Saturday, April 4, 2015


An Indian cop drama where the protagonist is a female detective pursuing a human trafficking ring. To start, we have to stipulate that she is a rock star detective, highly decorated and highly motivated... and can kick ass in a fight (both literally and metaphorically by out-smarting everyone). I love that his is not just action, but we see the angst and effort put into the chase. We see the doubt, the family life, and the determination. And we see beautiful storyline that never leaps too far and never leaves us bored. Excellent.
4 stars (out of 5)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sleepless in Seattle

Not much I can say about this that hasn't already been said. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are introduced by circumstance and fall in love. Sappy romance that is now almost a caricature of early 90's sappy, romance films. It is interesting how different a RomCom of this era is so identifiable and different than anything produced 10 or 20 years later. In fact, watch Pillow Talk (1959), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and Admission (2013), all films with this same plot (characters introduced by circumstance and fall in love) and see if you would classify them as films in the same genre.

3 stars (out of 5)

Furious Seven

This is a franchise, and I am a franchisee (see four, five, and six). I have liked them all (even Tokyo Drift which no one else seems to enjoy). Of course this film has additional sentimental issues because of the death of Paul Walker mid-filming, and the writers/directors did an excellent job of finishing this film without making it feel pieced together, including the final scene which was a fabulous tribute. Otherwise, you get what you expect here. Car chase, car crash, car hide-and-seek, car chicken, car v. helicopter, car flying between adjacent high rises, etc. The entire cast has signed on to the absurdity of this scenario and plays it completely straight, allowing us to enjoy that absurdity to its fullest. The plot, if you care, is the brother of the bad guy from the the last film is seeking revenge on the team. The team circles the wagons to protect themselves. You can tell that this is a mature franchise because there doesn't need to be any storyline other than the team itself. And you get flat out, summer action.
4 stars (out of 5)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mr and Mrs Smith

The first pairing of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie shows off the chemistry between these two mega-stars. At the time of filming, they were both playing the beautiful people roles and this script allowed them to be beautiful, and action star bad-asses. As a married couple, they both pretend that life is normal and boring. But unbeknownst to each other, they are each top contract assassins on the side. Some how they are each contracted to kill each other and most of the film is them trying to figure out who paid the contract while trying to fulfill it. Of course, in the end there is a riding off into the sunset, but the body count is high on the way. These two are so matter of fact about their jobs throughout that the normalization of violence is extreme. It is video game like and slightly disturbing. So while I would rate it high for chemistry and comedy and action, I have to recognize the reality of trivializing killing in a way that doesn't often strike me as so brazen.
3 stars (out of 5)


A fine cinematic interpretation of the 2nd book in the Divergent series. Visually dramatic, but the plot felt to me like it dragged. The story follows the political machinations of trying to run a city after a coup, while there is still a quite powerful rebellion. In addition, we as viewers are trying to understand the truth of what this city is and why it came about in the first place. But the pacing/story telling made me feel like it was the middle story where the good stuff is in the first and third installments. This is unfortunate because I did not feel this way with the book. What fascinates me is the dream serum (not used effectively here) and the social construct of factions, and what happens when one particular character trait faction is allowed to set the societal rules. Explore and push this issue to dramatic effect and see if the viewer can then draw connections to Republicans or Democrats in this country, or to any single ideological political party in any country. This is what is fascinating. Use science fiction to pull the masses into intelligent discourse.
3 stars (out of 5)