screening.  So, even though The Gentlemen stills fall a little short from my favorite film of Ritchie’s, 2015’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”, it is still an incredible joy ride to view the whole way through, leaving me to suggest that you head to a theater near you ASAP, so that you can catch all of these exquisite gentlemen in action!

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE – Rated R – 2 hrs. 3 mins. 

 

Bad Boys for LIfe

“Entertaining throughout, Bad Boys for Life proves that the Best Cop Duo EVER…is alive and well!” – Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com 

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE – Rated R – 2 hrs. 3 mins. 

DIRECTED BY:  Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah 

WRITTEN BY:  Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan, and George Gallo 

STARRING:  Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Joe Pantoliano, Paola Nunez, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, Kate del Castillo, Jacob Scipio, and DJ Khaled

Well, it’s been 25 years since the “Bad Boys of Summer” popped on the big screen with my favorite cop duo EVER, taking on the bad guys in Miami… and now it seems as both Detective Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and his partner Detective Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are struggling with getting older, Marcus is contemplating retiring from the force, to enjoy what is left of his life, with his family, and new grandbaby.  But for Mike, riding his Detective life into the sunset, is all he ever plans to do.  Well, not so fast here, as it seems someone is hell bent on taking Mike out, and it’s going to not only take Marcus and Mike to find out who it is, but the newly advanced police team known as AMMO (Advanced Metro Miami Operations), full of irritating young cops, to help save Mike from ultimate peril…

I give BAD BOYS FOR LIFE a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD! Of all the cop duos in film, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are my favorite pairing, as they bring the right amount of chemistry and funniness, they bring each time to a Bad Boys production.  And as we embark on the 3rd installment of this franchise, I was actually wondering if it’s been too many years – 17 to be exact since Bad Boys II hit the big screen – for the same chemistry to be there between them?  And I can gladly share that it’s as if no time has passed at all, as they are both back, in all their glory, as out favorite detectives defending the streets of Miami!  But with that said, there is something missing with this latest installment too, as it just doesn’t have the same intensity as a whole, as the original two films did.  It may be as simple as the fact that this film doesn’t have Michael Bay, and his intense movie making at the helm.  Or it may be that this films multi-dimensional storyline, veering off in different directions, is what ends up taking away from the film as a whole for me. All I know is that I was hoping for a little more from this Bad Boys for Life, when it was all said and done.  But, regardless of these minor flaws throughout, Bad Boys For Life is still fun, and very entertaining, leading me to suggest that if you have enjoyed the previous films as much as I have in the past, that you have no choice but to head out to a theater near you to catch Bad Boys for Life this weekend!  But, if you weren’t a fan of the franchise before, you might end up being more discontented than I was by the time this film ends, leaving me to suggest that you might want to wait to catch this latest installment on the small screen in your home, once it hits on DVD…

UNCUT GEMS – Rated R – 2 hrs. and 15 mins. 

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“Sandler has proven with this performance, that he can go way beyond the funny man we know, and then some!” – Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

 

UNCUT GEMS – Rated R – 2 hrs. and 15 mins. 

DIRECTORS / WRITERS:  Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

WRITER:  Ronald Bronstein

STARRING:  Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, LaKeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel and the Weeknd

New York Jewelry tycoon Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is in search of his next big score, making high stake bets in hopes of setting up his family for a lifetime. Now, trying to balance his gambling decisions, family matters, and all his unscrupulous “business associates” coming at him from all directions, Ratner can’t help himself, but to stay in search of “the ultimate win”…

I give UNCUT GEMS a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN! The Safdie brothers have created a role for Sandler this time around, that takes him 180 degrees from his comedic roots, and then some, proving that he really is an incredible actor, regardless of the material.  And this movie as a whole…WOW!  It is so chaotic throughout, that my anxiety was on overdrive!  I even had to take a step back to take in the experience of what all just happened on screen, before I could respond to the Studio rep of what I had just experienced.  In other words, if you are looking for some big laughs along the way like we are accustomed to getting when watching Adam “Do his thing”, think again, as this intensely real and frenzied film draws you in, and doesn’t let go!  Besides Sandler’s award worthy performance throughout every inch of this film, there are also above average performances by LaKeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, even Kevin Garrett, playing himself.  Just know going in too that UNCUT GEMS is going to ignite your senses, and leave you asking the question “what just happened”, just like A24 Studios managed to do with their previous films GOOD TIME (2017) & CLIMAX (2018,) and if you have experienced those films, then please take heed when I tell you that no one under 17 should be viewing this film, even if they love Sandler’s funny films, so you think it’s okay to let them see UNCUT GEMS…because between the extreme storyline, and graphic nature of this film, it is definitely not for any youngsters under 17 to experience.  In other words, even though I am definitely telling you to head out to a theater near you to see Sandler in all his glory, please keep this Holiday Movie outing to a theater near you, strictly for “the Adults” in the room.

