Showing posts with label Marisa Tomei. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marisa Tomei. Show all posts

Friday, December 17, 2021

Review: "SPIDER-MAN: No Way Home" Brings it on Home

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 72 of 2021 (No. 1810) by Leroy Douresseaux

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Running time: 148 minutes (2 hours, 28 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
WRITERS: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (based upon the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)
PRODUCERS: Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige
EDITORS: Leigh Folsom Boyd and Jeffrey Ford
COMPOSER: Michael Giacchino


Starring:  Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx,Willem DaFoe, Alfred Molina, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei, Angourie Rice, Arian Moayed, Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, J.K. Simmons, Thomas Hayden Church, Rhys Ifans, Charlie Cox, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a 2021 superhero film and drama from director Jon Watts.  It is the eighth film in Columbia Picture's Spider-Man film franchise, and it is the third entry in a film trilogy that began with 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming.  No Way Home is also a co-production between Columbia and Marvel Studios, making it the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  In No Way Home, Peter Parker turns to fellow Avenger, Doctor Strange, for help in making the world forget that he is Spider-Man, with disastrous results.

Spider-Man: No Way Home opens one week after the events depicted in Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).  Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) identity as Spider-Man has been revealed to the world, and Spider-Man has been framed for the murder of Mysterio/Quentin Beck, whom some in the public see as a hero and a warrior.  Although his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) takes the news better than expected, Peter is stilled concerned with how the news is affecting the lives of his girlfriend, Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson (Zendaya), and his best friend, Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon).

Peter turns to Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help.  He asks Doctor Strange to cast a mystic spell that will make the world forget that he is Spider-Man, but Strange's mentor and friend, Wong (Benedict Wong), warns him about casting such a spell.  Strange casts the spell anyway, but Peter damages it by constantly asking for changes in who can remember him, which destabilizes the magic.  That in turn destabilizes the multiverse, causing cracks in reality.  Yes, the multiverse is real, and now, people from other universes who know that Peter is Spider-Man start showing up in Peter's world.  And that includes some dangerous villains who have previously engaged Spider-Man in death matches.  Peter does not know any of them, but he is determined to save them from their fates.  Is our young hero willing to pay the costs and make the sacrifices that it will take to make everything right in this world and in the wider multiverse?

Sony Pictures is determined to keep social media and media in general from spoiling the many surprises contained in its film, Spider-Man: No Way Home.  The film does a number of things very well, but it does two things particularly well.  Talking about the first could reveal spoilers, so what I will say is that this film gives us the appearances by certain characters and actors that many of us have wanted since we first heard the rumors that this film would deal with the multiverse.  Most of the character appearances are not cameos, and they contribute significantly to No Way Home.  The audience which with I saw No Way Home this past evening cheered with gusto for each special appearance.  They cheered as much as I ever heard an audience cheer during a superhero film.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a joint production between Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures' Marvel Studios.  One of the many things that Marvel's films do well is character development and drama.  No Way Home is the first film in the Sony/Marvel Spider-Man trilogy in which Peter Parker is confronted with the high costs of being Spider-Man.  Until this film, he has been relatively unscathed., but now, he learns that the decisions he makes can have ruinous consequences.  He suffers humiliations, setbacks, and heartbreaking loss.  He learns that with great power there must come great responsibility, and he learns that true heroes often make tremendous personal sacrifices for the benefit of others.  In No Way Home, Spider-Man becomes a man.

Don't get me wrong.  Spider-Man: No Way Home is certainly a true crowd-pleaser, and it is also one of the best films that I have seen this year.  As Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Tom Holland gives a wonderful performance in a film that requires him to express a wide range of emotions, sometimes from one extreme to another.  Holland, in layers, with textures, and with art, shows us the evolution of Spider-Man and especially of Peter Parker.  Spider-Man: No Way Home is one for the ages, and it is a great way to end one Spider-Man trilogy … so that the next one can come home.

9 of 10

Friday, December 17, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Review: "Spider-Man: Far From Home" Right at Home

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 12 (of 2019) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Running time: 134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
WRITERS: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (based upon the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)
PRODUCERS: Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige
EDITORS: Dan Lebental and Leigh Folsom Boyd
COMPOSER: Michael Giacchino


Starring:  Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, Cobie Smulders, Numan Acar, J.K. Simmons, Peter Billingsley, and Dawn Michelle King (voice)

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a 2019 superhero film and drama from director Jon Watts.  It is the seventh film in Columbia Picture's Spider-Man film franchise, but it is the second in a new film trilogy that began with 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Like Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home is also a co-production between Columbia and Marvel Studios, making it the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Far From Home finds Spider-Man forced to take on new responsibilities and threats in a world that has changed forever.

