American Hustle

Director: David O. Russel

Lead Actors: Usual Suspects


Plot Synopsis: Fat, balding con man Irving Rosenfeld's greatest con possibly was convincing Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence's characters to fall in love with him and fight over him. We meet Rosenfeld, played by Christian Bale, as he is seducing Amy Adams' character Sydney Prosser.

Prosser, we find out, is as much or more of a capable con artist than Rosenfeld. As such, she uses her two most deadly tools - her cleavage. Every dress or outfit Adams wears throughout the entire movie seems to be split right down to the waste and does very little to hide Adams' braless chest. This is simply one aspect of late 1970s excess on display in David O. Russel's take on Abscam.

In reality though, Abscam plays second fiddle to strong character performances. In addition to Rosenfeld and Prosser, who form a formidable team, there is Rosalyn Rosenfeld - Rosenfeld's legitimate wife. She stays home all day with her son and burns things down on accident. She is beautiful and smarter and more capable than she gives herself credit for.

Then comes the Mayor of Camden New Jersey, played convincingly by Jeremy Renner who played Archer in the Avengers. Then last, and certainly not least, is Bradley Cooper, an FBI agent with a minor cocaine problem and a major self esteem problem. Add desperation to this recipe and mix, this gives you American Hustle.

Who Would Like it and Why
Fans of David O. Russel. This director is really coming into his own. Jennifer Lawrence is at her best. Amy Adams does well. Renner is surprisingly good.

Who Might not Like it and Why
I personally felt that Bale's Rosenfeld was too reflective and weighed by moral dilemma to be a good con man. He seemed to be watching things unravel rather than take action. Also, the plot moves fast so you have to pay attention.

Highlights/Top Scenes
Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams are both beautiful. Adams does a good job playing a conflicted con woman. Renner does a great job playing the mostly innocent mayor. His relationship with Rosenfeld is believable.

(Spoiler Alert)Deniro does a magnificent cameo.


Director: Stephen Frears

Lead Actors: Judi Dench, Stephen Coogan
Producer: Tracy Seaward
Plot Synopsis:
Philomena, a lovely, soulful elderly lady from working class Ireland mournfully commemorates her would-be son's 50th birthday. This is the son she had young, out of wedlock, and was forced to adopt out to Catholic nuns who sold the child to US parents.

Philomena is played at Oscar speed by Dame Judi Dench.
We also meet Martin Sixsmith when his career as a political journalist is in huge turmoil. The writers and director spare us the details of what Sixsmith did to fall out of grace from the elite, British, journalistic world. But, we are assured by several pundits that it is bad, as his face flashes across all major news networks.

One journalist describes the situation by stating that the organization Sixsmith worked for had to eat "humble pie with a side of grovel soup" because of his actions. 

In an early scene for Sixsmith, he is getting a checkup to see if he is depressed, because he feels aweful. He is still brooding later on at a party where his colleagues are teasing him about his career disaster. This is when Philomena's daughter, a caterer at the party, approaches him and asks him to investigate the whereabouts of Philomena's first son.

Sixsmith, who more than anything needs to get out of the house, agrees to look into it. Eventually,this leads to the pairing of Sixsmith and Philomena, who make the ultimate odd couple. Sixsmith is a disgruntled, angry, atheist journalist who had been living the high life in London and riding first class and renting luxury cars.

Philomena is charismatic and god-fearing, and charms every single person she meets. She is not used to first-class anything, and even hoards the croutons at an all-you-can eat salad bar during their first meeting.

Sixsmith pitches the story to a magazine, and the magazine pays for the two to journey to the United States to find out whatever happened to Philomena's first child. This moves things forward - but really the fate and whereabouts of Philomena's son takes backstage in this movie to the fascinating relationship that develops between these two.
Who Would Like it  and Why
Fans of good acting. Dench is at her best as the hardy Philomena with a heart of gold. She is flawless. Memorable. Also, fans of Cougan will be delighted to see him play a serious role in a serious movie. It is no small thing to act opposite Dame Dench, and he seems to hold his own.