THE IRISHMAN:  Rated R – 3 hrs. 29 mins. – Hitting in theaters NOW and on Netflix November 27th

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 “Astoundedly crafted every step of the way!  Netflix is giving the Studios a run for their money again this year!” Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

THE IRISHMAN:  Rated R – 3 hrs. 29 mins. – Hitting in theaters NOW and on Netflix November 27th

DIRECTOR:  Martin Scorsese

WRITERS:  Based on the book by Charles Brandt, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian 

STARRING:  Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale and Harvey Keitel

Based on the supposed true Story of his life, we meet the notorious about town Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), working as a mobster for the Russell Bufalino’s (Joe Pesci) Crime family, and looking out for his friend and confidant, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) too.  Caught between his life as a mobster, and his beautiful family, filled with daughters that he truly loves, Frank finds as the years roll by, keeping Russell’s boys at bay, and keeping Hoffa’s mouth from setting off a firestorm, is becoming a full-time job.

When Hoffa manages to finally piss-off the wrong guys, Frank has no choice but to follow orders, and do what he’s told…and if what Frank decided to share later on in his life is really true, then we just may finally know what lead to the mysterious disappearance of Hoffa, back in 1975…

I give THE IRISHMAN a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN!  We have been waiting quite a while for Netflix Studios most star-studded film to arrive, and now that it’s here, you most definitely will not be disappointed Scorsese manages yet again to make a Mobster movie for the ages, as whether you believe the story that Frank Sheeran shared while wasting away in a retirement home is true or not, this film will lead you to believe every inch of it!  DeNiro is superb, playing the Mobster/Teamster/Family man Frank Sheeran.  Pacino is even better in my eyes, playing the arrogant ruler of the Teamsters Union, Jimmy Hoffa.  And when you add in the superb performances too from Pesci, Romano, and Cannavale, you have a film filled with lots of Italians, that really know their stuff!  Even more astounding to me than the fabulous directing and acting throughout, is the way this film literally just flies by as you are viewing it, even though it comes in at 3 and ½ hours long.  I was also truly impressed by the digitalized de-aging techniques that were used to make these rather mature actors, look as if they were 30-something again.  Believe me when I tell you, from the extensive and very entertaining storyline, to the fabulous acting, to the flawless cinematography throughout, THE IRISHMAN is going to put Netflix at the top of heap come awards season again this year – as apparently snagging the nod for the Best Foreign Film last year with Roma, was just the tip of the iceberg.  So, make plans to head out to a theater near you throughout he next few weeks, as this is one film you have to catch on the big screen, long before you can tune it in on your small screen at home on Netflix, starting November 27th.

21 BRIDGES – Rated R – 1 hr. 39 mins. 

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“21 Bridges falls short, and in a big way…”  Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

 

21 BRIDGES – Rated R – 1 hr. 39 mins. 

DIRECTOR:  Brian Kirk 

WRITERS: Adam Mervis, Matthew Michael Carnahan

STARRING:  Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch and Keith David

As we are thrust into the life of NYPD Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), it seems that there are two drug smugglers/Cop Killers on the loose, having just killed too many NY City cops to count.  And, who better than to track them down than Davis, as his own father was sadly taken out by just these kind of thugs, when he was just a kid…

With Direction from Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) and with his partner Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) by his side, Davis should have no issues catching these criminals and putting them behind bars, that is once he closes down all 21 Bridges out of Manhattan, until he gets these creeps!

