Day 353: The Hustler (1961)

hustler1961-3I can’t believe that out 52 Sundays in year that after today there is only one Sunday left in the whole entire year. So for this week’s Sunday At The Classics, I decided to check out the pool hall classic from Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid) in The Hustler. Fast Eddie Felson (Newman) is one of the best pool hall hustlers around that is looking for that match up that could make him the big money. One match with the best around in Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) sends Eddie into a downward spiral that leaves him broke with no manager. A chance meeting with a girl (Piper Laurie) at the bus station begins to show him that there is more to life then just winning and losing and Eddie then begins his comeback. The film also stars George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) as Bert Gordon, Myron McCormick (The Fight For Life) as Charlie, Murray Hamilton (Jaws) as Findley, Michael Constantine (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Big John, Stefan Gierasch (High Plains Drifter) as Preacher, Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull) as Bartender, Vincent Gardenia (Little Shop Of Horrors) as Bartender, and the film was directed by Robert Rossen (The Roaring Twenties).

paul-newman-the-hustler-1961There is definitely a reason why this is a must see film and a absolute classic. The sequence in the beginning of the film between Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats was absolutely amazing and it kept you hooked because you wanted to see who would quit first. The relationship between Piper Laurie’s character Sarah and Fast Eddie was also a fascinating aspect of the film because they were theoretically not made for each other, but then again maybe they were. There’s the old adage that women love the bad boys and maybe she was experiencing that, but she was such a benefit for him more than he was for her. The acting in the film was phenomenal and you have to love the camera work in this film because the shots always looked so full and they painted the various settings just right. You felt like you were in an actual dingy smoke infested pool hall the whole time you were watching. In a way in this film, you were hopeful of Eddie, but he could definitely frustrate you which is why I loved the story of the film. They had all the right conflicts and sub plots to keep you hooked from beginning to end. One of the other things I loved about this film is the very end during the credit sequence when everyone except George C. Scott leaves the pool hall by the end of the credits. You’ll find out why for yourself, but I thought it was poetic justice. I need to check out The Color Of Money (which is the sequel), but give this one a watch while you are it. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.

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Day 313: Wag The Dog (1997)

wag-the-dogToday is November 8TH and that can only mean one thing in the United States Of American and that it’s Election Day 2016. So to help celebrate the fact that it’s Election Day, I decided to watch a film that had to do with campaigns and such and that film is 1997’s Wag The Dog. It’s election time and the President of the United States has landed himself in hot water when a scandal breaks out. To try and help keep away the backlash of the scandal, the presidents trusted aides decide to hire famous spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro). Brean will come up with a brilliant scheme to take away the attention with eccentric producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman), but the question is can they pull it off? The film also stars Anne Heche (Volcano) as Winifred Ames, Denis Leary (Suicide Kings) as Fad King, Willie Nelson as Johnnie Dean, Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Liz Butsky, Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) as Stacey Lime, William H. Macy (Fargo) as CIA Agent Young, John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher) as John Levy, Woody Harrelson (Rampart) as SGT. Schumann, Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place) as Amy Cain, David Koechner (Paul) as Director, and the film was directed by Barry Levinson (Rock The Kasbah).

wtdI have to say that putting Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman on the same screen was a brilliant idea. They played off of each other so well and you could definitely see the chemistry between them. I had to look it up for myself, but these two have only been in four films together (Sleepers, Meet The Fockers, and Little Fockers). The idea of the film is actually an interesting look at what happens behind the scenes of an election campaign. I mean think about it, how much information that gets passed on to the media that you see is 100% true? Don’t you think something like that could be happening now with this election and we don’t even know about it? I think politics is a dirty game anyways and this film shows you just that. I just didn’t really like the ending because I loved Dustin Hoffman’s character, but I won’t give that away to you. The acting in the film is great and a lot of today’s stars are featured in this film and Woody Harrelson was perfect in the film as a crazed nut that they use to their advantage. The cinematography in the film was great, the editing was amazing as well. I wish I had seen this movie way back when I decided to watch Bulworth because this was a great film. I am going to give Wag The Dog an A for a final grade.

