Showing posts with label Tina Fey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tina Fey. Show all posts

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Magic Mike XXL" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Magic Mile XXL" and some DVDs worth seeking out: "The Calling" and "Eden (aka "The Abduction of Eden.") Two books this week: "Bossypants" by Tina Fey and "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler.   I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project:" with the wonderful film "Tsotsi."] 

It's been a good week!

Magic Mike XXL

It's been three years since Mike (Channing Tatum) has been a "male entertainer" and dropped out of the Tampa Kings, but now those who are left have come knocking and want Mike to do it one more time.
The plot is slight.  Mike is lured back into dancing after a three year hiatus trying to make it in the "straight" world.  But you don't go to movies like this for the plot.  You go for the beefcake.  And there is LOTS of it.  I could look at Channing Tatum's biceps all day long. 

Mike has left the Tampa Kings to start his own construction/design business, but when he gets a call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash), one of his ex-stripper pals, that Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) "is gone," he goes to meet the boys thinking he is attending a wake. Turns out, Dallas has indeed gone but overseas to start his own franchise.  Tarzan just implied Dallas' death to get Mike to meet him and the boys (In addition to Tarzan, Big Dick (Joe Mangianella), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), and Ken (Matt Bomer) are all back).

They are all on their way to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach in a froyo truck driven by Tobias, who is now going to be their M.C. since Dallas is no longer with them.  They want Mike to join them for one last hurrah.  Mike initially says no, but you know how these things are.  He can't resist that "one last time."

En route, a car accident derails Tobias so they visit Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), one of Mike's old flames, who is making a ton of money with a club for women where women can have their fill of "male entertainers."  Mike wants Rome to be their M.C. at the convention but she says no.  But you know how these things are.  She can't resist...

For an inexplicable reason they head to a friend's house, whose mother is Andie McDowell, who plays very much against type as a randy older woman.  There is a running joke about the size of Joe Mangianella's you-know-what and that he has a hard time finding a woman who can handle it (I guess that's why his stage name is Big Dick). They spend the night together and Dick seems pleased the next morning.  So let's hear it for the older women!

Amber Heard is almost unrecognizable (her hair is a mess) as a love interest for Mike and Elizabeth Banks, who seems to be everywhere these days, has a cameo as the woman running the stripper convention.

The dancing is fantastic.  Channing is amazing.  Twitch, from "So You Think You Can Dance," is a newcomer and Channing holds his own with him in a sort of duet during the finale.  But early in the film, Channing does a little dance in his tool shed and let's just say, he puts his tools to good use. Yikes.  Joe Manganiello is also a great dancer and does a fun seduction scene in a 7-11.

But this is also a Bromance movie.  These guys love each other and it is never more evident than when they are all in the froyo truck taking ecstasy and telling them how much they love each other.  I have never heard so many F-bombs, but I also felt like I was eavesdropping on some real male bonding.

Steven Soderbergh directed the first one. This one is directed by Gregory Jacobs, but though Soderbergh didn't direct, he is the Executive Producer and shot and edited this one. Tatum is also one of the producers.  Soderbergh's involvement could explain why Andie McDowell is in this one since he made his mark with the now classic "Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989)" with Andie starring.  Reid Carolin does the honors once again on the script.

You know how I feel about sequels.  I ranted about it in my review of "Hot Tub Time Machine 2."  This might not have the "first time" rush of the first "Magic Mike," and you might miss Mr. Alright, Alright, Alright McConaughey, but it's worth it to see Channing and Mangienello.  I'm still sweating.

And let me say this about Channing.  He is not only a lovely piece of beefcake, but he is a competent actor, and more importantly, he just exudes warmth and charisma.  I have seen him several times on talk shows and he seems like a really nice guy who doesn't have a problem making fun of himself and his "Magic Mike" persona.  That makes him an actor that both women and men enjoy.  As for Mangienello, I can appreciate him as well.  Is it getting hot in here?

