THE BIRDCAGE (1996)

Directed By Mike Nichols 
Written By: Elaine May 
Based on An Earlier Screenplay By: Francis Veber, Edouard Molinaro, Marcello Danon & Jean Poiret
Based in the play La Cage Aux Folles by: Jean Poiret
Cinematography: Enrique Lubezki
Editor: Arthur Schmidt 

Cast: Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria, Christine Baranski, Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Tom McGowan, Grant Heslov, Kirby Mitchell, Ann Cusack, Trina McGee-Davis

A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s right-wing moralistic parents.


this film at the time was a little daring or a bit of a gamble for a mainstream audience. Though it was also self-assured because of the popular cast. Though behind the scenes you had a bunch of heavy hitters. Who managed to raise the bar on a familiar tale and still knock it out of the park. 

Which shockingly had some actors playing against type. Where we have a fun yet more restrained Robin Williams while playing more of a funny conservative grouch. Seeing gene hackman in drag is certainly different and new.

The film also tries to put in some satire of the political culture at the time and while camping up gay culture at least offers a glimpse inside of it and offers representation.

This film also is really the big screen introduction of Nathan Lane as Albert the drag queen lover who has been practically a mother to robin Williams son in the film. Playing a role that was abandoned by Steve Martin last minute due to scheduling problems. Thilough broadway star Nathan lane took it and made it a star-making Role.

Hank Azaria also makes his presence felt in his supporting role as the couples maid, assistant and cook. Who is also part of the slapstick laughs later in the film.

This is one of those films that came around at the right place and right time. As the film and play was already a hit In France and waiting for an American remake for years that never got made which might have been out of fear in the 1989’s to portray a gay relationship. non chalantly with mainstream big name actors. So that when it did come along the culture was a bit more relaxed and if made today might not even bat too many eyelashes.

Luckily it is still hilarious to watch even on this day and age. Even when the Jokes are a little more obvious they still make you laugh. As there is wit on display as well as physical comedy and just plain old slapstick in the third act.

Out of the cast if anyone is flat It’s the young couple looking to get married played by Claista Flockhart and Dan Futterman though in a film filled with flamboyant and over the top characters you need some to be more quiet and seemingly normal to even it out a little. though they come off a little dull and Futterman Looks way older than Flockhart 

While the film is a laugh riot from beginning to the end it also has character moments that come off more serious and dramatic. As even after the so called Macho lesson the scene where lane tries to act like a straight male in a suit is a thing of beauty and partial pain.

You can feel its theatrical roots throughout it truly strongly in The theirs act where everything comes to a head. What truly is amazing is that while it was dating at its time it plays off so cute that now it feels like a more modern comedic classic that the whole family can enjoy. Even if there are times when it feels overloaded with stereotypes. 

It is so styled yet feels so haywire. That while it might seem like it is filling turbulence it’s always smooth sailing. 

Though there is an overwhelming comedic quality with heart and care that had me going to see it in theaters more than once or twice. 

Grade: A-

SOMEONE LIKE YOU (2001)

Directed By: Tony Goldwyn 
Written By: Elizabeth Chandler
Based On The Novel “ANIMAL HUSBANDRY” By: Laura Zigman
Cinematography: Anthony B. Richmond 
Editor: Dana Congdon

Cast: Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, Ellen Barkin, Donna Hanover, Catherine Dent, Nicole leach, Peter Friedman, Colleen Camp, Mirelle Enos, Veronica Webb, Naomi Judd

After being jilted by her boyfriend, a talk show talent scout writes a column on the relationship habits of men which gains her national fame.


Way before the ADELE song on the same name. This movie came around when Ashley Judd was getting used to being a star. This was the film where it would really rest on her shoulders.

The problem is that this film is so generic. That even at the time it came out there felt outdated. It’s one of those films that came out in the 90’a and while you can tell it is a studio film it still comes across as no-frills. As there is no particular style everything’s made to look bland. So that when something that looks sharp in style and person. It is jarring. The film feels like it could have been a storyline on the television show FRIENDS rather than getting its own movie.

It also feels like everyone is too for their roles and especially to still have the character’s mindsets.