Spider-Man: Far From Home opens after the events depicted in Avengers: Endgame.  In Mexico, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders), a former high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who works closely with Fury, arrive to investigate an unnatural storm caused by a creature called an “Elemental.”  There, they meet a super-powered man, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who arrives to fight the creature.

In New York City, Peter Parker, who is also the Avenger known as Spider-Man (Tom Holland), is about to take a two-week summer trip to Europe with fellow students from Midtown High (the Midtown School of Science and Technology).  Peter Parker, who is still distraught over the death of fellow Avenger, Tony Stark/Iron Man, plans to use the trip to confess to his classmate MJ (Zendaya) his growing romantic feelings for her.  Peter also plans to avoid heroics and leaves his Spider-Man suits at his home in Queens.  However, Fury forcefully interrupts Peter's vacation and tells him that he is the heir to Iron Man's legacy.  Fury also demands that he help Quentin Beck, now known as “Mysterio,” fight an invasion of alien Elemental monsters.  But not all is as it appears.

I really enjoyed 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, but I thought this reboot/restart of the Spider-Man film franchise was a fluke.  Thus, as much as I wanted to see the new film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, I thought that it would probably be mediocre.  I am happy to report, dear readers, that it is not only not mediocre, but that it is also as good as Homecoming.

Sam Jackson is almost in top-form as Nick Fury (almost because there is a catch here).  J.B. Smoove and Martin Starr make the most of their scenes as the two teachers chaperoning Midtown High's European vacation.  Marisa Tomei as May Parker, and Jon Favreau as “Happy” Hogan are strong in their respective roles.  Jake Gyllenhaal does a good crazy turn as Mysterio, good because that character is one of the few aspects of the screenplay that is not well done.

Zendaya, who was quite good as MJ in the first film, does even better work in Far From Home.  Every time the film moved away from her, I wanted her back.  Jacob Batalon does scene-stealing in his supporting role as Peter Parker's friend, Ned Leeds, much as he did in the prior film.

But the star here is Tom Holland, now my favorite actor to play Spider-Man.  Holland makes Peter's grief over Tony Stark's death (in Avengers: Endgame) seem real and poignant.  At the same time, he plays the lovelorn and lovesick puppy pursuing MJ with a flair that rivals the best male romantic leads in classic teen movies.  I guess that Tom Holland's ability to play a lovesick boy finally gives Sony Pictures the YA (young adult) angle it wanted when The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) was the reboot of the franchise.

What Holland does best is portray the heroic arc and the heroic journey.  Holland's Peter Parker/Spider-Man believes that he is both not ready and not the right person to take Iron Man's place as the key Earth superhero.  As Peter Parks strives to become the hero he wants to be and is meant to be, Holland performance yield superb drama.

Spider-Man: Far From Home has a strong screenplay and expert directing.  The visual effects are fantastic, especially as seen in the final battle scene which finds Spider-Man spinning, swinging, ducking, dodging, bobbing, weaving, and being the hero, all with death-defying grace and cinematic magical prowess.

In my review of Spider-Man: Homecoming two years ago, I said that the film captured the magic, the sense of wonder, the imagination, and the freshness of Spider-Man's first appearance, which was a 12-page story included in the comic book, Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962).  Spider-Man: Far From Home stays true to the spirit of fun, adventure, mystery, and thrills that the comic book, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (1963), promised readers over five and a half decades ago.

9 of 10

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

"Spider-Man: Far From Home" Breaks Sony Box Office Record

Spider-Man™: Far From Home Breaks Sony Pictures Record As Highest-Grossing Film In Studio’s Ninety-Five Year History

Never-Before-Seen Extended Cut Featuring New Action Sequence To Be Released Labor Day Weekend

CULVER CITY, Calif. – Columbia PicturesSpider-Man: Far From Home has officially become Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing film of all time, passing the global box office gross of Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/EON Production’s Skyfall. Through Sunday, August 18, 2019, Spider-Man: Far From Home made $376.7 million domestically and $732.9 million internationally for a worldwide cume of $1.109 billion.

Starting Thursday, August 29, 2019, ahead of the holiday weekend, an extended cut of the film featuring approximately four additional minutes of a never-before-seen action sequence will be released in theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The film will also be available in IMAX® and large formats in select locations.