This isn't "Citizen Kane" by any means. I didn't expect it to be.  It's not even "Citizen Ruth," but I don't care because it made me smile.  Even feminists like a little beefcake from time to time.
Rosy the Reviewer says...It's like being in the front row at a Chippendale's show.  A fun movie to see with the girls or the boys, depending on how you roll.


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

The Calling (2014)

Detective Micallef (Susan Sarandon) doesn't have much to do in her little town which probably accounts for her drinking, but she sobers up when she discovers there is a serial killer afoot.

Fort Dundas is a bleak Canadian town that would drive anyone to drink and Detective Hazel Micallef is no exception.  She is not averse to the occasional oxycotin either for her "back pain."  Plus she lives with her mother (Ellen Burstyn).  Not a whole lot going on for Hazel.

When Hazel is asked to check on the welfare of Delia, an old lady who lives alone, she finds her dead with a gruesome knife wound to the neck (but not before helping herself to some of Delia's pills) and her mouth manipulated into a scream.  OK, obviously a murder.  But then another murder occurs with a similar m.o. - the mouth contorted into a specific shape.  Now Hazel thinks, uh oh, looks like we might have a serial killer on our hands.  And as more and more bodies turn up with various mouth contortions it becomes clear that this serial killer has a "calling."  She calls on fellow detective Ray Green (Gil Bellows) to help her.  When they figure out there is some religious motives to these killings they consult a local priest (Donald Sutherland).

And let me say this about mysteries and crime dramas and this is only a teensy bit of a spoiler.  When a big name like Donald Sutherland appears in what seems to be only a very small part, you can pretty much count on the fact that he has something to do with the outcome. 

This film is all about the murders.  We know early on who the killer is (Simon played by Christopher Heyerdahl) but we don't know his motivation.  That is the mystery that keeps you watching. 

The screenplay by Scott Abramovitch (from the novel by Inger Ash Wolfe) has some original touches. It's a complicated plot that is not without its problems such as how Hazel actually puts all of the clues together to solve the riddle of the crimes, but if you can overlook that, this is not a bad addition to the serial killer genre. Think a little less gory version of "Se7en."  Director Jason Stone oversees some fine performances and creates a properly gloomy and creepy atmosphere for the actors to work in. And Sarandon is always good.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if the idea of a horror version of "Fargo" interests you and you liked "Seven" or "Silence of the Lambs," you might enjoy this one.


Eden aka "The Abduction of Eden" (2012)

A young Korean-American girl (Jamie Chung) is kidnapped by human traffickers and becomes a sex slave.

A usually good girl uses a fake ID to go to a bar where she meets a handsome seemingly nice guy.  Wrong.  He's really a handsome not so nice guy who kidnaps her, puts her in the trunk of his car and takes her to Las Vegas to be used as a sex slave.  Welcome to Vegas, baby!

Beau Bridges (where has he been?) plays Bob the cop and it soon becomes apparent he is a bad cop and heavily involved in sex trafficking.

It's a pretty grim story, based on a true one.  We see how it all works:  kidnap the girl, get her addicted to drugs, keep her tethered to a bed until needed, psychologically brainwash her by giving her a kitten and telling her if she messes up the kitten dies.  Throw in some threats to her family and you have a compliant slave who basically gives up on trying to escape.  Try to escape?  Expect to sit for hours in a bathtub filled with ice.

But not our Eden (her sex slave name) who is a plucky girl who realizes that if she befriends her captors and proves her usefulness, she just might have a chance to get out alive.  She worms her way into the graces of one of the "handlers," who is a crack addict.  She becomes his trusted helper and just waits for her chance to get away.

Jamie Chung is an appealing actress who makes this film work.  I had seen her name associated with guys like Bradley Cooper but didn't know who she was.  Now I know.  She has spent much of her career toiling on TV, but I think she has a bright future as a film actress.