This film is disposable. So disposable I watched it recently and don’t remember much of this film. I know enough that I would never watch it again.

Hugh Jackson plays a cad who somehow becomes roommates with a co-worker played by Judd. She has recently broken up with her boyfriend and at first, they can’t stand each other (then why live together in the first place. It is New York after all so I guess desperate measures) slowly but surely, of course, they fall in love and he changes his ways.

I enjoy Hugh Jackman a lot. He is like one of those classic leading men from the 1940s and ’60s and at least the film in a scene shows why his character is so jaded and cruel as a ladies’ man. Though here he rarely has any chemistry with his female co-stars which really doesn’t help if you are making a romantic comedy. (Nor does the theory of double negative where the chemistry is supposed to be bad that it comes off charming eventually) Though there is something innately watchable about him.

Watching this film less for the romance and more for the comedy. As there is already little romance and more talk of it than anything. The comedy also never really comes other than some catty one-liners more from Jackman than Judd

At least Hugh Jackman seems to know he’s not in a necessarily good movie. He is just biding his time until each scene ends and is happy with the work. Not to mention a paycheck.

One can’t get mad at this film totally as it fits its conventions and lets you know what type of film it is. It doesn’t try to misdirect to make itself seem like it has more depth or one-of-a-kind filmmaking. Still even for its genre while competently filmed it is majorly disappointing in most aspects.

By the end, it also makes it obvious that the main character needed the break-up to happen for her to grow. As she would have been noted and settled into marriage with the wrong person in the first place and Even Though would have been happy. She also would have been bored and stuck 

The film is strictly painted by numbers and off the assembly line. I don’t even have that much more to say about it.

Grade: F

CHERRY (2021)

Directed by: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo 
Written By: Jessica Goldenberg & Angela Russo-Otstot 
Based On The Novel By: Nico Walker 
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editor: Jeff Groth

Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Forrest Goodluck, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Rispoli, Michael Gandolfini, Damon Wayans Jr. Kelli Burland, Daniel R. Hill, Pooch Hall, Thomas Lennon

Cherry drifts from college dropout to army medic in Iraq – anchored only by his true love, Emily. But after returning from the war with PTSD, his life spirals into drugs and crime as he struggles to find his place in the world.


It might be that one really wanted this film to succeed. As it is the first film for the Russo brothers directing after THE AVENGERS  movies and a starring role for Tom Holland in a more dramatic role. Not to mention actress Ciara Bravo in a leading female role after the streaming Series WAYNE was unfortunately canceled before it’s time and she was so good on it. That the film’s problems might’ve taken a little more personal. 

While I never read the book. I know it was critically acclaimed and had its fair share of fans. 

This is a clear case of style over substance. As the film gives us a story adapted from the book of the same name.

Though throughout the film flirts with so many different genres a mind types that it never has time to settle into any of them flirting but never quite sealing the deal. As they are just escapades that help us get to the next part of the story.

The film mainly revolves around two characters and at heart is a love story of two people trying to find themselves in one another. While dealing with constant mistakes that seem to get bigger whenever trying to solve the last problem.

It is also a drug addiction story. While the two leads are capable Tom Holland and Ciara bravo they look so young which might be the age of the characters, but they look Ike they are playing dress-up half the time. Especially as their characters get older and for Tom Holland especially the later scenes where he grows a mustache Looks more like make-up than a naturally grown character. Though Ciara bravo tries very hard with her character. Her more adult scenes just never hit home. As she is a good actress.

When it comes to the direction of the film. It is overly stylized which can be appreciated when done with just enough panache. The problem here though is that the story never quite earns it so it usually feels over the top. Though it does give the film an operatic presentation. It feels overdone and at times like it is taking suggestions from other films but is never quite as sharp as those other films. So that even in some scripted scenes that are more comedic it still falls flat.

Even as it tries to base itself on the book and present each new time period in their lives as a new or different chapter. Trying to elevate the material higher.

Even the bank robbery scene has no flair. We get that they are trying to show it’s not like the movies are glamorous or necessarily well thought out, but they just feel lifeless. As the film goes on everything feels familiar but the film keeps trying to present it in a different way that ends up going overboard and not actually adding anything to the overall experience or film. Be

The film seems to go out of its way to show that life isn’t fair as the good moral characters have a way of always having hardships or dying. While the characters who showcase bad moral behavior sometimes are punished but at other times seem to succeed or at least survive. At least In our time with them.