But not so fast there, as Detective Davis comes face-to-face with a criminal underworld that’s full of his fellow NYPD officers, as he now must decide, who he’s going after…and who is ultimately trying to take him out every step of the way too…

I give 21 BRIDGES a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON NETFLIX or other STREAMING SERVICE:  As much as I love Boseman, Simmons and Miller, it pains me to tell you to wait and catch this film at home, but sadly, I must do just that.  I think part of the main issue I have with this film is that it plays out just like an episode of a cop melodrama on TV, and since that is what Director Brian Kirk’s background of Directing is in, I guess it kind of makes sense.  But for a feature film, I needed a lot more uncertainty throughout this storyline, as you totally know where we were heading throughout every inch of this film, every step of the way.  And let me not totally put blame on Kirk’s Directing, because maybe this is exactly what writers Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan had in mind, but as a movie goer, 21 BRIDGES is so obvious with the direction it’s taking at every turn, it takes away from the enjoyment of actually viewing the incredible actors they managed to secure for this film.  Like I explained to the distribution studio rep last evening after viewing the film – “this is one film where the incredible actors they secured just didn’t have enough good material to work with.”  I mean, don’t get me wrong, Boseman is good playing the Detective who’s focused on riding the NYC of its cop killers.  And Miller is good too, playing his partner, while juggling motherhood as well.  And Academy Award winning actor J.K. Simmons is good to view throughout this movie too, even though he has a pertinent, but rather small role.  And you will also get to experience some good acting from Stephen James and Taylor Kitsch along the way too, but the storyline throughout this film just puts it all in your face so easily, that no one is forced to act to their full potential, thus leaving me with no choice but to suggest that you wait to catch 21 BRIDGES in the comfort of your own home, as I am certain it will be hitting a streaming service you have in just a few short weeks from now…

Review of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN – Rated R – 2 hrs. 24 mins.

 

Motherless Brooklyn poster

This Review is brought to you by Tony Mosello

Keep Pullin’ on that Thread

Taking place in the dreary 1950’s New York City, “Motherless Brooklyn” follows Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a young man suffering from Tourette’s syndrome.  Working for Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) as a private investigator, his World is turned upside-down when the man who’s been looking after him for so many years is murdered.  Caught-up in the case Frank was on, Lionel is determined to get to the bottom of why he was killed and what exactly he found.  His investigation leads him right to the Borough Authority and the unofficial King of New York, Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin).  As he continues untangling the web, he begins falling for a gorgeous woman named Laura Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who finds herself right in the middle of the biggest case Lionel’s ever been on.  He battles his affliction, but proves that it may be just as much as a gift as it is a curse.  A story of deception, greed, and fraud; the rest of the film follows Lionel’s torrential pursuit for the truth and his demand for justice for his friend.

Period films usually find their way into cinemas a few times a year, but the decent, effective ones are few and far between.  “Motherless Brooklyn” revolves around a character who is dealing with Tourette’s.  Played by Norton, his affliction seems 100% authentic and by no means fake.  It also is used as a way to tell the story, not as just a meaningless plot point.  I found it to be extremely effective and as excellent portrayal for those who suffer from the syndrome in life.  While the main focus is on Norton, the film boasts an impressive cast including the likes of: Willis, Mbatha-Raw, Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Michael Kenneth Williams, Cherry Jones, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, and many more.  Mbatha-Raw continues to prove an elite talent, Dafoe is powerful and convincing (thought miscast due to age), and Baldwin is clearly-channeling his SNL Trump persona.  Edward Norton stars as the lead character Lionel, but he also wrote (from an earlier novel) and directed the film.  “Motherless Brooklyn” has been a passion project for the filmmaker and it clearly shows.

The film should also be applauded for its gorgeous set design.  “Motherless Brooklyn” beautifully-captures the look and feel of 1950 New York City expertly, giving the film an authentic feeling that serves to elevate the film.  However, the film has its fair share of struggles as well.  The central story does well enough to keep you guessing, but some of the twists are a bit too predictable.  A second issue I had with the film is its pacing.  At 144 minutes, the film could have greatly benefitted having various sequences cut and tightening up the overall finished product.  At the end of the day, “Motherless Brooklyn” ends up as an average film, elevated by its cinematic beauty and the performances of a few of its stars.  By no means a masterpiece, but there are far worse films at the box office currently; and none of them have the pleasure of calling themselves a daring work of art like “Motherless Brooklyn” certainly can boast.

3 out of 5

BLACK AND BLUE – Rated R – 1 hr. 48 mins.