On its path toward this record-breaking milestone, Spider-Man: Far From Home showed incredible power at the global box office.

The film’s North American opening at $185.06 million for the six-day holiday weekend was an all-time opening six-day record for Sony Pictures, the best-ever six-day opening for a Spider-Man film, and the best six-day opening for a film launching over the Fourth of July holiday. On opening day, July 2, the film opened to the biggest Tuesday numbers of all time with $39.3 million.

Spider-Man: Far From Home became the highest-grossing Spider-Man movie overseas and opened at #1 in 65 markets including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The film’s global rollout began on June 28 in China, Hong Kong, and Japan with a $111 million cumulative opening. China debuted to $97.7 million – the seventh-largest opening of all-time for a studio film in the market and Sony Pictures’ second-biggest opening there. Japan opened with $9.4 million – the second-biggest superhero movie launch in the last decade. Hong Kong opened with $3.7 million – the fifth-biggest Friday-to-Sunday opening of all-time, and Sony Pictures’ best-ever opening in the market.

About Spider-Man™: Far From Home
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

Directed by Jon Watts. Written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers. Based on the MARVEL Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Thomas M. Hammel, Eric Hauserman Carroll, Rachel O’Connor, Stan Lee, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach serve as executive producers. The film stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit


Monday, February 19, 2018

Miami Film Festival Announces Short Film Competition Nominees

IMDbPro and MDC’s Miami Film Festival Announce 25 Finalists for IMDbPro Short Film Competition

All 25 Finalists Will Screen at the Festival and Compete for the Grand Jury Selection of the Best Short Film of the Year and $2,500 Cash Prize to be Presented at the Festival’s Awards Night Gala on March 17, 2018

MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Miami Dade College’s (MDC) acclaimed Miami Film Festival and IMDbPro (, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, unveiled 25 finalists in the Festival’s IMDbPro Short Film Competition. The 25 finalists were selected by a programming committee of filmmakers, cinephiles and film industry professionals in Miami and internationally, under the direction of the Festival’s Director of Programming, and will all screen at the Festival and compete for the Grand Jury selection of the best short film of the year, to be presented at the Festival’s Awards Night Gala on March 17, 2018. The Short Film Competition Grand Jury will include IMDb Founder and CEO Col Needham and others to be announced, and the winning filmmaker will receive a $2,500 cash prize.

    “We congratulate the finalists of the IMDbPro Short Film Competition and are pleased that all submissions were exclusively received and processed via the IMDbPro Withoutabox service, which connects filmmakers and film festivals”

The internationally renowned Miami Film Festival, which celebrates its 35th anniversary edition this year, will take place March 9 – 18, 2018 at venues across Miami. Tickets went on sale to members of the Miami Film Society on February 9, 2018 and the general public on February 16, 2018 at or 1-844-565-6433 (MIFF).

“We congratulate the finalists of the IMDbPro Short Film Competition and are pleased that all submissions were exclusively received and processed via the IMDbPro Withoutabox service, which connects filmmakers and film festivals,” said Matt Kumin, Head of IMDbPro. “This short film competition is one of the many ways we help filmmakers get discovered by a global audience and advance their careers.”

“The short film is an art form unto itself,” said Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante. “Life comes at us in short bursts, and these 25 wonderful films expertly capture the brief sensations of insight we are momentarily afforded in the enormous volume of information that crowds our lives.”

Highlights among the 25 finalists of the Festival’s 2018 IMDbPro Short Film Competition include:

  •     Adrián Cárdenas, a Cuban-American writer/director from Miami and former Major League baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, will present his NYU Tisch School of the Arts master’s thesis film, “Canoe Poems.”
  •     Six new animated shorts will compete from the National Film Board of Canada, this category’s defending champion. The 2017 Miami Film Festival’s Best Short-winning film was the NFB’s “The Head Vanishes,” by Franck Dion.
  •     Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei and Oscar-nominee Minnie Driver star in Jocelyn Stamat’s unusual sci-fi/horror entry, “Laboratory Conditions.”
  •     Three-time and currently Oscar-nominated makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji’s work in the physical transformation of 2018 Oscar nominee Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour is profiled in “The Human Face.”
  •     Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel returns to the competition for a third consecutive time with the BAFTA-nominated “A Drowning Man,” first presented as a Palme d’Or candidate at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
  •     Miami-born Michael Arcos will present his eclectic “This My Favorite Mural” and Miami-educated Sara Werner will present “The Things They Left Behind,” based on a story by Stephen King.