One of the problems is that throughout the movie the scenes feel melodramatic and examples of emotional beats you have seen done bigger and better and more deserved in Other films. Making the film again feel like it is more trying to be like films of this type instead of just being itself. It’s let’s put on a show rather than let’s stay true and tell a story.

It’s not a bad film but like the main character, it feels full of ambition but never quite makes it to where it wants to go or wants to be. Though it is a nice try. It ends up feeling like it is trying to show off to prove it belongs and in doing so showcases why it doesn’t.

It might be that the film feels more like a dramatic graphic novel with its style and with the filmmakers behind it. It just feels like a movie of moments that might have been handled better emotionally,  gritty and dramatic rather than grand and so visual and surreal. 

There is a plan here it just doesn’t match the story or material 

It’s an interesting try that in the end doesn’t quite stick to the landing. By the end, you have a film that will keep your interest but you might not have anything to really grab onto to remember or even truly feel.

Grade: C

HOUSE OF GUCCI (2021)

Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Becky Johnston & Roberto Bentivenga
Based on the Book By: Sara Gay Forden 
Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski
Editor: Claire Simpson 

Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Camille Cottin, Reeve Carney 

When Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.


This should be a movie that could almost guarantee an audience. It has a strong true life story of an emotive that is successful and slowly crumbles. The infighting amongst the family for control of this empire. An outsider who comes in and manipulates everyone and then later a true crime aspect. 

For such an established and pedigree cast this film should be much better. It is grand in style though strangely considering the story should feel epic. Never achieves the heights and power that it should. It never feels rich or full-bodied. 

Now, this is Lady Gaga’s first big starring role after A STAR IS BORN. All eyes are on her as she has the showiest role and while she does ok. It might have been much stronger with a more experienced actress. Who could captivate the audience.

Jared Leto acts like he is in a totally different film. His performance comes off as more comedic but will admit he is the most entertaining part of the film. As with him In Scenes. The film either feels uneven or that it is slipping more into camp at times. 

The film at least allows for other cast members to shine but they rarely come close to being as interesting or captivating. Other than gaga Adam driver has the character who shows the most range in terms of emotions and situations. 

The script fails at times also. As gag’s character at first seems In love and humble and then all of a sudden seems to desire money and success manipulating her husband and the rest of the family. It might have been a little more understandable if the film showed she was a girl who came from much more humble beginnings and once around. Wealth and success she got spoiled and wanted to stay in that environment. Instead of making. It seems like she was a power mad gold digger all of a sudden.

The film feels like it is going through the motions of telling the story rather than being invested in it or the characters. It feels to a matter of fact or more reporting. Even in the good times, you don’t feel heights of joy or happiness. 

The film looks good but never quite as sharp as it should and never achieves the dramatic depth it should. Making it feel like it is constantly missing an ingredient. As it is definitely missing a sense of glamour 

Grade: C+

OLD (2021)

Written for the screen & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Based on the graphic Novel “SANDCASTLE” By Pierre-Oscar Levy & Fredrik Peters
Cinematography: Michael Gioulakis
Editor: Brett M. Reed 

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krepis, Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Daviditz, Aaron Pierre 

A vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. 


I can admit lately M Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who has gotten more interesting with age. I loved UNBREAKABLE but was never really hooked by any of his other films until THE VISIT came around and truly left me transfixed.

This is a movie that is good entertainment even though its story night feels far-fetched for some. Keep in mind this is a movie meant to enjoy and keep your interest. As the film goes along it manages to do that with some shocks, twists, and turns. 

The exotic locale is one of His first films set outside of Philadelphia, his hometown even if the main character’s family is from there. Even if filmed during the pandemic this is the perfect film for watching as it seems inspired by it. Even if this film is based on a graphic novel written years before.

The film is an ensemble even though we mainly follow one family: the parents and kids. How they are changing and reacting and we see others change also. Even though the title and trailers give away the major plot. This is a good film to go in and discover.

