Netflix News: Brad Pitt & Tilda Swinton in teaser for ‘War Machine’ – available May 26th

Oh, Netflix. You are truly worth $11.99 per month.


An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

The Netflix original film is inspired by the book The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan by the late journalist Michael Hastings. Joining Pitt in War Machine is a highly decorated cast including Tilda Swinton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Will Poulter, Lakeith Stanfield, Emory Cohen, John Magaro, RJ Cyler, Alan Ruck, Scoot McNairy and Meg Tilly. Ian Bryce and Plan B’s Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt serve as producers. James Skotchdopole serves as executive producer. The film will be released on Netflix on May 26, 2017.

Review: ‘Live By Night’- An American Crime Drama from Ben Affleck

Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo) directs and stars in Live By Night, an American crime drama about a young man from Boston and his desire for revenge. The film is based on the award-winning best-seller by Dennis Lehane and is written for the screen by Affleck himself. A film that starts with a lot of promise but quickly loses steam and struggles to make it to the finish.

Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is the son of a Boston Police Deputy Superintendent, a WWI vet, and an outlaw. He’s a man with a good heart who seems destined for a better path, but it’s his anti-establishment ways that keep him in business for himself. Joe works with a loyal crew including Dion (Chris Messina), a close friend who’s got Joe’s back under any condition. Joe falls for Emma (Sienna Miller), the girlfriend of Irish gangster Albert White (Robert Glenister) and the two have a secret love affair, but when the gangster finds out, it forces Joe to make some life changing decisions. Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him, Joe accepts an alliance with the Italian mob and a move to Tampa with his crew to run the rum business there. But every decision comes at a cost as does the price of revenge, and Joe is about to find out just how much.

Live By Night, on the surface, is an enjoyable enough gangster film. An all star cast including Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson and Elle Fanning do their best to provide insight into their personal piece of the elaborate puzzle, and each actor does an admirable job to help bring their character arc to fulfillment, but Ben Affleck tries to navigate thru the myriad of storylines he’s created and ultimately leaves the story winded and the characters unfulfilling.

Overall, the film sets out to tell a gangster story and it does just that, but the journey is long and tiresome and loses it’s muster about halfway thru. Should you see it? Sure, but don’t expect the next Godfather, for that it is not.

Stars:

3 out of 5

After Credit Scene?

No

Trailer:

Retro Review: Weird Science Joins the 30-Year Old Club and It’s Still as Funny as Ever

weird science - poster 1

Fewer films have ever made me laugh as hard as John HughesWeird Science. This film is a sign post of my childhood, one that carries tremendous meaning and nostalgia. While this one may not register on many folks’ radar as a top notch Hughes example, I happily rated it my favorite of his oeuvre back in 2013. That it came out in what might be considered the most 80s month of films in the entire decade (along with the original Fright Night, Real Genius, Teen Wolf, Better Off Dead and American Ninja) makes it all the better. So, it is with great pleasure that pleasure that I fête Weird Science as it turns 30 this year (released August 2, 1985), a fantastic example of 80s film hijinks replete with Hughes‘ ability to take something that is on the surface a typical male teen horn-dog film and give it some substance at the end. I am unashamed in my love for this film and I can happily report that even to this very day, Weird Science towers above the poor excuses for teen comedies of today.

weird science - openingThe story of the film, for you unfortunate louts who have yet to see it, is a somewhat standard territory for Hughes – two loveable losers, Gary (Anthony Michael Hall in his finest role) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), cast outs at their school long for nothing but to be cool. However, those dreams are consistently dashed again and again by the masses, especially Max (Robert Rusler) and Ian (a very young Robert Downey Jr.). That Gary and Wyatt are smitten with Deb (Suzanne Snyder) and Hilly (Judie Aronson, one of my all-time crushes), Max and Ian’s girlfriends certainly doesn’t help. So when Wyatt’s parents leave for the weekend, they decide to make a girl…actually make a girl, using Wyatt’s then high-tech computer set-up and know how, a sort of new wave Dr. Frankenstein. When it actually works and Lisa (the stunning Kelly LeBrock) materializes in Wyatt’s bedroom, the boys’ futures start to change for the better.

