READY TO WEAR (PRET-A-PORTER) (1994)

Directed By: Robert Altman 
Written By: Robert Altman & Barbara Shulgasser
Cinematography: Jean Lepine & Pierre Mignot
Editor: Suzy Elmiger & Geraldine Peroni

Cast: Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Lili Taylor, Forest Whitaker, Richard E. Grant, Rupert Everett, Kim Basinger, Sally Kellerman, Tracy Ullman, Lauren Bacall,  Linda Hunt, Stephen Rea, Ute Lemper, Lyle Lovett, Teri Garr, Danny Arielle, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Amouk Aimee, Chiara Mastroianni, Rossy De Palma, Michel Blanc, Jean Rochefort, Francois Cluzet, Sam Robarbs, Georgianna Robertson 

A fashion show in Paris draws the usual bunch of people; designers, reporters, models, magazine editors, photographers. Lots of unconnected stories which all revolve around this show, and an all-star cast.


This was my third official Robert Altman movie to see. Though unfortunately not in a row. I remember the film having a successful music video and soundtrack before it even came out. Unfortunately the movie didn’t match the soundtrack’s success. That included the hit single “HERE COMES THE HOT STEPPER” 

After the success of THE PLAYER it seemed like Robert Altman was having a comeback and he wanted to take on another world/culture. His last film was SHORT CUTS and that was more interlocking stories then taking a look into or try to dismantle another popular subculture from the inside. That was more foreign abs international but also glamorous.

Allowing him to use his dual methods of ensemble casts. Where even though the actors are playing characters here it feels more like an out and out comedy. So they are all over the top. Not as serious, nor are there any serious moments throughout. 

It might be understandable him taking on this movie after the more serious and sad SHORT CUTS, but while this is more lighthearted it also is a challenge. As this would be his most mainstream film in a while. As he was taking on a subject that was very popular and most audiences might not be used to his films and their outlook. 

This film is set in that world of fashion to tell ongoing stories and big inertia where the characters cross paths. All in all, it stays humorous with Kim Basinger playing an on air television reporter. Who comes in and out to explain certain relationships but is clueless about fashion. So that it feels like a replay of the reporter in the film NASHVILLE.

The film ultimately never encapsulates any meaning or why we are so enraptured by the glitz, glamour and celebrity of the fashion world. So that in the end it comes across as misguided and empty as the world he is capturing. As fashion constantly reinvents itself. It proves there are No rules and seemingly no depth. Not to mention watching this film feels dated. It’s very episodic. 

Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren get to reference classic scenes and relationships from their career and previous collaborations and give a scene where you believe they are remaking a classic moment only for it to end with a joke. 

Which is pretty much the mood of the film. As all plots and stories seem to end in that kind of manner. 

The film’s cast as usual is filled with stars. The biggest of whom seem here in an unneeded story but help make it more commercial. As Tim Robbins and Julia Robert’s seem stuck here in a bad afterthought of a romantic comedy plot line.

This film seems to find Robert Altman riding his high horse. This film goes for more populism but leaves viewers puzzled. As it is more artistic and voyeuristic than plotted.

This film is like a bunch of short stories stretched over fashion week. 

The film is flashy and appeals to itself but ultimately is frustrating, especially with all the talent involved. Where you are left to wonder what could have been. 

Everyone is well dressed but we are left as confused as Kim Basinger’s reporter. Where we wonder what this was all about. 

It seems like the director was unfocused but having fun. Filled with recognizable names, good actors, supermodels and models of the time. Where the film feels flirtatious as it always has a wink to give off 

Can’t tell if the film was rushed or cut together fast with a murder mystery in the middle that largely takes a backseat or is forgotten. Ultimately the film comes across as a farce. That feels like it is being made up as it goes along. Though with a stylish hand guiding it. Who leaves to perplex the audience. 

Grade: C+

SOUTHPAW (2015)

Directed By: Antoine Fuqua 
Written By: Kurt Sutter 
Cinematography By: Mauro Fiore 
Editor: John Refoua 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Knapp, Miguel Gomez, Dominick Colon, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Victor Ortiz, Rita Ora

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from IMDb among other sources In this review

As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.


Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is the strength of the film and provides a kind of new type of performance from him. That makes him seem more brutal and streetwise. Speaks as more of a brawler. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t give him much to work with nor does it rise to the sorts of depth that he tries to showcase. As the film ends up becoming more of a combination of well-intended and dressed-up cliches. That makes the film constantly feel familiar, yet ends up becoming formulaic.

As soon as Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson shows up we know all we need to know about his character and where most likely the story is going. As everyone seems to play their character by the book. Which again makes the film come off as paint by numbers. Where here they try to color outside of the edges time to time to throw off where the movie is going. For instance a scene or two where it seems like the film might go the revenge route and quickly drops that side of the story. I am guessing as to his spiritual well-being and beating up the guy’s friend in the ring will be the ultimate revenge?

His wife’s murder subplot is a major point of the film. As it introduces the revenge-justice angle of the story but after that, it never answers many of the questions the audience has. Like what happened to the guy? Was he caught as the entourage seemed to rush him out. Also, I know it is easy to set his opponent up as a major villain, but his look of shock could have opened up the movie dramatically as to what he is going to do about this. Turn his friend in? Hide him And disavow him. That is a major dramatic opportunity dropped. We never even really see it affect him other than that moment and leaves you to wonder if he was just shocked, thinking they were just busting each other’s chops and this fool brought it to a place it didn’t bleed to be or wondering will this hurt his career? As is it only sets up a well-earned rivalry. As it is Gyllenhaal enemies’ camp fault for the death.

So that it seems the film keeps coming up with interesting ideas and abandoning them. To either keep the movie streamlined and moving forward or were scared to go off the path that might have added something new to the mix and made it at least more noteworthy.

It seems the child bonding scenes are here to give the main character something to strive for and keep him going throughout. As well as show his sensitive side and add a heartwarming element to the film.

Strangely the film seemed to be set up to be an awards season challenger and THE boxing movie of the year, but CREED seemed to be the one that no one saw coming to take that title, An underdog itself.

While that takes shape on the side the film adds a child surrogate for him to bond with as it ends up having little to no reason. As it eliminates it later for emotional manipulation, but as it was never built too strongly. So that it just adds up to a challenging scene that asks us to get emotional for something. And someone that wasn’t properly or strongly introduced in the first place. That just seems to reinforce the fact that these are some mean streets. Embrace them, but try to get away from them also. In other words, don’t forget where you came from.

We envy get the grizzled old trainer played by Forest Whitaker whose character is tough but loving and likes a drink now and then.

The film uses the fight as a representation of revenge and redemption. It also encourages the reunion with his child. On that end the film again becomes not only cliche but convenient as the social worker he is dealing with at first seems gruffer with him. Though all of a sudden with no real reason, she does an about-face and is one of his biggest supporters. A dramatic decision that isn’t seen or earned.

The film has plenty of workout scenes to show the brutality of trading but gives the men credit for the toughness and bravado shown. Letting the audience have a more physical reaction to the actors physical (it seems) transformation. I am sure it also helps to convince the audience to be attracted to the star even more.

The boxing scenes are more about brutality and seem to want to come off more as street fights that is how vicious they look at times.

Though the film eventually becomes monotonous as it seems to get in its own way too often that not even the impressive visuals can save.

“Southpaw” is the term given to unorthodox stance (left-handed) boxers. However, Jake Gyllenhaal is right-handed, therefore orthodox. He only adopts the southpaw stance in the final fight, under instruction from his trainer Which even seems like a premeditated conclusion for the title.

As the film was first offered to star Eminem as an unofficial follow-up to 8 MILE. One can see how as the character has many similarities to him as far as the public knows about him and fits the themes of his songs. Closeness to his daughter, growing up on the mean streets, becoming successful and still not being entirely happy, having many enemies who seem to come for him. Having an entourage, going down the road of drugs and booze that seems to almost destroy him, making a comeback. Though Eminem did work on the soundtrack and wrote 2 songs for the film

It’s a film that could have been interesting, but we have seen it way before. Even if it tries to offer a different take then ROCKY a more street smart, tougher and violent one. It just offers nothing new. Other than an opportunity to see a movie star stretch.