As yes there are some over-the-top elements and some do unintentional camp which seems to be something of a regular occurrence in his films. 

This film seems inspired as an either overlong TWILIGHT ZONE episode, a less technical BLACK MIRROR or inspired by LOST. The later of which really hits home with a similar cast member Ken Leung 

Abby Lee’s character seems to always have the worst fate in movies she is in. As she has the most memorable scene in this film that is done with special effects and similarly in NEON DEMON. She has scenes of grotesque violence. She is a sight to see here and comes back hard later in the film. In one of the most truly terrifying scenes. 

As an ensemble, you can already pick who is most likely to be the off-centered crazy one eventually. Just as you can usually predict who will be the victims. The only mystery is when and how. Which might be why most of the cast seems to be foreign actors as too many recognizable names and faces would only leave us to guess more. Whereas here the actors mostly come with no baggage. 

The math of aging doesn’t always seem to match up, but the actors’ performances are always believable and heartfelt. 

There are certain aspects that are easy to predict but the film does offer what seem to be what some might expect exclusively from writer/Director Shamalayan: a twist and a certain darkness. Though I must say that as dark as his material can get there is usually an uplifting ending or an element of one for the characters in the long run.

The ending offers a good explanation that could easily have been something that most could see happening. 

This movie is best viewed without any expectations. Shyamalan’s style is very smooth when it comes to framing, Camerawork, and presentation. Over the years he has maintained twists but they seem less forced and expected. They now feel more natural with the rest of the film. Not necessarily hinging on it as in the past. As his films feel more than that these days. They feel more well-rounded.

By the end this feels like a fun guilty pleasure filled with chills.

Grade: C+

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese 
Written By: Terence Winter 
Based on the Book “The Wolf Of Wall Street” By: Jordan Belfort 
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Shea Whigham, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Aya Cash, Christine Ebersole, Ethan Suplee,  P.J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Jake Hoffman, Rizwan Manji, Thomas Middleditch, Fran Lebowitz 

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.


This film at heart is more of a dark comedy than a drama. Yes, it’s based on a true story and there are many victims in this tale who barely get any attention. As the film’s protagonist is the con-man who ripped them off, but the film feels like no matter what it wants us to root for him and feel for him overall.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances and one of his out-and-out funny comedic performances. As we have never seen him this loose and open in a performance. that truly astonishes

 It’s not only him the film is filled with recognizable actors playing real-life people but while they are characters and three-dimensional they are also played so big that they come off naturally more comedic. Even though their crimes hurt many. As Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jon Berenthal all have their times to shine and at least a scene to highlight. 

At a certain point, they are doing so many illegal things that you can barely tell what is right and what is wrong. As the business they build seems to get off on debauchery and the film treats it as both revelatory letting us participate In The mayhem and experience the 1980’s excess but also giving us enough details to see it as a cautionary tale and see the harsh aftermath for some.

This also is Margot Robbie’s debut and introduction to the public as a sex symbol. Just as Charlize Theron made her debut in the movie 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY. Here at first, you notice Ms. Robbie’s looks then you notice she is actually quite a good actress and one of the memorable ingredients to this movie. 

Now this tale could have been told in a smaller way but just like the main character it must be told larger than life and feel rather epic in size. As it is a rare film where we kind of root for the bad guys. Even if we know they are horrible. As we have been following them from the beginning and in essence living the life of excess with them in the film. So that even when we see them do bad things we have a weakness for them and want to see them succeed even at the expense of others. 

The film feels like a crime spree as it is episodic as we are taken throughout the crimes and how the businessmen stay afloat and the deals they have to make to keep laundering their money and stay on top. The film even follows their international adventures that open up the film to be more global and have more consequences. As they have their overseas adventures. Even with the law on their tails embodied by a character played by Kyle Chandler who seems to be incorruptible and always right behind.

The film even though his character later In The film asks if it is worth it. Being honest and in the straight and narrow. Still having to scrape by when you could easily turn a blind eye, do the wrong thing, and live in Luxury. 

This is the most electrifying and energetic director Martin Scorsese has been with a film. Also, his first film has come close to a comedy since AFTER HOURS. Though the film condemns the characters. The film also has a lot of fun with them. Leaving behind plenty of classic moments. 