Who Might not Like it and Why
I was hoping for a bloody buxomy holiday splash with underwear models and fight scenes. But went to Philomena because I was being treated to it, and I was thoroughly pleased. While this movie lacks physical sweat, Dench's sinking her teeth into a meaty, tricky role and nailing it dead on the nose will hook just about any movie-goer.  

Yes, Dench won me over with her graduate-level seminar on acting. I think few people would walk away with this movie displeased. She won an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love a few years back - that role lasted for only eight minutes. This is a much better exercise for one of the industry's finest to show us how it's done.

My Unfiltered Opinion
I think the directors of the Twilight series should be subjected to a triple showing of this movie so they can understand real acting.  

Highlights/Top Scenes
Coogan's face when he finds out what has happened to Philomena's son. Some of the scenes where Philomena is describing to Sixsimth, a writer by trade, the plot twists in her romance novels. These scenes were artfully extended as the director also recognized the good humor in them. There is another scene when Coogan attacks God and Philomena snaps and calls him a "feckin idiot", which  I can only take to mean "an f-ng idiot" in Galic.  

The Christmas Card- aired on the Hallmark Channel

Director: Stephen Bridgewater

Lead Actors:
, ,                          

Randy Pope

Plot Synopsis:
A sergeant in the army seems jaded and out of touch as he "celebrates" Christmas at his outpost in Afghanistan. We can tell that he is loved by his men but that something is missing. Just in time for Christmas, he gets a Christmas Card from a lovely, blonde, vivacious woman in Nevada City to wish him merry Christmas from her church. She sends a picture of the church but not of herself, yet the sergeant is smitten with her warm Christmas cheer.

After he is sent home on leave, he realizes he is rudderless, except for a few beacons in the fog - the card, Nevada City and the church. So he gets on his "Hollywood sexy soldier off duty" standard issue chopper, and alpha males his way into this small lumber town.

"Fate" brings him into contact with Faith, the only young, vivacious and basically single woman in a town of gray hair and false teeth. Her father, played by a charismatic Ed Asner, happens to be a war vet, who after one look at the young vet, decides to take him in as his own (never mind the risks of PTSD, or of a soldier going A-wall a la Sylvester Stallone in First Blood) this guy is family.

So now, the underwear model caliber soldier and the hottie are sharing bathrooms and the father would love for them to fall in love. The only thing standing in the way of this inevitable Hallmark romance is a wafish, insecure, 40-something, rich wine connoisseur and merchant, who is not a good kisser. He is the leading lady's fiancé, and the father doesn't like him. They have a wine tasting at the house and the father insists everything her daughter's fiancé pours is "fruity".

Who Would Like it and Why
All sarcasm aside, I thought Ed Asner was charismatic, fun and believable in this winter wonder land where he runs a timber mill and lives in a beautiful cabin. The sets were wonderful and made me yearn for a simpler time. There is even one scene where Ed Asner and his peacemaking wife Lois Nettleton are actually in a "one-horse open sleigh". It should be said that Alice Evans plays her part well as a great catch in nice sweaters that are still acceptable to wear in front of the family. Her smiles light up the screen.

Who Might not Like it and Why
John Newton plays Sgt. Cody Cullen. I thought he was OK as the ingénue, but lacked any sort of colorful acting skill to go beyond his pretty face. He is a good-looking guy and that went far with the plot.

But his nice appearance matched, up with the not-so-attractive current boyfriend, suggested that all those who fight in the military look like underwear models, and anyone who stays stateside is a thin whimp who stays on the cell phone while the real men are cutting things down and operating power tools. I don't think that is true.

Indeed, I thought the family bias against Paul, played well by Ben Weber, was alarming. The Mom was somewhat innocent in this, as she insisted she was for what her daughter wanted. But Asner's character, as well as an uncle, actively conspired against Paul in favor of Sgt. Cody Cullen. They wanted Cullen to take the hand of the beautiful girl, played by Alice Evans.

I also was uncomfortable with the fact that Faith mentioned in voiceover that she had been given the chance to move to the "big city", but had never journeyed outside of her small hometown. Her mannerisms also brought me back to older movies in the way that she seemed flimsy and fickle and unsure of what she wanted as the two young men sparred and parried for her love.

