Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Weiner, the documentary on disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg is profoundly interesting and successful on many levels.

The fact Weiner allowed the filmmakers access to him, his family and his staff during his bid for the New York mayoralty in 2013 is a testament to both his nerve and his desperation. 

No doubt all politicians have some degree of narcissism, but Weiner’s had blossomed into exhibitionism and the mayoralty race was his chance to redeem himself.   

Unfortunately, the pundits and so-called Christians like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews would not forgive and never asked the only question that really mattered…”Did you stop your exhibitionism before you started running for mayor?”

If so, and the filmmakers, much more his wife, would have known if he hadn’t stopped by then, in a more forgiving atmosphere New York might have ended up with a better mayor than it has.  (New York has had more than its share of tarnished politicians, so the past should have blown over.)

Kudos go to Writer/Editor Eli B. Despres for moving this story along in an extremely compelling manner.

Of course, the even more tragic figure in this story is not Weiner or the citizens of New York, but his wife Huma Abedin.   Kriegman’s camera captures her frustrations and confliction over being caught up in the unfortunate mayhem her family had to suffer. Her stoicism bespeaks her personal power and integrity.

I have to, also, give a nod to Barbara Morgan, second in command of Weiner’s staff, who comes across as the kind of solid and cool support any candidate would want on his team.

I give Weiner a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Director James Bobin’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is a joyous fantasy full of action and magic.  It, also, had Mia Wasikowska, who has never turned in less than an excellent performance. 

Writer Linda Woolverton’s story takes us on a fast-paced romp wherein Alice had to rescue Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) from terminal depression over his belief his family may still be alive.  To find out, Alice must steal a device from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) that will allow her to go back into the past to discover what may have happened to them.

Production Designer Dan Hennah’s fabulous sets allow us to thoroughly enjoy her pursuit and Helena Bonham Carter’s Iracebeth adds to the laughs, as always.

 Alice Through the Looking Glass is fun for all ages and worth seeing in 3D.  I give it a 4.3 out of 5.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Director Bryan Singers’s X-Men: Apocalypse is really not as bad as it’s been made out to be.  Having heard some of the buzz, I went with low expectations, but was, gradually, taken in by Writer Simon Kinberg’s screenplay.
The problem is that there is not enough story to compete against the digital effects, which, though extremely competent, are too overwhelming and, ultimately, become boring.
Still, there are some excellent performances, especially that of Game of Thrones performer Sophie Turner.  Rose Byrne, also, stands out along with Evan Peters as Quicksilver, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler and Michael Fassbender as Magnito.

A good ending makes up for a lot of sins, as well.

As for its 3D, however, save your money and see the 2D version.

I give X-Men: Apocalypse a 3 out of 5.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Nice Guys

Writer/Director Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is so good in so many ways, I don’t know where to start.
First, the story Black wrote with Anthony Bagarozzi is clever, hilarious, irreverent and full of action.

Second, Russell Crowe and Gosling make a fabulous duo in this buddy film. Whereas in most such pairings, one is smart/handsome, the other goofy/gawky, here one is tough/fearless, the other is bright/bumbling. 

However, the excellence of the two male leads is overshadowed by young Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s character’s 13-year-old daughter.

Backed up by Co-Stars Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger, Yaya DaCosta and Margaret Qualley and aided by Joel Negron’s slick editing, the viewer is taken for a fast-paced ride full of laughs and excitement.

I give The Nice Guys a 4.3 out of 5 and can’t wait for a second viewing.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

If you thought last year’s Neighbors was bad, you don’t know bad.  
Writer/Director Nicholas Stoller’s  Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a swarmy collection of poor jokes and bad slapstick action that works only 15% of the time, at best, and, like its predecessor, is an embarrassment to all involved. 
I went to see it because I’m a fan of ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, who, up until now, has performed, admirably.  However, now, she’ll have to do something extremely worthwhile to win me back.

If it weren’t for the presence of Rose Byrne and a half-decent ending, this film would have been a total disaster.

However, if you get high before going, you will, probably, enjoy it, immensely.

As for me, I give Neighbors 2: Sorority Uprising a 1.9 out of 5.