The film gets to glorify and highlight the 80’s and 90’s excess and over-the-top nature of business and the stock market. A kind of juvenile version of the movie WALL STREET, but just as powerful and memorable. Only here do you see more behavior outside of the office than necessarily the more business side. Which marks the film all the more attractive. 

In the end, even for a somber tale,  the film is a good time. A misogynistic fantasy that offers what happens after you wake up from the dream and have to pay for it. As the film presents its a tale with the highs like being on drugs but then eventually you have to come down and sober up and the pain of what sobering up feels like. 

GRADE: A

AFTER DARK, MY SWEET (1990)

Directed By: James Foley 
Written By: James Foley & Robert Redlin 
Based on the novel by: Jim Thompson 
Cinematography By: Mark Plummer 
Editor: Howard E. Smith 

 Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern 

An ex-boxer is drifting around after escaping from the mental hospital. He meets a widow who convinces him to help fix up the neglected estate her ex-husband left. Her Uncle talks them both into helping kidnap a rich boy for ransom money, and the ex-fighter must make decisions about his loyalties and what is right. 


This film was built up in my head over the years as a pulpy erotic drama. An undiscovered gem and over the years I avoided it to wait for the right moment to watch and appreciate it. And with that decision, I feel I doomed this movie to a level t could never live up to. I was Correct It’s not a bad film. 


 I like Rachel ward who I have been a fan of ever since the kidnapping thriller FORTRESS from the ’80s. Yes, I was into that 80’s fad of being interested in Australian culture. So her being in a erotic thriller. You would have thought I would jump at the chance to watch it as soon as possible. 

 I like how minimal this film is, for a major release it has a relatively small cast and really feels like it takes place in a small town and community. James Foley expertly directs it. The color schemes of the backgrounds are rich and styled.
 I like the fact that the kidnapping plot of the film is dealt with as more of a side plot in the background to developing the characters and the drama between them. 

 I really enjoyed Jason Patric’s performance our protagonist who we don’t even know if he is all there mentally. The other characters are intense as you never know if you can trust them entirely. Constantly wondering are on the level or deceiving. So it makes the situations more interesting.

I almost wish Jason Patric’s character could be used in a television series of movies. That’s how interesting he is and maybe get a chance to learn about his past more.  One of my problems with the film is for a film advertised as being erotic there is one graphic sex scene that isn’t very long. It’s quiet and is more than halfway through the film and more passionate than anything else. 

 I also found myself lost a few times as in the film as far as the plot. It’s a slow film as dry as the land it takes place on. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. 

 It’s not a total disappointment but I can’t say that I entirely like it. It’s worth checking out. 

 GRADE: B-

WHITE OF THE EYE (1987)

Directed By: Donald Cammell

Written By: Donald Cammell & China Cammell Based on the novel “MRS. WHITE” By: Andrew Klavan & Laurence Klavan

Cinematography: Larry McConkey

Editor: Terry Rawlings

Cast: David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg, Art Evans, Alberta Watson, William G. Schilling, Mimi Lieber, Michael Greene, Danielle Smith 

In a wealthy and isolated desert community, a sound expert is targeted as the prime suspect of a series of brutal murders of local suburban housewives who were attacked and mutilated in their homes. As he desperately tries to prove his innocence, his young wife starts to uncover mysteries of her own…


This film is like a jazz album. One can’t quite get into or find the correct beat to connect with to groove with it. 

This film was recommended by quite a few people. Especially as it is one of the few films directed by Donald Cammell a popular writer and director of cult films such as PERFORMANCE.

As his films are usually out there it’s expected that his films will be a bit crazy. This one Certainly is it commits the sin of being boring for most of the film Until a totally bonkers ending. Which still doesn’t save the film as a whole. 

The film shows its Giallo influences only when it uses them in the daylight. These scenes are the only time the film comes alive and its artistic touches work to its advantage. Other times it seems like a film that is pretty Mainstream and more a studio product but presented in a style that feels peculiar and not for the better. That comes off pretty bland the first 2 thirds of the Film.