Highlights/Top Scenes
Listen, all sarcasm put aside, this is a nice, warm Christmas tale. I could only wish that all veterans had so many wonderful things waiting for them when they came home.

I think that Nevada City, or wherever they filmed this movie to make it look like Nevada City, played its part as a desirable wintry wonderland.

Also, there is a scene in the beginning where our two lovers unknowingly order the same exact food from a diner-good foreshadowing to their chemistry. Ed Asner glues everything together as the lead. Lois Nettleton does a good job ignoring interpersonal tension and making everyone feel welcome and at home.

Peter Jason plays Richard, the jovial Uncle who helps Asner in guiding his daughter to the right man. He delivers some nice comedic relief in the movie.

Worthy of mention as well is the cabin which the Spellman family lives in, which anyone would love to nestle in, sip some egg nog and watch the snow fall. Also, there is a "special spot" along the river in the trees that plays a key point in the plot, well I'll just give it away - it hosts the first kiss. But it is beautiful. Not sure which river it overlooks, but it is majestic.

My Unfiltered Opinion
Like everyone else in the world, I love our troops. But I also have an open mind and believe that in some cases that the educated, world-class wine connoisseur/merchant might be a better partner for someone than the rudderless vet in a chopper.

Paul, if you're out there, don't despair, you'll find someone. My advice, try a big city where the women are well-educated, aren't as codependent to Daddy, and have an appetite for world-wide travel. You might do well in a place like this.

And, as for the Spellman family, into which Sgt. Cullen fell into like a glove, I wish you much happiness in your cozy Hallmark story.

Yes, Hallmark family values and patriotism took center stage in "The Christmas Card". The family was solid and did its best to weed out any weak links before they got too far. Also, the soldier was a hero, we could tell by his square jaw, even before he did anything heroic.

Paul's warning to Faith that people from the army can be just as dangerous and psychotic as anyone else was brushed aside early in the movie. And why shouldn't it be? This is Christmas, and lets face it, Sgt. Cody Cullen looks great in a Santa hat. The Spellmans will sort everything else out in the New Year...


Producer: Priyath Costa

Actors: David Goodsell, Rachel Lynn David

Synopsis:Society seems to punish unfaithful men with a light slap on the wrist, which might as well be a high five as they jump back into the ring for another foray, leaving emotional destruction in their path. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Usher, Kobe Bryant, David Letterman - they are all major offenders in this category. After they humiliate their wives publicly, they move on with their careers and simply get new girlfriends – all the while donning the same impish grin. . .  

Enter Locked – a production by Priyath Costa - wherein the cheating man gets his just deserts! John, a successful business man has yet again cheated on his loving wife who is away on business. As he wakes up from a night of extra –marital fun, it looked again like he will get away with it – until he looks down and realizes his mistress has left him with a very unusual . . . present.
Pressed for time, John, played by a believable Devin Goodsell, realizes he must undo this sophisticated, complex trap - his latest conquest has set for him. He employs the help of a female locksmith, Hannah, played by the perky and exuberant Rachel Lynn David, to undo this cumbersome gift . Equipped with all her tools, even the master locksmith realizes she is in for more than she bargained for.
As the clock clicks down and Hannah uses all of her tools available to her – the two become unlikely partners in a meditation on adultery, its addictive nature, and its long lasting wide - ranging effect it has on all those involved.
Locked, which was directed and written by Lakpathy Wijesekara, has unintentional undertones of James Wan’s horror series Saw, as man-made contraptions trap people in a way that forces them to change their bad habits.
At the same time, the movie manages to be very, very funny. Hannah’s incredulity and then eventual astonishment as she realizes that John isn’t just hitting on her but that he has a real problem - is a prime example of the humor that keeps this from being a drab morality play.  
Both under pressure and under the gun for slightly different reasons – Goodell and David’s John and Hannah work off each other well. And, although their relationship never becomes conjugal, they are able to maintain a subtle sexual tension during the entire encounter which helps keep the viewer’s eyes locked.
Wijesekara does a skillful job of poking fun at a heavy subject matter and also keeping the movie light, but we’re still subjected to the pain on John’s face caused by remorse and well. .. his predicament.
Shot in a deluxe apartment in Beverly Hills, the set is delightful and it embodies John’s success in life, his power and his capacity for manipulation. It’s easy to believe how this sleek apartment might turn into a convenient love shack once John’s long-suffering wife has left the premises.
Wijesekara and Director of Photography Brandon James exhibit well thought-out blocking and they manage to keep a potentially r-rated script comfortably PG-13.
In the end, Locked functions as a sort of parable for young couples. It is a breath of fresh air, and would function well as the beginning of a series of like parables to pitch to a network like Lifetime that has a reputation for punishing bad men– just a thought!
Locked is a treat. It is reflective, funny, and informative and showcases the talents of two new- comers. Come see this gem you won’t be able unlock your gaze until the credits roll!
Who Might Like It
People who are fan of light love movies, and sexy comedies.

