Showing posts with label Going Clear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Going Clear. Show all posts

Friday, April 3, 2015

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and DVDs  "Song One" and "Horrible Bosses 2."  I also alert you to a noteworthy bit of television:  "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief." The Book of the Week is  "How To Cook Everything Fast" by Mark Bittman.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project:" "Three Kings"]

Kingsman: The Secret Service

A secret gentleman spy organization recruits a young street kid as they wage war against a diabolical villain who has a misguided solution to global warming.
The film begins with a botched raid in the Middle East in 1997 where a rookie ("Lancelot") within The Kingsman organization, a private spy group based on The Knights of the Round Table and noted for their bespoke suits (they operate out of a tailor's shop on Savile Row) and ingenious weaponry, sacrifices himself to save his colleagues.  Colin Firth is Harry Hart AKA Galahad who must tell "Lancelot's" wife, Michelle (Samantha Womack) and her young son Gary AKA as "Eggsy" (Taron Egerton) that her husband is dead.  He feels guilty about losing "Lancelot" and gives her a bravery medal telling her if she ever needs anything to call the number on the back of the medal. 
Fast forward 17 years. 

"Eggsy" is now unemployed, a delinquent, and living with his mother and her abusive boyfriend.  He is arrested for stealing a car and decides to take Harry up on his offer, hoping he will get him out of jail.  However, it just so happens that The Kingsman need a new "Lancelot ("Lancelot's" don't do too well.  Yet another one bit the dust) and Harry takes "Eggsy" under his wing, where he joins some other young recruits to try to snag the position.  Harry introduces "Eggsy" to the leader of the group, Arthur (Michael Caine) and Harry's trusted side-kick Merlin (Mark Strong).
Meanwhile, billionaire philanthropist Richmond Valentine (a lisping Samuel L. Jackson) is meeting with the world's heads of states, some of whom mysteriously go missing.  He also announces that he plans to give a free SIM card and free Internet and cellular service to everyone in the world.  Mmmm, what is it they say about "too good to be true?"  Also "you get what you pay for" might also apply here.
Colin Firth is always wonderful.  I don't think I can ever give him a bad review, not since his Mr. Darcy, anyway, and I don't need to, because he is perfect for the role of Harry Hart, a gentleman spy.  And young Taron, in his first big role, is likable and believable. But Samuel L. Jackson is a stand-out. He's not your usual villain.  He has a hilarious lisp and an aversion to blood so his side-kick, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), with her razor-sharp bionic legs does his dirty work.  Mark Hamill plays a kidnapped professor and is almost unrecognizable.  I think it's an inside joke.
Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn and directed by Vaughn, "Kingsman" is a comedy-thriller based on the Mark Millar comic book series "Secret Service."  They poke fun at past James Bond films and throw in all kinds of literary and pop culture references from "My Fair Lady"  to McDonald's  It's witty, exciting, original, full of surprises and just plain fun.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Highly recommended, especially if you loved the original James Bond films.  You will love this R-rated version.

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
Song One (2014)
A young woman whose brother is in a coma seeks out his favorite musician in hopes his music will awaken him.
Anne Hathaway stars as Franny.  She is working on her anthropology Ph.d in Morrocco studying nomadic tribes when she receives a call from her mother (Mary Steenburgen).  Franny's busker brother (Ben Rosenfield) has been hit by a car and lies in a coma.  She rushes home to his bedside, feeling guilty because they had not spoken since he had left school to pursue music and she had not approved.  But hoping that sounds and music will bring him out of his coma, Franny wanders around New York City recording buskers in action and the sounds of New York, much as an anthropologist would, to play for him.  
In going through her brother's things, Franny discovers that he had been sending his songs to James Forrester (Johnny Flynn, who in real life really is a musician), a well-known singer/songwriter.  Unbelievably, she also finds a ticket to one of Forrester's concerts and while there, gets up the courage to go to the merch table and introduce herself to him.  Again, after that encounter, unbelievably, Forrester shows up at her brother's hospital room. 
Franny and James meet again in a club where he shares with her that he has been having trouble writing and tells her he must leave soon to do some recording.
You can see where this is going from a mile away, but there is a sweetness about this film and lots of indie music, though none of it particularly memorable.
Flynn's acting is a bit wooden, but he displays a vulnerability and sensitivity and there is chemistry between Hathaway and him.  Steenbergen is particularly good as Franny's flibbertijibbet mother, but I was distracted by the fact that it appears she has succumbed to that face lift frenzy actresses of a certain age fall victim to - those lines, almost like a clown smile, that form at the corners of the mouth are tell-tale signs.  She would have looked better if she had just let age happen.
Written and directed by Kate Barker-Froyland, this film is a poetic little love song to people who yearn to be musicians and who will sing in subways to do it if they have to.  But this is Anne's movie and she even gets to sing a bit, though you would think with her Oscar from "Les Miserables," there would be more of that here.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet story that will remind you of "Once."
Now from the sweet to the ridiculous...
Dale (Charlie Day), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Nick (Jason Bateman) return, this time to start their own business.  But a series of events leads them to a hair-brained kidnapping scheme.