“Gripping and powerful…” – Kathy Kaiser, matineechat.com

This review is brought to you by TONY MOSELLO

Black and Blue poster

BLACK AND BLUE – Rated R – 1 hr. 48 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Deon Taylor

WRITER: Peter A. Dowling

STARRING:  Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Reid Scott, Mike Colter and James Moses Black

The Truth Made Her a Target

Back in the hometown of her youth, Alicia West (Naomie Harris) is surviving as a rookie police officer in New Orleans.  “Black and Blue” follows her third week of duty, as she rides along through the 9th Ward with her partner Kevin (Reid Scott).  Taking one for the team, she picks-up her first night shift alongside Officer Deacon Brown (James Moses Black) as she sees a whole different side of her city.  Towards the end of the morning, a suspicious, impromptu meeting unknowingly puts her life in extreme danger.  West witnesses Brown and officers Terry Malone (Frank Grillo) and his partner (Beau Knapp) execute unarmed kids, both with her eyes and her body cam.  Things escalate quickly as they fire multiple shots into her vest, but she manages to escape.  Alone, on the run, and afraid to trust any cops, West must escape and survive so she can download her camera footage at the precinct.

In a World filled with news stories of corrupt cops and crime, “Black and Blue” is sure to not sit well with our law enforcement (especially New Orleans PD).  Our city unfortunately has had its fair share as well.  The film relies on Harris and she delivers wonderfully, both empowering and commanding from start to finish.  The film’s extended cast does well, but they’re most type casted at this point and their arcs were easy to spot from a mile away.  The film’s story is thrilling, but albeit incredibly predictable; especially some of the “twists”.  I was also left scratching my head with the film’s final lines of dialog, as they felt both cheesy and entirely unlikely.  In-between the obvious plot development, “Black and Blue” is filled with chase sequences showcased in an in-your-face style as it brings the harshness and brutality to life.  The film’s score added tenseness, but I couldn’t help but think about “Sicario” as it sounded identical.  Not to be too nitpicky, but some of the gunshots sounded more like grenades going off as their sound levels were greatly exaggerated.  At a brisk 108 minutes, the film flows and leaves you on the edge-pf-your-seat!

While the film as a whole isn’t all too impressive, the film’s subject matter is entirely its salvation.  “Black and Blue” explores the current state of our views on society and police; that society hates cops and cops hate minorities.  Rather than glorify these unfortunate times, the heart of the film involves changing our Nation as a whole.  “Be the Change”, as West says in the film.  Now, I can’t speak to this with even an ounce of personal experience, but I believe in the film’s message.  I truly hope that people on both sides can experience the film with an open mind and without the influence of their personal agenda and if “Black and Blue” can serve as a possible talking (and turning) point, then it certainly may find a life.

“Black and Blue” is thrilling and compelling but unfortunately too predictable, while telling a story that is difficult to deal with in today’s society; but its handling of sensitive subject matter is exactly what we need.

3 out of 5

JOKER- Rated R – 2 hours and 2 mins.

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This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

JOKER- Rated R – 2 hours and 2 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Todd Phillips (The Hangover, – 1, 2 & 3, Road Trip, Due Date, Old School…just to name a few) 

WRITERS:  Todd Phillips, Scott Silver 

STARRING:  Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy

Venturing into to the less-than-surreal existence of one Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), we find him trying to make his way in this cruel world, although it seems that whether its mean kids on the block, or some a-hole drunkards on the subway, Arthur just can’t seem to catch a break.  And to add to his sad day to day existence, Arthur must take care of his bed ridden mother Penny (Frances Conroy, who seems to be a little “off her rocker” too.  Now, attempting to escape from the tortures of real-life, Arthur finds some sense of relief, as he focuses on his obsession with talk-show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), and his attraction to the beautiful girl down the hall, Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz) too,  hoping and wishing that his infatuation with her, will someday be reciprocated.