The camera work is unpredictable which is a thrill. It keeps you alert. Even the casting is inspired but in the end, the ingredients are there, but the dish served comes up short.

What saves the film somewhat or at least keeps you watching is David Keith’s performance that goes from mundane to romantic to off the wall. 

Alan Rosenberg doesn’t fare as well as he comes off like a New York stereotype at first who is dim-witted and then later comes across as a new age burnout. 

Cathy morality gets a chance to not play her usually big-haired villain or tough New York City girl. Here she gets a chance to just play normally as the lead who might be a little too trusting, but other than Be the audience’s introduction to the events and revelations she is given little to work with or do with her character to make an impression.

It also doesn’t help that this film is supposed to be sexy and have a lot of sex and half the time it is usually the opposite and the seduction doesn’t seem to raise the temperature. Even the sex scenes take a while for the audience to realize what they are doing.

The film’s theme seems to be nature vs commercialism. Which represents more of an Avant-garde film abs approach that eases into trappings of the more ridiculous commercialism. 

By the end the film made me come up with some thoughts when it comes to films such as these.  Where it seems we will make excuses for ourselves to explain why we just sat through all of this, but rationalize what we have seen by giving it artistic credentials because it tries to be artistic and different. When it did take a gamble that was misguided. Ultimately it might actually be bad but if the filmmaker had success before there must be some kind of deeper point 

Usually viewed by an audience who expected it. Usually mostly caucasian looking at it analytically abs since it speaks to them or is identifiable it must be good abs preached upon. 

GRADE: F

THE PAPERBOY (2012)

Directed By: Lee Daniels 
Written By: Lee Daniels & Pete Dexter 
Based On The Book By: Pete Dexter 
Cinematography By: Roberto Schaefer 
 Editor: Joe Klotz 


 Cast: Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, Ned Bellamy

Eldest son Ward Jansen is a star reporter for a Miami newspaper and has returned home with close friend Yardley to investigate a racial murder case. Younger brother Jack Jansen has returned home after a failed stint at university as a star swimmer. To help give his life some direction, Ward gives Jack a job on their investigation as their driver. But into the mix comes the fiancée of the imprisoned convict who stirs up confusing feelings of love and lust for the young Jack. Meanwhile, Ward and Yardley’s investigation stirs up
deep-rooted issues of race and acceptance which could cause serious consequences for everyone involved.


This film that deemed to start out as a thriller, Quickly seems to spiral into a no man’s land that resembles more of a misguided Grind-house film more than anything else. The sad part is what seems at first to become earnest filmmaking quickly delves into some kind of camp classic

As the film continues the outline is about proving a man might be innocent. It mostly focuses not only on the politics, but the coming of age tale of Zac Efron’s character. It also concerns itself with building and defining the characters.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Lee Daniels as a Director yet, but watching this film. Just like in PRECIOUS. It feels like he puts in too many surrealistic seeming camera tricks and angles that become distracting and unneeded when the film could have just told the story.

It feels like a person just out of film school. Who feels the need to how off or insert things that aren’t really needed in a way to impress. Like a college student writing a paper with too many big words misused trying to impress. I see it as him trying and learning new things behind the camera thinking the audience will be amazed as much as he is using them. The other problem is it plays like a drama then wants to be a thriller, but only at certain times and wanting to represent race relations of that period.

In fact the film begins with Macy Gray playing a maid who is being questioned about a book dedicated to her. now it feels like an interrogation that is really used to give her character a reason to voice over the film. Other then that the opening scene amounts to nothing later in the film. No real reason to be there. There are a bunch of scenes like that throughout the film. Some are what help to bring out the ridiculousness of the film. This film could have been a sort of hard-boiled thriller and mystery if it didn’t seem to get distracted by becoming a Coming of Age film that has the look of a WONDER YEARS episode while parading Zac Efron around in his underwear. I am sure what might have worked on the page here comes off more silly and misguided. The film often times seems confusing or confused itself.

Pedro Almodóvar was several times approached to helm this project and seriously considered to make it his first English-speaking feature. He finally declined but, allegedly, he participated in early versions of the script. He might have been the one to balabce the camp with the drama and thriller elements without making it laughable.