Who Might Not Like It
MEN WHO ARE UNFAITHFUL TO THEIR WIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rating: Three Mike and Ikes



The World's End

Director: Edgar Wright

Lead Actors: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg


Plot Synopsis:

One ner-do-well forty something, Gary King, is at the end of his rope in life and in a stint of rehab when he recounts the best night of his life - the night he and his four mates attempted a 12 bar pub crawl and managed to reach nine of them before having to abandon their mission.

On that night, he scored with a girl in the disabled bathroom, got in a fight, and celebrated the last day of school with his mates. The problem with that night is that Gary King the adult never grew past that night, while his friends have all moved on . . .or have they?

Channelling his high school charisma despite a serious lack of funds, King decides to unite his old crew, in hopes of finally finishing the pub crawl they set out to do so many years ago. This reuniting is also a way for him to finally make amends with his BEST friend, Andy Knightley, who for reasons that aren't fully explained (at first) has never forgiven Simon.

With the magical powers that most slackers seem to have when they decide to put their mind towards something, King pulls off the impossible and gets three grown men to ditch all adult responsibilities for an entire weekend to revisit their home town and finish unsettled business with the town's 12 main central pubs.

All the pubs have classic names which will make you want to visit England right away, but the final one is called "The World's End".

Who Would Like it and Why
 Fans of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, or even Scott Pilgrim for that matter. This is a crowning in a trilogy of Americanized Britsh movies directed by Edgar Wright and starring Pegg and Frost  in some capacity. There are also some exciting cameos including Pierce Brosnan and everyone's favorite squid captain Bill Nighy.

Who Might not Like it and Why
I found myself feeling very sad and depressed for Pegg's character King. Even as the stakes change in this movie and his past transgressions seem less of a big deal given (Spoiler Alert)the current end of world circumstances for the characters, I supposed King's nostalgia for his glory days strikes a chord in all of us. He even keeps his best trench coat and even makes a pass at the same girl he scored with in the disabled bathrooms so many years ago.

Anyone who has experienced a certain amount of charisma when they didn't have house payments, car payments and kids to worry about and then went on to becoming an adult knows the transition isn't easy. But, one look at Gary King tells us that growth is essential to survive as a human being. 

Highlights/Top Scenes
Some fight scenes against some of the towns locals are good but the real gem here is the give and take of British humor with the four high school buddies. The camera captures their quips and comebacks and crowning on top of each other's lingo and informs the viewer of how autobiographical this picture really is not only for Wright but for Pegg and Frost who were college roommates.
 Pegg, Wright and Frost first scored big with another sort of apoccalyptic fare-Shaun of The Dead!

Good British faces

Simon Pegg doing a great turn of acting

Delightful ensemble including Nick Frost and the guy who played The Guy Who Played The Hobbit, otherwise known as Martin Freeman who was also in the British Office.