Maybe as it seems to try and at the time seek out awards contention. That might be the reason the film feels so stuffed. As it goes overboard in trying to impress the audience. Instead of just being itself and going where the story could naturally lead.

Grade: C-

SPECIES (1995)

Directed By: Roger Donaldson
Written By Dennis Feldman 
Cinematography: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Editor: Conrad Buff

Cast: Natasha Henstridge, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Forest Whitaker, Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger, Michelle Williams 

In 1993, during a search for extraterrestrial life, a transmission was received, detailing an alien DNA structure, along with instructions on how to splice it with human DNA. The result is Sil, a sensual but deadly creature who can change from a beautiful woman to an armor-plated killing machine in the blink of an eye. Government agent Xavier Fitch assembles a team of scientists and mercenaries to locate and destroy Sil before she manages to find a mate and breed.


This film is one that might take you by surprise at how enjoyable it is.

One of the few times Michael Madsen has been the good guy but also essentially playing the hero. A kind of romantic one 

This is the movie that I believe started all the police procedural such as CSI were to solve the case was seen as a team effort and we saw how much each team member’s work helps to solve the crime that the star will get full credit for as the leader. Ironically one of the stars of CSI co-Stars in this film.

We get to learn about each member of the team and they each get their chance to shine some less triumphantly. Though forest Whitaker’s character is the one who has more of a psychic link with her. Which bumps his character up as much more needed in scenes. Madsen is the leader but mostly the action hero in this scenario. 

Ben Kingsley is the boss who gets them all together but can’t be trusted as every decision seems shady for the rest of them.

Essentially making this more an ensemble movie, with a cast of well-known character actors, but majorly focused on the alien played in a glamorous debut by Natasha Henstridge. As she tries to find a mate to procreate and inhabit the earth.

So it’s like a fantasy turned nightmare scenario. Whereas most films find this plot more through horror. This film also goes the sci-for horror route but also leaves room for fantasy. As in most films it is finding a mate or person and using them but maybe getting caught or the person dies before the process can happen. Here most of the men she encounters unfortunately are not good enough or don’t have the goods for what she needs.

This film has its fair share of tension and action to keep you interested and it has an alien character designed by H.R. Giger who created the alien Look for ALIEN 

The film has its fair share of exciting action and chase scenes but also leaves room for there to also be a bit of horror throughout. This alien is like a slasher but only truly kills when she is threatened in defense. 

Followed by an inferior sequel that just changes the sex around and seems crueler and oddly like they had less money which never comes as close to fun as this film has at least for the audience. 

This is an original and enjoyable action Science fiction movie. They don’t feel like a carbon copy. One which I saw In The theaters and made a huge impression on me. The film is never boring and keeps you entertained and interested. 

Only wish Natasha Henstridge got roles just as good as this one again. Even though her character is in the end a villain. You do care about her character and root for her a bit. No matter what her actions, plus at times she comes across as innocent snd shows some kind of humanity before she becomes more of a predator. 

Grade: B

PANIC ROOM (2005)

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Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: David Koep
Cinematography: Conrad W. Hall & Darius Khondji
Editor: James Haygood & Angus Wall 


Cast: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam, Patrick Bauchau, Ann Magnuson, Paul Schulze, Mel Rodriguez, Ian Buchanan 


Recently divorced Meg Altman and her daughter Sarah have bought a new home in New York. On their tour around the mansion, they come across the panic room. A room so secure, that no one can get in. When three burglars break in, Meg makes a move to the panic room. But all her troubles don’t stop there. The criminals know where she is, and what they require the most in the house is in that very room.

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SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (2018)

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Written & Directed By: Boots Riley
Cinematography By: Doug Emmett
Editor: Terel Gibson 


Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yuen, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Kate Berlant, Danny Glover, Robert Longstreet, Michael X. Sommers, Forest Whitaker, Rosario Dawson, David Cross, Lily James, Patton Oswalt  


In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.

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