Day 268: The Boy Next Door (2015)

the-boy-next-doorFor today’s film, I had to choose something quick to watch due to time constraints and I have always admired the work of Jennifer Lopez (Selena). I never got the chance to see The Boy Next Door in theaters, but I am watching it for today’s film. Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a woman dealing with whether she should stay with her cheating husband or move on. One day her son Kevin (Ian Nelson) befriends the mysterious boy next door Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman). In one vulnerable moment one night, she sleeps with Noah and it turns out to be a very big mistake. Noah has a bit of an obsession problem and after Claire tries to tell him that it can never happen again, Noah goes nuts and the game begins. The film also stars John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Garrett Peterson, Kristin Chenoweth (The Pink Panther) as Vicky Lansing, Lexi Atkins (Zombeavers) as Alice Callahan, Hill Harper (He Got Game) as Principal Warren, Jack Wallace (Boogie Nights) as Bob Sandborn, Adam Hicks (How To Eat Fried Worms) as Jason Zimmer, François Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze) as Detective Chou, and the film was directed by Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story).

boy-next-5-800What can I truly say about the film other than that if you’ve seen one film about an obsessed individual than you kind of seen them all. The question in screenwriting is always what does your story bring to the table that is different than any other one. We’ve seen these types of films before like Fatal Attraction, Fear, The Gift, Devil In The Flesh, and even The Crush just to name a few. I think the thing about this film that is different than the others is that it explores that taboo teacher/student relationship because she is a teacher and he is technically a student at the school. Ryan Guzman does deserve some credit in this film because he does an amazing job playing the obsessed individual. He captures the essence of a kid who is strong and sexually desirable by women while also being vindictive and destructive when he doesn’t get what he wants. Jennifer Lopez well is Jennifer Lopez, she’s sexy as hell and why wouldn’t you be obsessed with that after you’ve had a taste. This film isn’t anything groundbreaking and it’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s worth a watch. The cinematography is actually pretty decent and is probably what is most attractive about the film. The film is available to watch on HBO and HBOGO as we speak so check it out if you dare. I am going to give the film an B- for a final grade.

Top 25 Of April

Top-25 copyIt is that time of the month again as we are well into May to give you what I believed to be the top 25 for the month of April. I want to start by saying that this was definitely one of the hardest months to choose a film only because we stepped the game up with the quality of films. We had a couple of stinkers of course, but we had way too many good and amazing ones that made it hard to choose. So, there may be some choices that I make that you may not agree with, but this list is about how I feel the films were. The five films (since there is only 30 days in April) that didn’t make the top 25 cut are: Volcano, Kull The Conqueror, Summer Job, Reefer Madness, and Fifty Shades Of Black. Those films simply did not make the cut because they were either not worthy or just didn’t top any of the 25 films chosen. Here is the Top 25 for the month of April:

25. Home Sweet Hell

24. Hardbodies

23. The Nut Job

22. Eye In The Sky

21. To Live And Die In LA

20. Hotel Transylvania 2

19. Jane Got A Gun

18. Victor Frankenstein

17. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

16. The Boss

15. The Flamingo Kid

14. She’s Having A Baby

13. Sisters

12. Brothers

11. Secret In Their Eyes

10. The Giver

9. Everybody Wants Some!!

8. Keanu

7. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl

6. Alice In Wonderland

5. The Hateful Eight

4. Kingsman: The Secret Service

3. Legend

2. Creed

1. The Jungle Book

 