Just as it could have been more believable if John Cusack’s character wasn’t as physically repulsive as he morally.

Alex Pettyfer was first choice for the role of Jack.

Tobey Maguire was cast as Ward but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. Luckily for him.

Nicole Kidman replaced Sofía Vergara. Which might have pushed it into a more straight to DVD title though the lust factor would have been more understandable. Though explaining her characters origin and why a so called racist would correspond with her would take more then a bit of explaining.

It plays like camp, but tries to be taken seriously which makes it even worse. Though Nicole Kidman seems to be the only one who realizes or is comfortable with having fun and sending it all up, While trying to create a realistic character.

scenes like

Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron to combat his jellyfish stings.

Nicole Kidman masturbating in a jailhouse visit to John Cusack who also masturbates and we see the aftermath of

The film just feels dirty and unnecessary as it’s based on a hard-boiled mystery novel that seems to forget it’s premise. The film feels all over the place, for all of this ridiculousness and shocking scenes that come once on awhile between it is really dull, though gives Zac Efron no real reason to run around constantly only in underwear.

The film gives John Cusack a chance to embarass himself by looking really bad and dirty. Inhabiting a bad caricature of a character.

Matthew McConaughey’s character has an interesting arc that is shockingly Introduced then slightly dropped or pushed out of favor.

The key defining point of this tawdry tale is Nicole Kidman and her character. She gives the role her all and is impressive as a trashy femme-fatale. Overly made up with make up that looks like it was applied by herself an it is messy. She is a scary, but also a scene stealer. She deserves a oscar nomination for her determination and grounding as she stays true to the character throughout and somehow finds a way to fit in.While actually creating a character to care about

The film you think would be ripe for camp, bit it is so underplayed and then serious there isn’t room to enjoy it on a camp level.

In the third act the film revs up to be a thinker then just runs out of steam and ends with no great drama. Leaving us with a whimper.

While I can’t really recommend the film. I will say it is a film to see. To see something hopefully one of a kind. Some might find entertainment from it. Which is why I can’t completely fail it. I believe it shows lee Daniels a former film producer is still leading as a director At least he is trying unlike some directors

 Grade: D

JOHNNY COOL (1963)

Directed By: William Asher
Written By: John McPartland
Based On the novel “The Kingdom of Johnny Cool” By: Joseph London
Cinematography: Sam Leavitt
Editor: Otto Ludwig

Cast: Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis Jr., Elisha Cook Jr., John Dierks, Jim Backus, Richard Anderson, Joey Bishop, Brad Dexter

Colini, An exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed “Johnny Cool,” Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini’s list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta.


Th is is a great and beautiful gangster film that I have heard anything about going into it and glad I didn’t. Didn’t have a hype to love up to but was thoroughly entertained and by the end shocked I had never heard of it. Even with it’s a more groovy sounding title. It’s a tight little thriller. This a surprisingly brutal and dark-hearted mob movie where no one gets away scot-free or clean.

You would think this based on a graphic novel made today. As the protagonist at the heart of this tale is a kind of anti-hero sent to do a mission but also has plans of his own. So in the beginning, while the film wants ya to feel for him by the end he has become a villain himself with no happy ending in sight.

The film ends with sorrow as even the innocent character played by Elizabeth Montgomery could have gotten away with her parts in the crimes but ends up being the only honest character and ends up paying the price.

What is interesting about her character is that her character is truthful ashamed and disgusted by the actions of her boyfriend Johnny cool. But she knows if he showed up right then and there it would be impossible to resist him. So she is self-aware realistically.

The assassination and action scenes are riveting and don’t usually show too much violence more alludes to them.  The film has an old school charm where even dealing in the underworld With plenty of doubles crosses everyone comes off dignified and sharp.

This is half a rat pack film as it has small roles played by Sammy Davis jr who also sings a few songs on the soundtrack and Joey bishop plays a small pivotal role, as well as the film Was produced by peter Lawford. Plus Henry Silva playing the title role. has co-Starred in many frank Sinatra and rat pack films. Playing various races in films over the years. 
 

This film is a little known gem that deserves to be seen and appreciated more. 

Grade: B-