There is an addictive documentary quality to this film directed by Megan Griffiths who is making a name for herself ("Lucky Them").  She also co-wrote the script with Richard B. Phillips and Chong Kim, whose story this is.

This film screams of "B Movie."  But hey, "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Fall of the House of Usher" and all of Roger Corman's films were "B's" and they have stood the test of time.

Watching a film like this, obviously a potboiler and which, if it weren't for the nudity and possibly the subject matter, would qualify for Lifetime Movie status, I realize I have a dark side.  I like movies about the dark side of life.  I find them fascinating and the fact that this is a true story, not only makes it fascinating, but makes me shudder to think that young women actually go through horrible things like this, possibly never to be heard from again.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a terrifying and intriguing look inside the sex trade.

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

256 to go! 

Tsotsi (2005)

Tsotsi is a gang leader in Johannesburg, South Africa, and he's not a very nice kid.  He has no trouble knifing a man on the subway or beating up one of his friends or shooting a woman while stealing her car, but when he discovers there is a baby in the backseat of that car, his life is changed forever. 
Tsotsi has the dead eyes of a person who life has left behind.  He leads a gang, lives in a shantytown and doesn't have much of a future. But when he finds the baby, he finds something inside himself that had been lost.  We slowly learn why Tsotsi has given up on the human race and is so filled with hate.  His mother was sick and he was left with his abusive father who crippled his dog in front of him. Tsotsi ran away and lived in a drain-pipe community with other lost children. He became hardened to life but when he found the baby, his humanity was sparked. 
Gavin Hood directed and adapted the film from the novel by Athol Fugard, this film won the Oscar in 2005 for Best Foreign Language Film and it is incredibly deserving.  The soundtrack of South African music creates a mesmerizing world and the cinematography is a work of art.
But  as Tsotsi is just remarkable as is Terry Pheto as Miriam, the local woman he takes the baby to for help.
Why it's a Must See: "...remarkable performances in a film that powerfully conveys the brutality and squalor of the urban slums of Johannesburg--while maintaining a strong belief in the human spirit, which resists being crushed under the heavy weight of poverty..."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Rosy the Reviewer says...a riveting and extraordinary film that needs to be seen.
(In Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa with English subtitles)

***Books of the Week***

Bossypants  by Tina Fey (2013)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)

Memoirs by two of Saturday Night Live's most famous and successful alums - and they are friends!

Because Tina and Amy are very good friends, I thought it would be fun to not only read these in tandem but to review them side-by-side and compare them.

Tina and Amy met before their stints on SNL.  They were both members of the Chicago improvisational groups Improv Olympic and Second City. They each speak fondly of finding each other.

First of all, both books are funny as one would expect from these two.   You get a sense of Tina's humor from the cover of her book.  When I first saw it, I thought, boy, her arms are hairy.

Both ladies are self-deprecating feminists and very funny.  And they are both tough cookies.  You would have to be to make it in the world of comedy, especially when there is that "thing" out there that women aren't funny.

Both do not want to talk about what you might want them to: Tina's scar (well, she talks a little about it) and Amy's divorce from Will Arnett.  Tina's book is a bit more enlightening about her personal life; Amy's book is more about the humor.

They both take you behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live and of their wildly popular sitcoms: Tina's "30 Rock" and Amy's "Parks and Recreation." They also share their joys and struggles with motherhood.

Both like lists:  Tina has a list of her mother's beauty secrets and what it was like being skinny and what it was like being fat, since she achieved both states.

Amy likes lists even more than Tina:  Six titles for books she thinks should be available on divorce, some sex advice, and why cell phones are evil.

But in the end, both come across as "just girls" you would like to know.  They still remember their hometown roots, their parents and those who helped them along the way.

Rosy the Reviewer says...both books appear on lists of books that every woman should read.  Justly deserved.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Bars I Have Known and Loved"


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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). 

 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. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."