This is sort of a 12-step movie that includes a lot of drinking

State of The Cine Union with Pinterest Roundup

By Geoffrey  Altrocchi
Well, this summer has seen a whole lot of nothing from the Silver Screen, if we don’t say so our Cine selves . . .
As Spring came to an end, we saw full-time Scientologist and part-time actor Tom Cruise's career careen into Oblivion as Morgan Freeman camped up the second half of what started out as a decent movie.
Then, we saw a hungover ensemble be a distant memory of them old selves in Hangover 3. While Fast and Furious 6 did actually manage to impress (with Paul Walker doing some more walking) and got a "Drag Up" rating from Cinegeoff regular Shelbe Chang, much of the rest of the summer has been a rambling mess of shambles . . .
The summer’s most redeeming movie so far, Pacific Rim, by Mexican ultra geek boy Guillermo Del Toro impressed a lot of people but got smashed in just its second week financially by Grown Ups 2 – starring comic actors David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock and Hollywood comedy powerhouse Adam Sandler.
Worth noting that Sandler was fresh off winning a 2013 Raspberry Award for worst acting of the year for his portrayal of a dead- beat dad in “That’s My Boy”. But, for all intensive purposes, Grown Ups 2 was fairly well received, which means that, well, maybe Americans just simply love to laugh. . .  
Hugh Jackman just starred in his fifth movie as Wolverine. This was the second movie where Wolverine was the title character. And for all intensive purposes, the 44-year-old Jackman looked just as muscle-bound and pissed off as he did in the very first X-Men filmed years ago. A lesser actor would have been replaced by Channing Tatum by now, but Jackman has held a firm hold on this role.
Speaking of firm holds, this Aussie heart throb was warding off rumors that he was gay during the Oscar race after turning in a great performance in the musical “Les Miserables”. Alert readers will note that Jackman spends about as much time on Broadway as he does Hollywood and that he does as many meat-head roles as he does sophisticated ones.
Does this make Wolverine gay? Who knows, but Wolverine could be used as a kinky nickname on either side of the fence. . .
Speaking of kinky, Ultimate Hollywood Player Jennifer Anniston will star as a stripper in the upcoming “The Millers” - excuse me as I and millions of other guys my age check that off my fantasy list from Friends days. . . .
Speaking of people who can't control their fantasies - Channing Tatum is in every single movie. This is a strong argument that maybe Gay men still control Hollywood.
While Channing Tatum is seemingly an OK guy. . . this is getting obnoxious. In the last five cine months, Channing Tatum has saved the world(White House Down), stripped down to bikini briefs (Magic Mike) and played a prison bird(Side Effects). I know there is some director out there who would love to have Channing Tatum do all those things in the same movie – maybe in another Hollywood remake like Cabarat. Tatum could play the emcee and Lindsay Lohan could be Sally . . .
Speaking of Lohan . . . The Canyons has had divisive receptions. . . . some hate the Paul Schrader-directed movie that also stars porn star James Deen. . . and others think it’s perfect for the time and Lohan’s image. Will it kickstart a second career for this damaged once Disney sweetheart? Cinegeoff’s official opinion is that Hollywood is a family and families never stop loving their kids and there will always be room here for Lindsay Lohan, no matter how badly she’s messed up.
Indeed, the summer has been a little strange but the fall promises some interesting things such as Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in hideous late 70s garb in American Hustle. Oh yeah, Jeremy Renner gets to play the mayor of Newark in this movie directed by Silver Linings Playbook director David O Russel.
Also, Meryl Streep setting herself up for another Oscar as an alcoholic, drug addicted mother who ruins the lives of many. Street is a brunette in this movie, and at some point in the Julia Roberts tackles her as Ewen Mcgregor watches on . . .
And of course there is another installment of the Hobbit in the oven with Evangeline Lily not looking Lost at all with her pointy ears and bow and arrow . ..  .
Ron Howard directed a movie about a Formula One race car driver and industry insiders say that there is a very expressive and tawdry sex scene in this movie with Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and a beautiful female co-star.
Dear Ron Howard,
     Looks like you're finally turning into a dirty old man, what took so long?
Woody Allen.
Speaking of Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine also does seem to be a winning movie from Woody Allen who seems to be peaking in his seventies. Also, The Way Way Back . . . alert members of social media are already privy to the twitter campaign that has  started to nominate Sam Rockwell for an Oscar nod as a slacker Water park owner in this movie. Cinegeoff’s opinion is any time you outshine Toni Colette in a movie – don’t look back.  
There is also a teen romance out that should be interesting, and as we experience the last days of Nelson Mandela in real life, a fiery political movie with Idris Elba as Mandela is set to come out some time in the fall. Speaking of African Americans in cinema, Ohpra and Tyler Perry have teamed up once again with "The Butler" - apparently a true story about a butler who saw history develop from within the walls of the White House.
In other news, resident Cinegeoff contributor Ty Mclemore is on special assignment in San Bernadino where he is working on the real dish, inside story about the beginnings of McDonalds. Jealousy, intrigue, deception and probably sex and lies at some point, you guessed it- the beginnings of the Mcdonalds has many of the same underpinnings and beginnings as other famous American franchises, including Cinegeoff.
In other Cine Geoff news Shelbe Chang showed producer skills with her first ever episode of Transflix, which focused on Wolverine. Next up- Jobs -the most intellectual Ashton Kutcher has seemed since . .  .um . . .
Other than that, catch up with Cinegeoff podcasts on Soundcloud, which focus on the real, the surreal and the unbelievable and thank you for watching, reading and clicking.
Geoffrey Altrocchi


