“Max Rose” a Heartfelt Story and Performance

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The heartfelt story Max Rose showcases the amazing talent of Jerry Lewis. His performance here just may earn him a nomination of high honors in a leading role, it’s that good. Pleasantly surprised at his ability to show his vitality and pathos the remarkable actor puts on a show that will be remembered way after you leave the movie theater. Add to this a delightful scenes with the magnificent Claire Bloom and you have a fine evening of movie-going. It’s an older crowd’s film that’s not to be missed. Read more

“Author: The JT LeRoy Story” a Wacky Look at a Wacky Life

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This wild and wacky documentary on the life of author Laura Albert, Author: The JT LeRoy Story, gets complicated, showy, impudent and irreverent and that just the first half. But, that’s the beauty of this offbeat, nonsensical biography told by Laura Albert herself. Unless you travel in book writing circles, you may not know the celebrity of the writer who earned her fame using multiple impostors and through a stroke of luck. In fact, she’s even accused of a mental multiple personality disorder in her quest to pull off one of the biggest hoax’s in the literary business. Read more

“The People vs Fritz Bauer” Desperately Searching for Adolph Eichmann

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Taking a closer look at the effects of WWII on the German “final solution”, the film The People vs. Fritz Bauer adds another true story for all to see. Intriguing and convincing the film’s not a documentary but more of a biography of a man who helped to insure that his beloved country would never take the despotic road to ruin again. Read more

“The Vessel” a Daunting Look at Grief and Regret

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Moody, brooding and mysterious the film The Vessel takes you on a journey to a town that has stood still. Nicely acted with a fine cast that includes Martin Sheen in a role that’s touching and bold, the movie prods at your heartstrings and digs into your soul. It’s the kind of rare film that offers a skewed look at tragic events. Read more

“Captain America: Civil War” a Blast on Home Video

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Keeping the Marvel Comic franchise at the top of the charts Captain America: Civil War blasts from the big screen to home video. Available in various formats including Blu-ray 3D, the film delivers the excitement, drama and explosive action to make it an entertaining experience for teens through adults. The film has an incredible amount of extremely good CGI that it’s hard to distinguish between reality and fantasy. The production is so mind boggling, you will probably not take a break from watching the film. Read more

“Sully” Reliving a Heroes Judgement Call

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There have been several real life events that Hollywood has brought to the screen and the movie Sully happens to be one of the most amazing. Seven years ago US Airways flight 1579 had to ditch in the Hudson River and TV had a heyday with the crash and rescue of all 155 passengers on board. Even more recent was the replay of the documentary “Hudson Plane Crash: What Really Happened” on American Heroes Channel cable TV that was very poignant with actual passengers and crew members giving interviews.  Heroism personified. Read more

“Mia Madre” Juggling Dreams While Jumping Through Hoops

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The film Mia Madre has its moments, but the bleak story is a matter of taste. A true indie in every sense of the word, the movie becomes a trite look at the inside of movie making through the eyes of a director who’s dealing with her mother’s illness. Admittedly not based on a true story, the subject matter should appeal to those who have found themselves in similar situations with the main character. If you like films that work their magic through dramatic moments and hard to cope with situations, then this little gem will work nicely for you. Read more

“A Bigger Splash” a Sensuous Film that Tantalizes

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Set in the south of Italy on the island of Pantelleria the modern day romance A Bigger Splash has a few twists to its plot that’s nicely handled by the famous cast. The sound track gets a lot of work while the foursome bask in the gorgeous rocky coast of the exquisite island. The storyline does lack some zip and it flounders somewhat, but in the long run this 2 hour movie does work well as a home video or digital download. Read more

“Life, Animated”, a Heartfelt Story of True Love for a Child

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Heartfelt, inspiring and compelling the documentary Life, Animated takes you into the world of Autism in a positive way. Not to be missed, this amazing production involves relationships as you have never experienced unless you are a parent, psychologist, or a member of the medical field directly associated with children with this unusual affliction. It’s so touching and emotional that the film should bring tears of joy from this rare coming-of-age story. Read more

“The Jungle Book”, a High Spirited Family Film on Home Video

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Director Jon Favreau turns family viewing up a notch with a darker version of the 1997 animated The Jungle Book. Now on Blu-ray/DVD the live action with a copious amounts of computer generated images, Favreau takes the classic into the 21st century with realism beyond belief. Adding a lot of action to his film the movie becomes more of a jungle battle than an innocent romp in the trees and vegetation while coming in contact with some comical characters. It’s not the family musical you saw many years ago, but the story stays intact and fun to watch. Read more

“The Phenom”, Losing Mojo in the Majors

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Just in time for the winding down of the major league baseball season, The Phenom comes to Blu-ray/DVD with a drama that’s fit for avid lovers of the sport. The psychological story has a good cast, nice direction, but the script turns an interesting plot into a theatrical two act play. The movie leaves out the guts and glory that most baseball flicks rely on for the magic that puts sports fans in the seats of a dark movie theater. Instead turns into a sob story about a rookie that loses his ability to focus on “the game”. Read more

“Equity”, Women vs. Wall Street

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Review by John M Delia, Jr.

