Showing posts with label Candace Bergen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Candace Bergen. Show all posts

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Hot Pursuit" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Hot Pursuit" and DVDs "Knowing" and "The Last Five Years." The Book of the Week is Candace Bergen's "A Fine Romance."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project: "Come Drink With Me."]

A by-the-book cop tries to protect a drug lord's wife while running from bent cops and drug lords who want to kill them.

Reese Witherspoon plays Cooper, a serious (and clueless) cop who has been toiling in the evidence room ever since she accidentally tasered a kid and set him on fire. Doing something stupid has now gone down in police vernacular as "doing a Cooper."  However, she gets her chance to redeem herself when she is called upon to accompany a Detective Jackson (Richard T. Jones) to pick up a drug dealer and his wife in order to place them in a witness protection program until they can testify against a drug lord.  Sophia Vergara plays Daniella Riva, the drug dealer's wife.

However, things don't go as planned and Detective Jackson and Daniella's husband are killed by competing bad guys (a set of bad cops and a set of what appear to be the drug lord side) and Daniella and Cooper must go on the run.  All kinds of hijinks ensue.

Beware of films where the stars hit every single talk show from the "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" to "Watch What Happens Live" to "The Talk" before release of the film.  That is a sure sign it's a clunker and a ploy to get as many people into the theatre before the critics get wind of it.  That appears to be the case here.

Likewise, comedies with outtakes over the closing credits usually mean you have just watched a movie that is not funny and they are desperately trying to get some laughs.  However, for you and them, it's too late.  That also appears to be the case here.

The film starts out well showing the young Cooper going on rides with her Dad, who is a well-respected San Antonio cop. She looks up to him and wants to be like him.  Flash forward, and Cooper is now a cop chasing a guy down.  Turns out it was her date who got spooked when she pulled a gun on him.  She chased him to return his wallet.  Seems like that's the kind of love life she has because she is so focused on her job she can't see how boring she is. So that was kind of funny and Witherspoon is an engaging comedy talent as she proved in "Legally Blonde."  I can't say the same for Vergara whose main claim to fame seems to be her fantastic physique and her supposedly funny mangling of the English language which began in TV's "Modern Family," and which is now old and not funny.

I can see why someone would think pairing the short, girl-next-door Witherspoon with the tall and impressive Vergara would be funny, and many jokes are made out of that in this film.  However, Vergara isn't really a very good actress and the script (David Feeney and John Quaintance) lets both of them down.  There are few laughs here unless you like slapstick comedy like "The Three Stooges" and even those are funnier than this.

I wanted to like this film because it has a woman director (Anne Fletcher) and buddy films starring women are few and far between and can be funny and fun but it wasn't either of those things.

Rosy the Reviewer quest for a funny comedy continues.  This one wasn't.

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)

Knowing (2009)
M.I.T. Professor John Koestler (Nicholas Cage) discovers that a list of numbers found in a time capsule buried 50 years earlier are links to future disasters.

In 1959 a time capsule is buried to be opened in 50 years.  Little Lucinda Dawes (Lara Robinson) won the contest to decide what the children should put in the time capsule.  Her idea was that each child would draw a picture to put in it to be distributed to children 50 years later when the time capsule is opened.  However, Lucinda doesn't draw a picture.  She fills her paper with numbers.  You see, little Lucinda hears voices and knows some stuff that we don't.

Fast forward 50 years.

John Koestler is a cosmologist at M.I.T.  In class, he leads a discussion about determinism vs. the theory of randomness.  Koestler seems to believe that our existence is a series of chemical accidents and grand mutations with no real meaning or purpose.  He tells his students "Shit just happens."  This is not good news to Koestler's father who is a pastor.
John is also a widower raising his young son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury).  He's not a very happy widower.  After his son goes to bed, John slams down wine, listens to classical music and watches nature films on TV, brooding and that brooding way only Nicholas Cage can do. And wouldn't you know.  His son goes to that very same school that buried that time capsule and he is the one that ends up with Lucinda's list of mysterious numbers. 

One night while John is doing his thing - drinking wine and watching nature films on TV - he accidentally spills some liquor on that list of numbers Caleb brought home from the time capsule ceremony.  A little drunk but intrigued, John starts playing with the numbers and stumbles across 9 11 01.  All of a sudden we realize that little Lucinda knew all about 9/11. Oh, shit. Sometimes alcohol actually helps you make sense of things because then Koestler matches numbers on Lucinda's list with all of the major tragedies that happened in the last 50 years - date, time and location - except for three that haven't happened yet.  Oh, shit, again.

Now Koestler must figure out what is going to happen next and somehow stop it.

So now, so much for "shit just happens."  Looks like somebody now believes in determinism.  And that's when the film, directed by Alex Proyas ("Dark City" and "The Crow") falls apart a bit as it moves into a sort of religious "end of days" scenario.