weird science - kellyBut as always, there are roadblocks. Wyatt’s older brother Chet, in what is arguably the best shithead older brother performance in film history graciously given to us by the incomparable Bill Paxton, is home from college to “watch over” the boys. He harasses and harangues them all while they and Lisa set about changing their fortunes over the course of one weekend. The key to this is not only was Lisa created to be incredibly beautiful (and trust me, in 1985 LeBrock was the pinnacle of beauty) but she also had special, witchcraft-like powers that allowed her certain license to create ideal situations in which Gary and Wyatt could prove themselves to their otherwise unsuspecting classmates. They do so in memorable fashion thus ingratiating themselves to said classmates and more importantly the apples of their eyes, Deb and Hilly.

weird science - chetThis is a month that will likely be a one-way Nostalgia Express for me. It’s fitting that it is starting out with Weird Science. I hold this film in the highest regard. While it may not be Hughes‘s “best” film, it certainly is my favorite of his. It may not have quite the same touching ending that both Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club have,but Weird Science earns its ending. It’s honest despite the preposterous nature of the events leading up to it and there is something that we can all likely identify with in Gary and Wyatt. And to me, any film that gives moviegoers a scene like the one where they go to a bar on the Southside of Chicago is complete and total magic. Check it out:

There are very few scenes that are as quotable as this one. That it’s just one among many in the film is a testament to the quality of Weird Science. And despite falling into the shadows of the acting world for a long while, Anthony Michael Hall gives one of the all-time great comedic performances in this film. I wish I could understand why he faded away like he did even though he has resurfaced in the past few years. The same could be said of Ilan Mitchell-Smith who was solid in The Wild Life and really encapsulated the character of Wyatt. This film is a true treasure and deserves mention alongside any comedy of the 80s and beyond.

This film has significant personal meaning to me as I got to see it with my brother and sister at the Rivoli Theatre in downtown Muncie, Indiana, when my parents were in court hammering each other over visitation rights post-divorce. This film was the perfect antidote to the trepidation my siblings and I felt that day. So to John Hughes, the cast of the film and anyone else who had anything to do with the making of this film, I thank you. It’s rare the one can point to one person and call them the voice of a generation, but I don’t doubt that anyone who came of age in the early to mid-80s couldn’t at least tip John Hughes as the most likely candidate.

Enjoy the tasty original trailer and if you have yet to watch this puppy, get there people:

Retro Review: John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club Changed the Teen Movie Game Thirty Years Ago Today

Breakfast Club poster 1

When John Hughes died nearly six years ago, we all lost something pretty big. People throw around terms like “voice of a generation” all the time without merit, but I think that many people would openly and happily vouch for Hughes as the voice of my generation, me included. I have argued that he might have had the strongest 5-year run in film history before and I think that its hard to argue against it especially since so few filmmakers are able to match Hughes‘ output. While my favorite film of his oeuvre is Weird Science, for many reasons, but I don’t think there is any doubt that his most enduring film is The Breakfast Club. One of the crown jewels of film from 1985, The Breakfast simultaneous took the teen movie genre to new heights and smashed them at the same time. I don’t think another teen film prior to or since has captured the teen experience as well as this film. Hughes had some preternatural feel for the teen condition, for their trials and tribulations, even coming at it from a sizable distance – he was 35 when he made The Breakfast Club. Read More →

Michael’s Review: ‘Foxcatcher’- Sometimes the Price of Fame is Too Costly

Foxcatcher

I remember the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz like it was just yesterday. Being from the Philadelphia area, the story was all that anyone talked about for weeks after the tragedy. Not only was Dave Schultz an Olympic gold medalist, but John du Pont and his family were such big personalities in these parts. It’s not everyday you get to relive a local tragedy played out on film, but Director Bennett Miller has reenacted this story for the screen in hauntingly realistic fashion. Foxcatcher is going to leave you speechless. Read More →