Now, pushed to the limits by society as a whole, Arthur decides to take matters into his own hands, ridding Gotham City, and his own life, of those who seem to taunt him at every turn…Emerging from his clowning gigs, and stand-up dreams,  into a persona that even the streets of Gotham cannot deny, as JOKER my friends, has finally arrived…

I give JOKER a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN:  Dark and demented from its first frame to its last, Todd Phillips has truly veered from his comedic genre of film making this time around, as JOKER is nothing like you have ever seen from him before.  Joaquin’s performance as the most notorious, face painted villain in Gotham is astounding too, as his take on this character can definitely go up against both Nicholson’s and Ledgers performances, that preceding him.  And just as brilliant as it was to cast Phoenix in this role, was the casting of Robert De Niro as Talk show host Murray Franklin, as he’s plays this role out about as Carsonesque as it gets, along with the perfect castings of Frances Conroy as the Joker’s mentally-ill mother, and Zazee Beetz as the love interest, making this one of the most perfectly constructed casts I have seen all year too.  And with all of the hype surrounding this film, and its graphic violence, that many feel is not needed at this particular time in our society, I must say that I was not so much affected by the violence of this film, as if you know anything about these comic book characters, you know that violence has been a part of the storyline since its inception, but  I personally was more affected by the  mental-illness storyline throughout this film ~ which is also a profound issue within our society that seems to get brushed under the rug, right along with stricter gun control laws,  I am not discounting the views that have been shared, I just think that it’s sad that many people will be scared off by all this negative press, and not allow themselves to experience the most exceptional male performance I have seen so far this year.  And sad too will be catching this film any other way than on the biggest movie screen you can find, as watching on television will take away from its imagery and intenseness as a whole, leaving you totally shortchanged from the whole experience…

Review of HUSTLERS – Rated R – 1 hr. 49 mins.

Huatlers Poster

This review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser 

HUSTLERS – Rated R – 1 hr. 49 mins

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Lorene Scafaria

WRITERS:  Jessica Pressler (Magazine Article)

STARRING:  Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Mercedes Ruehl, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Mette Towley, Trace Lysette and Wai Ching Ho.

Inspired by a New York Magazine Article, penned by Jessica Pressler (Julia Stiles), we meet Exotic Dancer Destiny (Constance Wu), trying to make a living in the world of Exotic Dance, not only so she can survive, but to aid her ailing grandmother (Wai Ching Ho) too.  When she finally meets “the Queen” of the Strip club they are both working at, the incredibly gorgeous, and smart Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Ramona takes Destiny under her wing, and teaches her the ropes of their profession, and how to really make money from the tons of investment bankers, investment brokers, and Wallstreet tycoons that frequent their establishment, each and every week.  When the great fall of 2008 effects everyone’s bank account, including the gentleman that apparently can no longer afford their weekly stripper fix, Ramona, Destiny, Mercedes (Keke Palmer), and new girl on the block Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) decide to take matters into their own hands, coercing these gentleman once again, with their good looks, and dancing techniques, oh, and maybe a little drugging along the way too, before they manage to clean out their bank accounts, in order to continue to live the highlife, they have all grown accustomed to…

I give HUSTLERS a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD OR NETFLIX:  Even though it seems that there are many other critics singing this films accolades, even determining that Jennifer Lopez’s acting is worthy of some accolades come awards time, I personally think that this film was rather run of the mill, and middle of the road.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, Lopez is perfectly cast in this role, and she is really good in it ~ If I only had her perfectly sculpted body and poll dancing moves at 50, which in itself is truly amazing stuff to view ~ but beyond those facts, I wasn’t so blown away by her performance, that I felt it was Golden Globe or Oscar worthy. I actually thought that Constance Wu’s performance was the best throughout this film, as she channels an entirely different character, than the squeaky clean persona she portrays in last years “Crazy Rich Asians”, and with much more depth and realism that I think I have ever seen from her before.  The most amazing thing about this film, for me actually, was that it is based on real-life events, where these Hustlers made sure that the men that wanted to view “their merchandise”, ended up in a situation that they were all ill-equipped to handle, paying exorbitant amounts of cash-o-la, for not a lot of pleasure, when it was all said and done.  But, if you are thinking that you want to have a super-fun girls night this weekend and catch a slightly better than average chick-flick, then by all means, gather your girlfriends and head out to a theater near you this weekend and catch Wu and Lopez in action, but if you are hoping to see an incredible movie, with Oscar worthy performances, take my word for it, you are going to be rather disappointed, so that is why I am suggesting that you still view this film…you just wait to do it, when you can view it, in the comfort of your own home.

Review of THE KITCHEN – Rated R – 1 hr. 42 mins.

THe Kitchen

This review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser 

 

THE KITCHEN – Rated R – 1 hr. 42 mins.