Day 93: Volcano (1997)

volcano-main-poster1In the mid to late 1990’s, the thing to do in Hollywood was to bring back the lost art of Disaster Movies that people loved from the 70’s (Airport, The Towering Inferno, Poseidon Adventure, etc.). In 1997, 20TH Century Fox released the film Volcano which starred Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men) as Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (LAC OEM) boss Mike Roark. Everything seems normal in Los Angeles except for the fact that people are outraged at a new subway line going in. That is until a couple of workers end up dying from severe burns. While Mike starts to investigate what happened, a volcano begins to erupt underneath Los Angeles and now Mike has to figure out how to save the city before it’s too late. The film also stars Anne Heche (Donnie Brasco) as Dr. Amy Barnes, Gaby Hoffmann (Uncle Buck) as Kelly Roark, Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2) as Emmit Reese, Jacqueline Kim (Brokedown Palace) as Dr. Jaye Calder, Keith David (Men At Work) as Police LT. Ed Fox, John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Norman Calder, Michael Rispoli (Pain & Gain) as Gator Harris, John Carroll Lynch (Ted 2) as Stan Olber, and the film was directed by Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard).

VolcanoFirst of all, I want to start off by saying that Tommy Lee Jones is an amazing actor who commands the screen no matter what role he is playing. Second of all, this is a disaster film after all which means that the special effects are going to be off the chains for these kinds of films and it was. The explosions were cool and the lava running through the city was cool. How far fetched or possible is a volcano under Los Angeles, I am not 100% sure as to how accurate that would be. With the fault lines and all the subway systems they have, it would be a scary notion if it could happen. To spice things up for the film, they trow in some racial tension because we know that was running rampant in LA at the time. You have a guy looking out for his section of town, gets the handcuffs put on him until the cop decides not to be racist anymore. Then you have a little kid who is being carried by a black police officer who looks out and says, “look at their faces, they all look the same.” A nice gesture saying that we are all human and that we should all help each other, but a sentimental part I seriously could have done without. The movie is about Volcano’s, not Rodney King or Rampart. Nevertheless, you know exactly what you are getting with these films and it’s enjoyable enough to watch. That is why I am going to give the film an B for a final grade.

Day 92: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)

122215-big-fat-greek-wedding-2-poster.jpg.resize.400There are movies in the world that I always said that I would never bother checking out, but I have gone against my word a couple of times. One of those times was Magic Mike XXL and now My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the other film and that is also today’s film. The film fast forwards 17 years later as Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian’s (John Corbett) daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) is at that age when she wants to leave the house and city for college. Toula is having a hard time with this as she also has to balance a problem at her parents house. Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan) think they’ve been married, but it turns out the priest never signed their marriage certificate. So, Maria wants to have a real wedding and the family has to plan it. The film also stars Joey Fatone (Family Feud) as Angelo, Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog) as Aunt Voula, Gia Carides (Year One) as Nikki, Alex Wolff (The Sitter) as Bennett, Louis Mandylor (The Quest) as Nick, Bess Meisler (Daddy Day Care) as Mana Yiayia, John Stamos (Full House) as George, Mark Margolis (The Wrestler) as Panos, and the film was directed by Kirk Jones (Walking Ned Devine).

3c08f990f7258600cd7b4a0c5b692fdeAs far as the movie goes, I actually enjoyed watching this film for what it is. It follows that motto of no matter how dysfunctional or weird that your family might be, they are exactly what you call them which is family. The movie is fun to watch especially if you come from a European/Mediterranean family like I did which helps you connect with the family. When the family is whole and together on screen is where the real laughs happen in the film and there is plenty of it. Andrea Martin deserves a lot of credit for stealing some scenes in the film and being hilarious. The only thing that bugs me is that I never saw the first film so I have nothing to really base any judgement off of. I can’t tell you whether it’s better than the first which took the world by storm back in 2002. All I can really say is that the film was fun to watch and the acting is definitely where it’s at in this film. Kudos to the studio for getting all of the original cast members back for the film and even adding some cool cameos like Rob Riggle. One of the things I liked about the film was the soundtrack with a Greek cover of Billy Idol’s White Wedding (by George Kostoglou).  I thought it was cool.  The film isn’t the greatest film in the world, but it does it’s job which is to entertain you. I’ll have to check out the first film now that I have seen this one. I am going to give this one an B for a final grade.