Our hapless trio have invented "The Shower Buddy," a shower head that also delivers shampoo and conditioner.  Along comes rich investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son, Rex (Chris Pine) who cheat our moronic heroes out of their invention.  So what does one do when one is cheated?  One, or should I say three, plot revenge. 

If you remember the first film (and it would help if you did), our guys planned to kill their mean bosses.  So they can't do that again here.  So they decide to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom.

Jennifer Anniston is back as the dentist, Dr. Julia Harris, an insatiable sex addict, who still wants to seduce Dale. This time around she is running a sex addict support group which works well for her to find fresh blood. Some of the raunchiest stuff in this movie comes out of her mouth, none of which can be repeated here.  Kevin Spacey returns for a cameo and manages to chew the scenery and Jamie Foxx is also back as "Motherfucker" Jones, an ex-con they consulted in the first film.

If there are any redeeming features of this film (and there really aren't), Chris Pine, despite his unbelievable handsomeness, is quite funny as the jerk Rex who also has it out for his Dad and does some double-crossing.  And Jennifer Anniston is funny, too, except there is just not enough of her.
Speaking of the first film, except for possibly Dale, these buddies don't really resemble the characters they played before.  Kurt is a hopeless womanizer and Nick seems to have lost any sense he displayed the first time around. And also remembering the first film, I think it was kind of funny. 

Unfortunately, this one is not funny at all.  Just gross bathroom humor and humor that is in really, really bad taste. None of it funny. When the outtakes at the end while the credits are rolling are the funniest things about a movie, you have a problem. 

Oh, there was actually one funny bit that made me laugh.  When asked "What do you know about executing a kidnapping? the reply was "Zip ties."  It was funny at the time.  Maybe you had to be there.  But don't.
How can a film with Jason Bateman, Christoph Waltz, Kevin Spacy, Jennifer Anniston, Jamie Foxx and Chris Pine suck so badly?  I don't know, but it does.

After suffering through another really unfunny sequel, "Dumb and Dumber To," I am starting to fear for the state of comedies these days.  As for sequels, I am always wary of those.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Forget the "Bosses" part.  This was just plain horrible.


***Noteworthy Television***

Going Clear (2015)

Alex Gibney's HBO documentary based on Lawrence Wright's book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief (2013)."

The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and received praise for its brief history of Scientology and founder L. Ron Hubbard combined with interviews by ex-members (as notable as director Paul Haggis, who won an Oscar for "Crash") who shed light upon abuse and exploitation within the church.  How the church woos and keeps Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta is also explored.  Needless to say, the Church of Scientology was not happy about this documentary. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a riveting and eye-opening look at the Church of Scientology.  Church or cult?  You decide.
(Playing on HBO through April 14)


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

269 To Go!
Have YOU seen this one?

Three Kings (1999)

This film tells the tale of the first Gulf War (1991) through the eyes of three American soldiers who begin the war as naïve yahoos and come out exposed to the cruelty, the innocent lives lost and the corruption that is war.

Why it's a Must See:  [This] is a millennium-capping antiwar film that employed what was then state-of-the-art tools (fast edits, dizzying camera work, color schemes that pop off the screen) and combined them with a helping of old-fashioned M*A*S*H-style politics...It's heady, even dense, stuff made accessible and urgent through a snappy script, relentlessly energetic pacing, dassling visuals, and taut's part war story, part heist thriller, and wholly an antiwar creed..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

David O. Russell ("American Hustle") wrote the script and it is original and fast-paced. I found it frenetic and chaotic.  And with that, since I am not a huge George Clooney fan nor do I like war films, it was bound to fail for me.   Hubby liked it.  Maybe it's a guy thing.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite the message, I didn't need to see this one before I died.  Didn't like it.

***Book of the Week***

How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman (2014)

Prolific columnist and write Bittman has produced a compendium of 2000 main dish recipes that you can prepare in a hurry.

What makes this cookbook stand out from others are the time management tips Bittman offers.  For example, instead of having to refer back to the list of ingredients all of the time, he includes the measurements again in the instructions.  Likewise, he lists in blue text prep you can do while other things are cooking.

Bittman takes classic recipes such as Spaghetti and Meatballs and shows you how to speed up the process by "dropping" the meatballs rather than rolling and shaping and also includes many ethnic treats such as "Caramel Stir-fried Beef with Green Beans" and "Warm Tabbouleh with Mussels."

Rosy the Reviewer says...sure to be a kitchen classic.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"The Good and Bad News About Aging:

How To Advocate

For a Happy Old Age"


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Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Here is a quick link to get to many of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."
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Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list.