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Andrea Berloff

WRITERS:  Ollie Masters & Ming Doyle (Comic Book Series)

STARRING:  Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d’Arcy James, Margo Martindale, Jeremy Bobb, Common and Bill Camp

Welcome to the movie version of Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle’s comic book escapades, known by the same name, and brought to the big screen by Writer (Straight Outta Compton and World Trade Center) and debut Director this time around too, Andrea Berloff.

Berloff takes us instantly into the lives of New York Mafia underlings Kevin O’Carroll (James Badge Dale), Jimmy Brennan (Brian D’Arcy James) and Rob Walsh (Jeremy Bobb), who have managed to find themselves under investigation by FBI Agent Gary Silvers (Common), who manages to send our boys up river, leaving their wives, and families in the lurch, to fend for themselves.

When Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) decides to take her families future into her own hands, as she’s tired of waiting for the her hubby’s fellow Mobster associates to get them what they need, it seems that Kevin’s wife Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Rob’s wife Claire (Elisabeth Moss) are totally on board with Kathy’s plan and how to make ends meet…

Taking on racket their hubby’s have in place, and actually doing a better job of keeping the neighborhood safe, Kathy, Ruby and Claire soon find that they can totally keep this racket, and their lives, rolling along.

But as our ladies soon find, being a Mobster Mama isn’t a totally easy gig, although the neighborhood is coming around to their point of view, from them providing superior protection than what the business owners were experiencing before.  But, before all is well, it seems that  our ladies will have to circumvent interference from Ruby’s wicked old Mother in Law, Helen  (Margo Martindale), and the head of the Hell’s Kitchen mob, Little Jackie (Myk Watford), who seems to have lost most of his power around the hood…

But sometimes a lady still needs a male companion around…enter Gabriel O’Malley (Domhnall Gleeson), who is quite smitten it seems with Claire, even though he’s come on the scene to be the heavy for all the ladies, taking care of the pricks that keep getting in their way.

Now, as Kathy, Ruby and Claire continue to make their way about Hell’s Kitchen, it seems that the Brooklyn Mafia has come a calling, with Alfonso Coretti (Bill Camp) feeling the pressure from their control too, thus adding more drama to this situation, than even Kathy had bargained for…

I give THE KITCHEN a rating of 3.5 out of 5 – Blessed with the perfect trifecta of casting, with McCarthy, Haddish and Moss leading this film, Berloff makes her directing debut, bringing THE KITCHEN comic book series to life.  McCarthy shows once again that she can venture into powerful and dramatic roles, as this performance comes on the heels of her break-out dramatic role in last years Can You Ever Forgive Me?  Tiffany Haddish is flexing her acting chops throughout this film too, veering from her comedic roles (which I absolutely love to see her do), to taking a more commanding and powerful presence on screen which she proves, she is totally fabulous at too.  But the most impressive, and disturbing performance this time around for me, came from Elisabeth Moss, as her battered wife turned flagrant, dismembering killer, turns out to be the most intense performance you will find throughout this film.  So, with all those accolades, why not give this film a perfect score? With the premise harkening back to last year’s WIDOWS, I was hoping for the same intensity, and woman-power vibe, which never truly arrives.  Sadly, it seems that The Kitchen just couldn’t get all the burners lit at the same time, and even though there are some fabulous moments throughout from everyone on screen, it just couldn’t truly, pick up enough steam for me.  I totally felt like this film had lots of potential going in with its incredible cast, but the intensity throughout totally wains, that is until Moss and her “violent crazy” is filling up the screen.   Suffice to say, I enjoyed the premise and the performances throughout this film, it just left me waiting and longing for more, when it was all said and done…

Check out the NEW TEASER TRAILER for the much anticipated NETFLIX FILM – THE IRISHMAN – In Select Theaters and on Netflix THIS FALL

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Synopsis:

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci star in Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN, an epic saga of organized crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century. Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jack Huston, Kathrine Narducci, Jesse Plemons, Domenick Lombardozzi, Paul Herman, Gary Basaraba, Marin Ireland

Produced by: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler, Gerald Chamales, Gaston Pavlovich, Randall Emmett

Screenplay by: Steven Zaillan

Director of Photography: Rodrigo Prieto

Production Designer: Bob Shaw

Costume Designer: Christopher Peterson, Sandy Powell

Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker

#TheIrishman @TheIrishmanFilm @NetflixFilm

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