John Wick 2014 action adventure crime
Available for streaming on Prime Video
Way over the top, but a hell of a lot of fun to watch. This is not a sophisticated movie, but for the genre it is excellent. A fine example of guilty pleasures. Pop up the corn, put brain in neutral and enjoy.
The 2018 Christmas season is winding down and soon the lights and decorations will be rigged down. Meanwhile I have had my fill of sugary sentimental movies and am ready for a change of pace. Let’s get Medieval.
For all you cable cutting rebels searching for something to stream this weekend, here is the pick of the week available on Netflix and Prime Video.
Solomon Kane 2009 action adventure fantasy
James Purefoy plays the main character, Solomon Kane, who is much darker and more conflicted than your average movie hero. The pace of the movie is unhurried and gives Kane time to grow instead of becoming lost in wave after wave of action sequences. The excellent production creates a believable Medieval world that is gritty, violent, and plagued by evil occult powers. The imagination of Robert E. Howard is created right before our eyes; it is frightening and believable.
This post is dedicated to Penny Marshall, actress and director, who died this week (Dec 17, 2018) at age 75. Penny starred as Laverne DeFazio in the hit sit-com TV series, Laverne & Shirley (1976 – 1983). Later in her show business career, Penny transitioned to directing full feature films. In 1988 with the movie Big, she was the first female to direct a movie that grossed over $100 million. I never watched Laverne and Shirley, but I saw Big with my kids. We loved it. See brief movie review below. RIP Penny.
Big 1988 family comedy fantasy
Available for streaming on Prime Video.
Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true. That is the theme of this sleeper hit film. Not a silly slapstick – it is a movie for both kids and adults – a rare bird. Tom Hanks delivers an outstanding performance as the young and innocent Josh. This movie reminds us to have a little fun in life, and it is OK to be a kid at heart. A few of my favorite scenes: Josh’s first pay day, Josh and his boss on the floor piano at toy store, the party scene where Josh wears an outrageous tux, dancing with Elizabeth Perkins at the carnival. Wow, what a lady! She is clever, fun, and sexy all at the same time.
My 2018 update - For repeat viewing, since you already know the magical side of the story, skip ahead to Josh’s interview with the HR rep of the toy company. The best and funniest scenes in the movie happen after Josh gets his first job.
Streamable now using Prime Video link below
For all you cable cutting rebels searching for something to stream this weekend, here is the pick of the week available on Prime Video and Hulu.
The Square 2017 drama foreign
If you live in a large city in a First World country you will be able to relate to this movie. The lead character, Christian, works at the Stockholm modern art museum, and he gets scammed and panhandled on a daily basis. The film is at its best when it portrays the unavoidable friction of the urban professionals with low class street people and scam artists. Christian is especially clumsy in handling these conflicts. Billed as a comedy, I did not laugh once, but I did cringe a few times. Here are a few examples of some real jaw droppers - art patrons at a black tie dinner are confronted by an absurd actor whose angry Ape Man act goes way too far, and ends is a full scale brouhaha; Christian’s awkward one night stand with Ann who has a full grown chimpanzee wandering about the house; the condom conundrum; the Piles of crushed granite art exhibit; an art lecture rudely interrupted by a man with Tourette syndrome (see below for definition); and the statue removal fiasco. This is a behind-the-scenes look at a modern art museum that reveals more about artsy snob culture than art appreciation. So bad; it is good.
Tourette syndrome - a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary tics and vocalizations and in some cases, the compulsive utterance of obscenities.
For all you cable cutting rebels searching for something to stream this weekend, here is the pick of the week available on Netflix.
Troy 2004 action adventure
With an A list cast and huge production budget this is a major epic movie; yet was panned by the cabal of media movie critics for not being true to the original Iliad storyline. Are you serious? It is foolishness to compare this film to a poem penned in 750 B.C. Whenever I’m about to dive into the esoteric world of Ancient History, I always recall the old saw: “History is written by the victors.” The Trojan War was won by a coalition of Greek states, and surprise, surprise, a Greek wrote the only surviving record of the conflict (The Iliad). Do ya think it might be a biased Greek fairy tale? DUH. Now back to the movie. If nothing else, this film is best remembered as having several impressive panorama and action scenes. The intense sword fighting is reason enough to watch this movie. While Achilles is the star of the film, he is well supported by a strong cast. King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) and King Priam (Pete O’Toole) display their acting talents, although they are all overshadowed by Sean Bean. Sean is outstanding as the crafty warlord Odysseus (aka Ulysses, his Roman name). Although not as much screen time as Achilles, his performance is edgy and true to the legends of the cunning king of Ithaca making Odysseus easily the most interesting character in the flick. He did not display the heroic man-to-man dueling skills of Achilles, but he excelled in tactical trickery so valued in ancient Greek warfare. Indeed, the Trojan War is won by a notorious example of Greek guile with the Trojan Horse. The clever plan conceived by Odysseus is one of several highlights of Greek military history, and doomed Troy to the dustbin of antiquity. “Trojans don't trust this horse! Whatever it is, I'm afraid of Greeks bearing gifts.
Currently streamable on Netflix
For all you cable cutting rebels searching for something to stream this weekend, here is the pick of the week available on HBONOW or Prime Video.
The Wizard of Lies 2017 drama & true crime
Bobby De Niro, in his best performance in one or two decades, plays con man Bernie Madoff – a Wall Street icon who ran the most notorious Ponzi scheme in modern American business history. Bernie fleeced thousands of investors out of billions, including many Wall Street professionals and Hollywood hot shots such as, Steve Spielberg, Kevin Bacon, Larry King and John Malkovich. One person who had a chance to invest with Madoff, but refused? Donald Trump. The best scene in the movie is when Madoff skillfully ropes in some deep pocket investors at a fancy party. His cunning ruthlessness is on full display to the viewer because at this point in the movie, we know his financial house of cards has begun to collapse in the face of the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis. Well before Madoff’s financial collapse, Harry Markopolos publically challenged the Madoff hedge fund results as “Too good to be true”. Harry also tried to simulate Madoff’s split-strike conversion trading strategy and discovered that it was total Bull Shit. Harry reported his findings to the SEC. The SEC fumbled the Madoff investigation, and Madoff himself provided the best explanation years later, in a prison interview: Bernie Madoff said, "I was astonished they [Securities and Exchange Commission] never even looked at my stock records. If investigators had checked with The Depository Trust Company, it would've been easy for them to see [there were no stocks]. If you're looking at a Ponzi scheme, it's the first thing you do."