Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fall Movie Reviews!

Runner, Runner
A movie review by Jo Ellen Eisaman

"Runner, Runner" stars Ben Affleck as Ivan Block - a ruthless owner of an on-line poker site. The multi-talented Justin Timberlake takes on the serious role of Richie Furst, a young financial genius, who is taken in by the supposedly easy riches to be had - if he gets the right cards.  Being a grad student of a very prestigious college, Furst has calculated the odds of virtually every hand, opponents statistics and having them at his fingertips, pays for his degree by selling on-line poker to fellow students and college buddies.

FBI agent Shavers, the so-called good guy, is played a little over the top by Anthony Mackie. Agent Shavers seems to be much more dangerous than the mobsters he is trying to take down.
Gemma Arter comes in as Rebecca Shafran, the girlfriend of Block and Furst and manages to look beautiful. That is pretty much her role.

The action picks up, when his sales are discovered, Furst has his poker sales shut down by a disgusted college dean. He does what no intelligent person should ever do - he bets the pot and despite all his abilities, has a very unlucky game and loses everything.  Feeling righteously angry, Furst goes to the source of his self-imposed misery and challenges Block. He is bought by a gleaming offer of easy riches becoming every bit as bad as the mobster Block is.

I felt this film was slow. It did not live up to it's potential and it had to shout out it's message more than once - literally. "The house always wins."  I gave it a disappointed 4.5 and the club gave it a 6.86 average.

 Escape Plan
A movie review by Jo Ellen Eisaman

"Escape Plan" is a story about an escape artist - a man who has spent his lifetime in prison as he escapes from each as a way of life. As an expert, he has written 'the book' on prison security. His team knows where he is, just in case. So far, and we are talking about a man in his senior years here, he hasn't really needed them too much. Now, he is committed to the prison of prisons. Each cell, glass encased and completely separate from others and set up in vertical configurations. The warden is a hard case who does not care about the men he has in his cells.

Sylvester Stallone plays the escape expert, Ray Breslin with great strength. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a 'brilliant' criminal, Emil Rottmoyer. Emil does not really get to show off his brilliance and let's face it- you just can't pull Arnold down a level no matter how hard you try or who has top billing. 

What I loved about this film were the details. I loved seeing them and figuring it all out. What bothered me was, given the type of prison this was, why did this super tough warden even allow the two men to get together at all. Once he had figured that Breslin and Rottmoyer may be 'up to something' their continued time together should have been put to an end. For that reason, this movie got a 5 out of a 10 from me. The club gave "Escape Plan" an even 7.00 average.   

 Bad Grandpa
A movie review by Jo Ellen Eisaman

Let's face it, humor has sunk to it's lowest level in "Bad Grandpa." In this film, which men and boys seem to love - go figure, a grandfather gains possession of his grandson in order to transport him to his worthless, drug using father. His mother has been put in jail. Grandpa, unlike any of the grandfathers I know, wants no part of his daughter, the child or the child's father. He is a very poor excuse as a grandparent and treats the child appallingly.  

I do have to admit to a few moments of laughter, however, the bathroom humor was horrid and actually seems to lower a viewer's IQ level. I am almost sure of it.  At no time during this dark, "Candid Camera" style film did I ever believe the young actor, Johnny Knoxville, playing Grandpa, was old. Even Grandfather's with walking issues don't walk as though they are carrying grapefruit in their drawers.   I gave this disgusting film a .5 out of a possible 10.  The club gave it 6.31 average.

 Last Vegas
A movie review by Jo Ellen Eisaman

Four movie legends get together (and despite Kevin Kline's belief he is not a legend - I've watched most of his films and yes, Kevin you are a legend) in the recently released film "Last Vegas." Robert DeNiro plays Paddy, a heartbroken widower. Michael Douglas is Billy, a long, long time bachelor finally tying the knot to a woman one-third his age, Morgan Freeman portrays Archie, a senior who has just recovered from a stroke and is treated like a teenager by his son, in whose house he now lives. Rounding out the four is Kevin Kline, who plays Sam, a long married man whose wife has given him permission to "cheat" in order to renew his formerly vigorous personality.

The four, who have been friends since they were kids, get together to have a bachelor event in Las Vegas. The misbehavior and antics that ensue are hysterical.  There is no one man of these four that I would not wish to , well - you know. They are great together. Unlike movies done in the past, "Last Vegas" dispels the usual misfortune of putting so many "stars" together. These men were awesome.
Mary Steenburgen rounds off the cast by being a former lawyer turned lounge singer, singing love songs of yesteryear to the joy and boyish competitiveness of Paddy and Billy. Despite that she is supposed to be older, she is fresh and wonderfully attractive in a mature yet sexy way.

This film was full of laughter for the audience. The best part was the people in the theater aged in their 20's, 30's, 40's and up all laughed just as hard as each other. Everyone 'got it.' The awesome part of watching "Last Vegas, was I was sitting next to a just-turned-teen and he laughed at all the parts I did. It made me feel young. Partially because of him, I gave "Last Vegas", an 8 out of 10.  The club gave it 8.38 average.

All is Lost
 a movie review by Jo Ellen Eisaman

"All is Lost" is a movie that will haunt you for days after viewing. The cast consists of one person, something I cannot recall ever having seen before. Having given a sterling performance, Robert Redford plays the role of an older man whose sailboat is crippled after having been hit by a large, wandering metal storage bin.

There are few words spoken in this intense drama for obvious reasons. The edge-of-your-seat-challenges faced by this lone sailor will almost overwhelm you. The movie-goer will be filled with questions about this man and his life-threatening plight.  Many of those question may be answered when you discuss with other viewers your observations.

There should be Oscar buzz regarding the performance of this amazing actor. I gave this film a 9.5 and the average was 9.25.

 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
A movie review by Jo Ellen Eisaman

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is far more than a film about children who are forced to kill one another, it tells the tale of a world where the privileged of the "Capital" have so much they waste more than the underprivileged of the "Districts" can even dream of. They have food so readily available, they must 'get sick' so they can eat more. All the luxury anyone could ever wish for is at their fingertips while the families in their districts are literally starving in the streets. The children of those districts are placed up as animals sent to slaughter in order to keep their families downtrodden as well as to provide entertainment for the bloated rich in the capital.

To go over all that happens in this film would take a very long time, Suffice it to say you should watch "The Hunger Games" first, even if you've already seen it. Then go the the theater to see "Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second film in this incredibly powerful series.  As an aside, if you haven't already, read the books. I gave this moving film a 9.5 and the club average was 7.64.

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