Nicholas Cage is an acquired taste.  You either like his lazy drawling delivery of his lines or you don't. And sometimes he is just laughable when he doesn't mean to be.  There is one scene where a guy is running on fire from the wreckage of a plane.  Nick yells, "Hey!"  I'm not sure what he thought that guys was going to reply. Keanu Reeves also falls into the same category. How these two ever became action heroes is a mystery.  And I have to remind myself that Cage won an Oscar!
Rose Byrne, whose career has really taken off since this film, plays Diana, the love interest and Lara Robinson also plays her daughter.  So guess who Diana's mother was?

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite some reservations, this is actually a pretty good scifi thriller, with great special effects, the religious themes notwithstanding.

The Last Five Years (2014)

Jamie and Cathy retrace their romance and marriage in song.

Yep.  It's all singing.

Based on the musical of the same name by Jason Robert Brown (adapted and directed by Richard LaGravanese), Jamie (Jeremy Jordan who you might recognize from TV's "Smash") and Cathy (Anna Kendrick) sing about  their love and marriage, Cathy starting at the end, Jamie from the beginning.  He is a novelist and she is a struggling actress.  We follow them as their careers take off.  When Jamie makes it big first by writing a bestseller, Cathy finds it difficult to stand in his shadow.

The film starts with Cathy alone in her apartment lamenting the end of her marriage.  Next on tap we see Cathy and Jamie ripping each other's clothes off in the first throes of sexual desire and frenzy.  I couldn't help but think how hard it must be to sing while doing that.

We forget that most actors and actresses have to go the musical route in college or on Broadway before getting that big film contract so it's no surprise that Anna Kendrick can sing.  She is obviously a "Broadway baby" with a Broadway voice, as she first showed us in "Pitch Perfect," though here after 90 minutes of her voice I found it a bit annoying. Jordan, however, has a gorgeous voice.

Broadway musicals don't usually translate well to the screen and this one is no exception.  For one thing, these kinds of shows need to be performed in front of an audience.  Sitting in a darkened theatre watching live actors, it is easier to suspend disbelief because we know the limitations of the stage.  But seeing a stage musical on the screen staged like a play with just two characters singing about their relationship is just too static for filmgoers who are used to seeing CGI, car chases and blood.

And what's worse, there are no memorable songs except for one moment when Cathy is answering a "cattle call" and sings a song about all of the things running through her mind and what the auditioners might be thinking of her. That one is kind of fun.

The story is an interesting concept with Cathy telling her story from the end and Jamie telling his from the beginning and a classic theme - if only we could see into the future before we commit to a relationship.  But after awhile with all of the back and forth in time,  it is difficult to tell where we are in the story.  I love musicals but even I found myself fast-forwarding through some of it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...for fans of this show or hard-core musical fans only - and even then you might be disappointed.


***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

262 To Go!

Come Drink With Me (Da Zui Xia 1966)
Bandits, whose leader is in prison facing death, kidnap the Governor's son and want their leader in exchange for the son's safe return. The authorities send a mysterious swordswoman named Golden Swallow (Cheng Pei-pei) to rescue him.
Why it's a Must See: "Long before there was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) there was the great King Hu, a master director who, beginning with [this film], helped revolutionize the martial arts costume drama by introducing a female lead...The film is a visual tour de force, each sequence meticulously designed by King Hu into a feast of color, movement, and high-flying action...Young star Cheng Pei-pei, who wields a sword like nobody before or perhaps after her, perfectly combines steely determination with a kind of touching fragility...She would go on to a successful career in Hong Kong cinema and would win great acclaim for her return to the screen as the evil Nanny in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die 

Pei-pei is a lovely screen presence who can really kick butt. I love seeing a woman kicking butt.  She dispatches eight men at once as easily as if she were carving a turkey.  And no special effects enhanced flying through the air that have become a staple in martial arts films now.  This is old school.  She does it the hard way.

Great bloody fun, and I mean that literally.  Lots of blood, in a cartoon sort of way.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a fan of Chinese martial arts films, you should add this classic to your repertoire.
(In Chinese with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen (2015)
Candice Bergen's latest memoir brings us up to date since her first one "Knock Wood."

The "romance" here is not only her two marriages but her love for her only child, her daughter Chloe, who was born to her late in life.

Bergen didn't marry until she was 30 and when she did she married famed director Louis Malle.  At 39 she had her first and only child.

She shares memories of her marriage to Malle, who died at the age of 63 in 1995, her struggles as a mother balancing her absolute love for her daughter against the needs of her husband, while at the same time trying to maintain a career.  After Malle's death, Bergen found love again after she was tricked into a blind date.

Bergen gives us an inside look into her TV show "Murphy Brown" - can you imagine Heather Locklear was a lock until Bergen showed interest?  Hard to imagine anyone else other than Bergen as Murphy.  She shares the infamous Dan Quayle incident during the 1992 Presidential Campaign where he took exception to Murphy Brown being a single mother.

She is self-deprecating, making fun of her hair and her weight (she doesn't care that she has put on 30 pounds.  She likes to eat!), sharing regrets as a mother, daughter and wife and the sadness of the empty nest.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a satisfying, honest memoir that you Candice Bergen and "Murphy Brown" fans will particularly enjoy.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for
"Planning a Trip:  Baby Boomer Style!"


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