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 gaga’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. Though Can only go so far as Based ona true story

The film feels like it lacks the glamour and indulgence. It’s pretty much a television movie with a star name cast and more of a budget and even has scenes to help individualize the characters

It might be that wanting to show her more rags to riches we see glimpses  of the power and fortune and are left with more the gaudy and rather basic indulgences and keep i everything smaller with lesser volumes as far as size of story making it feel more personal 

As far as star casting she is in the middle of it all and does fine but needs a bigger star for us to indulge in. Went to tell a mroe realistic story instead of letting it either go to camp or makign it more about the Star than the story ala evita and with lady Gaga can see it as that kind of film where it could be but here the peers that be were more interested in story and details 

Which might disappoint her audience but for fans wanting to learn the story or look for this to be a mroe all around film night prefer it

When dealing with a film about a known empire of fashion. Most expect a film More of style than substance. Maybe the thinking of the filmmakers was to be more restrained as style would be expected. As the story itself was so wild in the first place.

In the end it ends up not only a true crime drama that only showcases that aspect in the last third. As the first third is a romance and rags to riches story and the middle is indulgence but after all is said and done it is ultimately a tragedy. Where the new element brought the house down, but also everyone’s individual greed is their own worst enemies that becomes personified in the end 

The film Works on many different levels for the audience star power as she has a best actress nomination. She has to be jsit as good as her cast memebers making her bring more of an a game as most of these actors are good even on their worst days

Her power of celebrity brings most of they punter audience even if not for die hard fans there is that element for others to see if she is up to par with her co-stars 

It would only be more heightened if she had performed a song for the soundtrack which might have helped the film financially but then would have come over even more as a vanity project 

Having Al Pacino in a movie set in Italy and with a crime drama background already poses sea the stereotype of somehow involving the mob. Luckily when it comes to him and his pedigree he is associated only with illustrious films about the mob that are mroe legendary

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+

THE RECRUIT (2003)

Directed By: Roger Donaldson
Written By: Robert Towne, Mitch Glazer & Kurt Wimmer
Cinematography By: Stuart Dryburgh
Editor: David Rosenbloom 

Cast: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Ron Lea, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht

In an era when the country’s first line of defense, intelligence, is more important than ever, this story opens the CIA’s infamous closed doors and gives an insider’s view into the Agency: how trainees are recruited, how they are prepared for the spy game, and what they learn to survive. James Clayton might not have the attitude of a typical recruit, but he is one of the smartest graduating seniors in the country – and he’s just the person that Walter Burke wants in the Agency. James regards the CIA’s mission as an intriguing alternative to an ordinary life, but before he becomes an Ops Officer, James has to survive the Agency’s secret training ground, where green recruits are molded into seasoned veterans. As Burke teaches him the ropes and the rules of the game, James quickly rises through the ranks and falls for Layla, one of his fellow recruits. But just when James starts to question his role and his cat-and-mouse relationship with his mentor… 


The film could have been a good espionage spy film. If it had made any sense. This is one of those films that starts off well then wants to be different than the rest of these types. So that it induces a twist into the plot then another one, Then another one. Soon there are so many double-crosses that you forget who is on whose side. There is no reason to justify any of the double-crosses.

When the film ends it tries to tie everything together in a neat little bow. Hoping you forget all the nonsense that went on before it and just say the plot was all a conspiracy. If the point of all of the confusion was to make the film and characters’ paranoia seem truthful and make the audience question everything then it had achieved what it set out to be. 

Though it is not exciting at all with Basic runoff the mill action sequences. The shameful this is that this movie could have been good. You have a director Roger Donaldson who hasn’t had any luck with Hollywood films (The Getaway) but is actually a skilled director (The Bank Job). 

He shows a great deal of talent with his projects that are independently funded, but here he just makes things look sharp and nice but with no real input. It has the feel of an espionage film and the look. The film just falls short so that you stop caring due to confusion and what ends up not making any sense. 

At first, what is interesting in the film becomes tedious as the movie goes on. Colin Farrell is what I consider his blue period where he made a bunch of Hollywood projects in roles that any actor could have played. He was a struggling actor who was thrust into the limelight and was taking any lead that was offered to him. He has tremendous talent, yet he brings nothing really to the film or role. He is just going through the motions. 