The complete list of 25 films in the Festival’s IMDbPro Short Film Competition are:

1. BROKEN HILL (Australia, 2017), directed by Peter Drew.
2. THE CANNONBALL WOMAN (Canada, France, Switzerland, 2017), directed by Albertine Zullo, David Toutevoix.
3. CANOE POEMS (USA, 2017), directed by Adrián Cárdenas.
4. DEYZANGEROO (Canada, 2017), directed by Ehsan Gharib.
5. A DROWNING MAN (Denmark, Greece, UK 2017), directed by Mahdi Fleifel.
6. EMMY (Canada, 2018), directed by Hannah Cheesman.
7. THE FISHERMAN (Cuba, 2017), directed by Ana A. Alpizar.
8. (FOOL TIME) JOB (France, 2017), directed by Gilles Cuvelier.
9. THE FULL STORY (UK, 2017), directed by Daisy Jacobs.
10. HOLY HILL (Dominican Republic, 2017), directed by Rodney Llaverias.
11. THE HUMAN FACE (USA, 2017), directed by Aline Pimentel.
12. LABORATORY CONDITIONS (USA, 2017), directed by Jocelyn Stamat.
13. LOS COMANDOS (USA, 2017), directed by Joshua Bennett, Juliana Schatz.
14. MANIVALD (Canada, Croatia, Estonia 2017), directed by Chintis Lundgren.
15. MI DULCINEA (Cuba, 2017), directed by Max Barbakow.
16. MOTHER (Spain, 2017), directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen.
17. MY TREASURE (El Salvador, 2017), directed by Michael Flores.
18. MY YIDDISH PAPI (Canada, 2017), directed by Éléonore Goldberg.
19. NO TRAFFIC NO MORE (Canada, 2017), directed by Julie Roy
20. SKIN FOR SKIN (Canada, 2017), directed by Kevin D. A. Kurytnik, Carol Beecher.
21. THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT (Canada, 2017), directed by Matthew Rankin.
22. THE THINGS THEY LEFT BEHIND (USA, 2017), directed by Sara Werner.
23. THIS MY FAVORITE MURAL (USA, Honduras, Costa Rica, 2017), directed by Michael Arcos.
24. TO GO (Uruguay, 2018), directed by Ilan Rosenfeld.
25. UNFINISHED, 2017 (MIXED MEDIA) (USA, 2018), directed by Rafael Salazar Moreno.

The Grand Jury selection for the IMDbPro Short Film Award and $2,500 cash prize will be presented at the Festival’s Awards Night Gala on March 17, at the Olympia Theater and The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building in downtown Miami, as part of the Festival’s CINEDWNTWN GALA series sponsored by Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Tickets for the Awards Night Gala are already on sale via 1-844-565-6433 (MIFF) or

The Canadian short films in this section are presented with the support of Telefilm Canada, and all French-language shorts are additionally presented by TV5 Monde. The screening of “Mother” is made possible with the support of Acción Cultural Española, AC/E.

For membership opportunities or more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456). Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival event housed within a college or university.

About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival
Celebrating cinema in two annual events, Miami GEMS Festival in October and its 35th annual edition March 9 – 18, 2018, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival is considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema. The annual Festival more than 60,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals. It is the only major festival housed within a college or university. In the last five years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 300 World, International, North American, U.S. and East Coast Premieres. Miami Film Festival’s special focus on Ibero-American cinema has made the Festival a natural gateway for the discovery of new talent from this diverse territory. The Festival also offers unparalleled educational opportunities to film students and the community at large. Major sponsors of the 2017-18 Festival season include Knight Foundation, American Airlines and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456).

About IMDbPro and Withoutabox
IMDbPro ( is the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals. This membership-based service includes comprehensive information and tools that are designed to help entertainment industry professionals achieve success throughout all stages of their career. IMDbPro offers members the following: detailed contact and representation information; tools to manage and showcase their IMDb profile, including the ability to select their primary images and the credits they are best “known for”; exclusive STARmeter and MOVIEmeter rankings that are determined by page views on IMDb; a casting service to post breakdowns and apply to roles; the IMDbPro app for iPhone and more. IMDbPro is owned and operated by IMDb, the #1 movie website in the world. Additionally, IMDb owns and operates Withoutabox (, the premier submission service for film festivals and filmmakers.

