Sunday, September 29, 2013

Movie Reviews - The Family and Prisoners

We have two movie reviews today, The Family and Prisoners!

The Family (R)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D'Leo and Tommy Lee Jones

Movie Blurb:
The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.


Review by Jo Ellen Eisaman, The Movie Appreciation Club

Here is a film that stars Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer. How can you go wrong? According to my club, sadly, they did. I feel it was lack of a really good script. Despite its many shortcomings, I liked this film. I wasn't gushing or anything but when Robert DeNiro plays in a comedy, especially with mafia undertones - well most fans will, sort-of, like it.

Giovanni Manzoni, cover name, Fred Blake, played by DeNiro is a federally protected witness. He ratted out his 'family' putting one of the big boys in prison. As many movies will show, when one is from the mafia, prison does not stop one's ability to get revenge. As Fred's wife, Maggie, Pfeiffer is a much beleaguered wife, tired of being on the lamb. There is a very little chemistry between the two making the distance between the two quite believable.

High jinx follows as the mafia closes in on the family currently placed in France. I did like the part where Fred decides to be, as his cover, a writer and discovers he does, indeed, have a story to tell. There are numerous sightings of mafia movie greats such as Jimmy Palumbo, Vincent Pastre, Jan Freda, Michael Panichelli, Jr and Paul Borghese. All they needed to do was show up with their fake guns. I doubt any of them have ever actually done anything but act like really bad guys, Usually, they are so good at it, though, a viewer would be unsure of their own safety should they actually meet one of these phenomenal actors in the non-celluloid world. Tommy Lee Jones was in this film as the agent in charge of protecting this family and, basically, he wasted his.time.

I gave this film a 6 out of 10, the club's average was 5.37, making it the third lowest scored film of the year.

Prisoners (R)
Starring:  Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis
Movie Blurb:
When Keller Dover's daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?

Review by Jo Ellen Eisaman, The Movie Appreciation Club
Intense. The recently released film "Prisoners" was so intense there were times during the viewing that one could, in fact, hear others breathing. People leaning forward. An occasional gasp heard. This was one of the best films of the year. 

 Two little girls vanish on Thanksgiving. One father, Keller Dover played by Hugh Jackman, ferociously protective of his family, breaks all the rules in order to get his daughter back. There are boundaries crossed. There were reactions experienced from this film's audience of sympathy, empathy and even horror at the lengths this father would go to rescue his daughter.  I totally understood his anguish and why he would do whatever he felt needed to be done to protect those he loves. The police detective, Loki, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, starts out as a hardened cop who has dealt with everything to a haunted man determined to find out what happened. The mother of one of the little girls, Grace Dover, played by Maria Bello, curls you into a fetal position so frantic over her baby girl that she is frozen and unable to deal with anything. As the proposed abductor, Alex James, Paul Dano performed with an uncanny, almost surreal, ability to make you hate him, feel sorry for him and never really understand his depths of depravity or inwardly focused pain. You actually find the more normal, if such a thing could be determined as normal, reactions of the other little girls parent's response to their daughter's loss as frustrating. You are torn, needing to accept their inability to respond in the same way you accept Dover's need to move heaven and earth to get his child.

 The seemingly absent details when the girls disappear come out so numerous, as the story progresses, you cannot believe they were missed. They are subtle and interwoven in everyday life. I, as well as several members of our movie appreciation club, look forward to seeing it a second time. We need to see what we missed and how we missed it.  I gave this edge-of-your-seat film a 9 out of 10 and our club gave it a score of 8.96.

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