Strangely this film feels outdated watching it now. As it seems to be trying to stay in step with what was cutting edge at the time.

This is especially strange when watching a film meant to be an espionage tale. As usually they are more sharp. Understandably they wanted to fit in with the current trends and technology but in the long run hurt the films future and legacy. Truly making this movie feel all the more disposable.


The shocking thing is that the script was written (And I suspect heavily rewritten) By 3 Highly talented Screenwriters and script doctors. I don’t know what went wrong exactly but other than the clever Kurt Vonnegut references the film is heavily disappointing. 

Al Pacino is clearly having fun as Colin’s Machiavellian mentor who is chewing the scenery left and right with his overacting. Al Pacino has been doing this overacting schtick. So long he has turned it into his own art form. That only he can do. It’s like a one-man show. It used to be just his acting now his hair and all of its different outrageous styles and size are just as distracting. I respect him he is still a good actor who shows the talent we all know he has once in a while.

I guess as he gets older if he knows the project is beneath him or is just really a paycheck. He doesn’t really bother giving it his all he just has fun with it. It just seems like he is damaging his brand, His career is legendary and once you could always give a movie the benefit of the doubt if the film was bad you could rely on his performance being good. Now it is all a wild card. 

 Skip it 

 GRADE: D

TWO FOR THE MONEY (2005)

Directed By: D.J. Caruso
Written By: Dan Gilroy
Cinematography By: Conrad W. Hall
Editor: Glen Scantlebury

Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Jaime King, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Ralph Garman, Gedde Watanabe, Carly Pope

Brandon Lang loves football: an injury keeps him from the pros, but his quarterback’s anticipation makes him a brilliant predictor of games’ outcomes. Needing money, he leaves Vegas for Manhattan to work for Walter Abrams advising gamblers. Walter has a doting wife, a young daughter, and a thriving business, but he has problems: a bum heart, a belief he’s a master manipulator, and addictions barely kept in check. He remakes Brandon, and a father-son relationship grows. Then, things go awry. Walter may be running a con. The odds against Brandon mount.


This film feels like a classic Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer film of the 80’s. Where they try to jazz up a subject that they over produce and make everything about the subject wise, spiritual and artistic. A way of life that at any moment can bring life or death. The subject here… Professional sports betting. So it ends up being Much ado about nothing. Though it makes it feel like it’s important what we are watching.

Based on the true story of Brandon Long.

The film is so far-fetched, but at times wants you to take it very seriously there’s no real stakes. Though the film tries to make the audience feel like there are big ones. As there is no real plot. There is a story, but not much. It’s just ridiculous while taking itself so seriously.

I give Matthew McConaughey credit for momentarily at the time breaking out of his usual romantic comedies to try something that requires a little more skill. Before he broke out more majorly around 2012. Too bad this dramatic material isn’t any better than the films he was starring in at the time. By rest assured the film still finds a reason to have him half naked half the time. Because other than being a genius bookie. He is a workout fanatic.

Though it has plenty of scenes showing Matthew McConaughey working out intensely that has nothing to do with the story. It’s a nice character trait, though we don’t really need as much time devoted to it. Though I suspect this was a way to cross promote the film to McConaughey’s heavy female fan base

This is the classic formula boy is talented he is taken to the dark side under the wings of a hero. Gets cocky takes a fall. Fights his way back up. The only thing missing is he doesn’t meet a girl and fall in love. Which gives him his confidence back instead on his own. Instead of through the love Is a good woman. Here he sleeps around (giving us again a bunch of scenes for him to have his shirt off with some day player actress/model who matches him in good looks) flirts with his mentors wife. Who gives him the good advice he needs in a more mothering nature. Since it’s Rene Russo and she Is top billed I am guessing that is why there is no real love interest. She plays that role without being physically intimate at all. It might be also because Rene Russo’s husband, Dan Gilroy, wrote the part of Al Pacino’s wife Toni especially for Russo and tailored it to fit her perfectly. He even used Russo’s real-life sister’s name Toni as the name of the character.