About Telefilm Canada—Inspired by talent. Viewed everywhere.
Created in 1967, Telefilm is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through its various funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent here at home and around the world. Telefilm also makes recommendations regarding the certification of audiovisual treaty coproductions to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund and the Talent Fund, a private donation initiative. Visit and follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at

About TV5Monde
TV5MONDE is the global French language entertainment network, broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without commercial interruptions. TV5MONDE USA is a premium pay-tv channel reaching 1.5 million viewers in the U.S. American viewers enjoy a wealth of high quality French language programming, subtitled in English, including up to 300 classic, recent and never-before-seen in the U.S. French language films per year, around the clock newscasts live from Paris, the latest series and TV dramas, premium documentaries, cultural programs and international sports coverage.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review: "Spider-Man: Homecoming" Sparkly Fresh New

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 19 (of 2017) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Running time: 133 minutes (2 hour, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi/action and violence
WRITERS:  Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers; from a screen story by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (based upon the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)
PRODUCERS: Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige
EDITORS: Debbie Berman and Dan Lebental
COMPOSER: Michael Giacchino


Starring:  Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey, Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Abraham Attah, Hannibal Buress, Michael Chernus, Garcelle Beauvais, Chris Evans, Stan Lee, and Jennifer Connelly (voice)

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a 2017 superhero film and drama from director Jon Watts.  It is the sixth film in Columbia Picture's Spider-Man film franchise, but it is the first in a new film trilogy.  Spider-Man: Homecoming is also a co-production between Columbia and Marvel Studios, making it the sixteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Homecoming finds Peter Parker trying to balance his life as a new threat to the safety of New York City emerges.

Spider-Man: Homecoming focuses on Peter Parker (Tom Holland), who is the superhero, Spider-Man.  Peter quits his high school's academic decathlon team so that he can spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man.  He tells his guardian, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), his friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), and his classmates that he needs to spend more time on the “Stark internship” given to him by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.).

One night while patrolling his neighborhood, Spider-Man sees a group of criminals robbing an ATM.  Upon confronting them, Spider-Man discovers that they are using highly-advanced weapons to which they should not have access.  Through tenacious investigating, Peter learns that the weapons are being produced by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who owns a salvage company, by using alien technology he scavenges and steals as necessary.  Peter is determined to stop Toomes, who wears a high-tech Vulture-like suit.  However, Peter's Spider-Man activities are causing friction between him and his mentor, Tony Stark, and threatens not only Peter's life, but also the life of everyone close to him.

I really liked Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in director's Sam Raimi's three Spider-Man films that started the Sony Pictures Spider-Man film franchise, although I thought that only Spider-Man 2 (2004) was really good.  I liked Andrew Garfield in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man, which I thought, at the time, to be the best Spider-Man film.

I don't know if I am ready to give up on Tobey Maguire as the best Peter Parker, but I think that Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man feature film yet.  Homecoming really sells the idea that it is about a 15-year-old playing superhero, and the film feels like a teen movie as much as it does as a superhero movie.  It is lighthearted and angsty like one of those John Hughes movies from the 1980s (say Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles).

At the same time, Spider-Man: Homecoming reminds me of Marvel Studios' first Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Iron Man (2008).  It is not ironic or coincidental that Homecoming features the movie star (Robert Downey, Jr.) and character from that 2008 film.  Like Iron Man, Homecoming focuses on making Peter Parker the center of the story, making Spider-Man a role that Peter plays.  Spider-Man is not the most important role in Peter's life; Peter's most important role is being himself.  One could say that the first Iron Man movie was about about Tony Stark (as played by Downey) than it was about Iron Man.  So it makes sense for Downey/Stark/Iron Man to appear in Homecoming to help Peter Parker find himself as Spider-Man by first finding himself.

Tom Holland gives a superb performance as Peter Parker.  His performance seems to create a heroic arc in which Peter finds himself as Spider-Man, but most importantly, finds himself and learns what is most important – how to be the best Peter Parker so that he can be the most effective Spider-Man.  [Of note, Homecoming is not an origin story and Parker is already Spider-Man when the film begins.]

Late in life, Michael Keaton seems to be convincing more and more people of just how good an actor he is.  Keaton and his villainous role (“The Vulture,” although he is never called that in the film) turn out to be quite important to this film because Keaton's performance and the character he plays are a mirror of Peter Parker's situation in many ways.  Keaton is so good and effective in this movie that he has earned the right to return in a future film.