The film Equity Directed by Meera Menon brings movie goers a unique story written by Amy Fox, Sarah Megan Thomas, and Alysia Reiner. It shows a woman’s view of Wall Street and the effects it can have on them. Carefully organized, well written, and presented, the scrupulous film is perfect for the over twenty audience. Menon develops this story with a deep look into the process it takes to have a private company go public and the negative and positive effects on its founders. Read more

In Order of Disappearance: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard)
Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard)

A surprisingly enjoyable action flick, In Order of Disappearance unites Fargoesque elements with Dirty Harry street justice, piling up bodies faster than snow off a road plow. Hans Petter Moland’s gritty thriller draws on an everyman protagonist to work his way up the crime tree of dirt-bag criminals and sequentially dispense justice with Old Testament ferocity.

Death of Nils' son
Death of Nils’ son

After some bottom-of-food chain bad guys rig the death of his son, Ingvar, to look like an overdose, mild mannered Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard) initially takes the blame and nearly offs himself with a rifle. But most viewers know better than to expect a protagonist to die so quickly, which is why it’s no surprise when we learn that Ingvar was murdered. And why the ostensibly docile Nils embarks on “digging two graves” for his son’s murder, uprooting the heretofore-cerebral crime paradigm of Scandinavian cinema. Among the mob soldiers Nils dispenses (with the help of his huge snowplow) is the likeable Strike (Game of Thrones Kristofer Hivju). It’s a bit more than a cameo, and there’s a good-guy-bad-guy camaraderie moment that gives the scene a bit of moral balance.

Kristofer Hivju and Stellan Skarsgard
Kristofer Hivju and Stellan Skarsgard

Nils clearing the Norwegian backwater with a giant yellow snowplow becomes an arresting metaphor for his life, removing obstructions in a physically cold, cruel world. And what better obstruction to remove than a crime family bent on expansion? With tongue-in-cheek tombstone solemnity, Nils’ enemies are dispatched and recorded on black screen—a nice, subtle comedic touch. During a visit to Nils’ estranged brother, Egil (Peter Andersson)—his former “wingman”—we learn that in his misspent youth, Nils picked up a few street survival “talents.” It’s a History of Violence moment that underscores Nils’ ability to dispatch goons with such lean efficiency.

Snow plow justice
Snow plow justice

Nils’ nemesis is a young ponytailed crime boss known simply as “the Count” (Pal Sverre Hagen). The second-generation mobster inherited the business from papa, but his hot temper and impatience eventually cause him to underestimate Nils. The Count seems to have his hands full in areas that extend beyond running the family business. A B-story that underscores his “husband/father of the year” persona is the Count’s ongoing fight with his ex-wife (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) over custody of their son.

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Square pegged into crime boss status, the Count is repeatedly outwitted by Nils’ blue-collar tactics. Outmatched by a rival gang of Serbians, he unwittingly responds to “an insult” with the wrong “message.” Doing an admirable job as the Serbian’s avuncular capo di tutt’i capi is “Papa” (Bruno Ganz), a likeable sort and heavy counter weight to the impulsive Count. The final, shell-casing-littered standoff dovetails the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and is as satisfying as a gulp of ice-cold soda after a bucket of salty popcorn.

“Papa” (Bruno Ganz
“Papa” (Bruno Ganz)

 

“Hands of Stone” A Rock Hard Film

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The movie Hands of Stone follows the life of world champion boxer Roberto Duran. Well-acted by a fine cast, the film plays out much like the movie Ali where the top boxer stunned the world capturing the heavyweight crown. With Duran, the story gets a glazing of white wash, turns bullish and then a bit too sentimental for my taste. That said, I did enjoy the production value and the boxing action that looked very realistic. Read more

“Ratchet & Clank”, Dynamic Heroes Dominate

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Here’s a very good animated film for the kiddies and even teens, especially gamers who have played the PlayStation video game from which the movie was taken. It’s called Ratchet & Clank and gets released on August 23, 2016 in several formats DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD. They have also bundled the three formats in a one purchase box for those that want to split the fun with youngsters. The story has a good theme about being a hero, but the sci-fi animated violence can get a bit testy for the very young. Read more