Al Pacino plays his mentor in his unfortunately now typical overacting and distracting hair and histrionics in his performance, but still gets the best one liners. He is not as embarassing here as he can be in other films.

The way the film was advertised is like this was going to be the dramatic team-up we have been waiting for PACINO – McConaughey when I think of good, possibly legendary dramatic actors to star in a film together those names don’t belong there. More so now that McConaughey has an Academy Award and accolades and is earning a more respectable pedigree due to the material he chooses to be in. But at the time he didn’t have any of that. In this film at the time, I could see If, Pacino was matched with Edward Norton or Johnny Depp even Matt Damon. Who at the time I would believe would have turned this popcorn time waster down. Though it shines a point that at the time when 2 stars were in a film together they played up that fact. Now that more and more co-star usually in superhero movies it seems more expected or not as much a spectacle as it once was.

It’s a shame that I like director DJ Caruso I loved his film THE SALTON SEA, but he hasn’t really made a film as original or noteworthy between this, DISTURBIA and EAGLE EYE. This film seems like a day job for him. No excitement no enthusiasm not flair. Any director could have made this film. That is how impersonal it feels

It’s a film that would have been hot in the 80’s well-remembered and not know why they like it so much, but for some odd reason do. Sort of like DAYS OF THUNDER. If you were to really examine it you would realize how bad it is. This film would fit right in as It seems to believe and exploit what was big and popular especially the attitudes of that time.

The film does have a lot of gloss. It’s shiny and pretty. This gloss is The kind of thing that is used to cover up mistakes or cracks in something or to hide Certain things, like the fact of how bad this movie is. They try I use foundation to cover up its blemishes, That if you look close you can see.

if you must see it please wait for television.

Grade: D

DANNY COLLINS (2015)

dannycollins2

Written & Directed By: Dan Fogelman 

Cinematography: Steve Yedlin 

Editor: Julie Monroe 

Cast: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner, Nick Offerman, Melissa Benoist, Josh Peck, Katarina Cas, Giselle Eisenberg, Brian Thomas Smith, Scott Lawrence 


Inspired by a true story, Al Pacino stars as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.


Inspired by the story of singer Steve Tilston, who learned of the existence of a letter that John Lennon had written to him 34 years after the letter was written.

The film is a feel good film that feels a little like a fantasy but is a heart warmer and feels lived in. Will admit this is an easy film to overlook. as once you see the trailer you feel like you have it all figured out. Though once you watch it you are shocked at how much it grabs a hold of you and moves you.

Al Pacino shines in his role her where he gives a heaviness to a role that could be easily written off as lightweight. He gives it his all and makes a charismatic sympathetic character who could have been more comedic. Though the fact that he isn’t makes us pay attention and wonder.

The previews for this film focused more on the romantic angle between him and Annette Bening’s Character but as the film progresses that is only one part of this character study. As most of the drama revolves around him and his estranged son’s relationship.

There are plenty of isn’t that convenient moments but in the end the film leaves you with a smile on your face. As it is a film that could be a family film Except that is some scenes it goes out of it’s Way to show you the material is more adult with drug use and a scene of nudity.

The film lightly explores being afraid of challenging yourself and taking the easy way out. While also asking not o hard if you have built up a reputation for making others happy but it doesn’t make you happy anymore. Do you still owe the people what they want or are you allowed to let yourself be happy and express yourself even if it’s it in a way that others are used to or might not even approve of and try to deny.

Christopher Plummer is good as always and it’s fun to see him play more of a tough guy.

For such a noted cast this is actually kind of lightweight material. Though for the most part they are the true reason to watch this. As they give the material the respect even though they are above it to a certain aspect.

Though in the end this is feel good entertainment with a little bit of an edge and basically gives the cast an easy walk with letting them play characters who are more lived in and having the younger cast members play smaller roles that are more like sketches of characters.

It also asks how much do you owe your audience as they are the ones who supported you and admire you, but ho much do you owe them when you want to express yourself more truthfully and honestly though that stands at odds with what your audience wants or will even let you do. Who is more in control especially when you have given them years and been made rich off of it but aren’t being true to yourself.

Grade: C+