The Imitation Of Life ( 1959 Classic Movie )

Review by Ty McLemore


Douglas Sirk

Lead Actors:

Lana Turner, John Gavin, Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner


Ross Hunter

Plot Synopsis

Two single mothers randomly meet on a Coney Island boardwalk as their respective, pre-pubescent daughters play together in the sand. One woman is white and an aspiring, yet struggling actress. The other is black, homeless and desperately seeking employment as a maid.

The women pair off as employer and housekeeper and the foursome attempt to survive financially in 1947-era New York City. Beneath the surface, however, trouble brews for the two girls.  One craves attention from her clueless, stardom-obsessed mother while the other, who is fair skinned and fatalistic about her circumstances, tries to pass as white – a consequence of believing that in 20th Century America being another color regulates one to the bottom rungs of society and opportunity.

Oscar-nominated actress Lana Turner plays Lora Meredith while Juanita Moore plays her faithful and sensible housekeeper Annie Johnson.

The story forwards ahead 10 years where they now reside in a plush Manhattan-area mansion with all of the amenities and trappings that Lora’s fame and wealth have bought. The girls are now teenagers  with Turner’s daughter played by Sandra Dee and Johnson’s daughter Sarah Jane played by the alluring and sexy-voiced Susan Kohner.

Sarah Jane’s constant embarrassment of having a black mother causes her to repeatedly run away. The final time comes when a prospective boyfriend learns of her ethnicity and renders a savage beating to her.

Annie, now terminally ill, enlists the help of Lora’s fiancé Steve ( John Gavin ) to find her.  Once found, Annie makes a final visit to say her goodbyes. She dies a few weeks later and as promised by Lora, is given an elaborate funeral complete with a horse-drawn hearse and renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

The movie ends with a sobbing, hysterical Sarah Jane rushing through the crowd, throwing herself on the casket and begging for her mother’s forgiveness – much to the astonishment of the funeral patrons.

Who Would Like it and Why

Anyone able to identify with sympathetic, yet flawed characters.

Who Might not Like it and Why

Anyone sensitive to the mistreatment or marginalization of women.

Highlights/Top Scenes

Annie pays a surprise visit to Sarah Jane’s dressing room while she prepares for a cabaret show. She assures her daughter that she will no longer meddle in her affairs and asks for a final hug goodbye.

As the two embrace, Sarah Jane cries. Her increasing guilt over the mistreatment of her mother has become apparent.

It is the RARE viewer who will have survived thus far without shedding a tear. The closing scenes will leave even  the most hardened and detached individual misty eyed and shaken. A testament to Sirk in creating a sophisticated, thought-provoking potboiler that ratchets up the emotions to a gut-wrenching climax.