Homecoming also features a number of good supporting performances besides Robert Downey, Jr.  Jacob Batalon is just right as Peter's friend, Ned, who is the perfect sidekick and guy-back-at-the-base.  Disney Channel star, Zendaya, makes the most of her role as Michelle Jones, and left me wanting to see much more of her.  As Peter's Aunt May, Marisa Tomei also demands more screen time.

I love Spider-Man: Homecoming.  It is the Spider-Man movie that I have been wanting ever since I first saw Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man.  Spider-Man: Homecoming captures the magic, the sense of wonder, the imagination, and the freshness of Spider-Man's first appearance, a 12-page story included in the comic book, Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)

9 of 10

Monday, July 17, 2017

The text is copyright © 2017 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: Amy Schumer Shows Her Brilliance in "Trainwreck"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 10 (of 2016) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Trainwreck (2015)
Running time:  125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use
DIRECTOR:  Judd Apatow
WRITER:  Amy Schumer
PRODUCERS:  Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel
EDITORS:  William Kerr, Peck Prior, and Paul Zucker
COMPOSER:  Jon Brion


Starring:  Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Evan Brinkman, LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Dave Attell, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Jon Glaser, Ezra Miller, Norman Lloyd, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Jones, Marisa Tomei, and Daniel Radcliffe

Trainwreck is a 2015 comedy and romance directed by Judd Apatow and written by and starring Amy Schumer.  The film focuses on a woman who prefers sexual encounters instead of committed relations and who then meets the kind of good guy that she cannot simply leave.

Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) is a party girl who drinks too much, smokes weed, and sleeps around with other guys, even when she has a boyfriend, as her current boyfriend, the muscle-bound gym-addict, Steven (John Cena), is about to discover.  Amy learned her promiscuous ways from her father, Gordon Townsend (Colin Quinn), who once told her that monogamy is not realistic.   Strangely, Amy's sister, Kim (Brie Larson), is doing just fine with her boyfriend, Tom (Mike Birbiglia), and she is even more of a mother than a stepmother to Tom's son, Allister (Evan Brinkman).

Amy writes for a raunchy men's magazine, “Snuff.”  Her boss, Dianna (Tilda Swinton), assigns her to write an article about a sports doctor named Aaron Conner (Bill Hader).  After Aaron helps her with a family matter, Amy feels a bond with him and even has sex with him.  However, Aaron sees that as the beginning of a romance, while Amy sees the sex as a one-night stand.  Amy tries to find a way to avoid monogamy, even when part of her starts to believe that Aaron could be the good guy she needs to keep.

If you like Amy Schumer (and I do), you will like Trainwreck (and I do – for the most part).  As a romantic comedy, however, the film really doesn't work.  Bill Hader is a comedian and a professional impersonator (at which he is quite good), but he has no business trying to be a romantic lead.  There is nothing remotely interesting about him in this film; he delivers what is almost a zombie performance.

I really don't buy Schumer as a romantic lead or as a magazine writer.  Schumer is at her best when she is skewering social, sexual, and gender conventions.  The character Amy Townsend is at her best when she is being a one-night stand or is mocking other people's ambitions of respectability.  When actress Amy tries to make fictional Amy fall in love... well, it's a trainwreck.

Tilda Swinton gives a killer performance as Amy's despicable boss, Dianna.  Swinton can disappear behind even the least amount of movie make-up and hair with the best of them.  John Cena delivers a sparkling two-scene performance as Steven.  Every time Colin Quinn is on screen as Amy's father, Gordon, he is a delight to see.  Director Judd Apatow does not do much here, except get out of Amy Schumer's way, which works when it works, but he does nothing to save the last third of this film which is a... trainwreck.

Still, for most of this movie, Amy Schumer proves why she is currently an it-girl.  She is brilliant when she is at the top of her game, and in Trainwreck, she occasionally shows off her brilliance.

6 of 10

Friday, January 8, 2016

Edited: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Golden Globes, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” (Amy Schumer)

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Negromancer News Bits and Bites for July 4th to 11th, 2015 - Update #11

Support Leroy on Patreon.


From Variety:  Avengers and Inside Out help push Disney over $3 billion in global box office gross.

From BoxOfficeMojo:  It looks like "Jurassic World" will still be #1 at the box office for the July 4th 2015 weekend box office.

COMIC BOOKS - Films and Books:

From THR:  Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will unite in a comic book.

From CBR:  Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson are announced as artist for "Batman: The Dark Knight III: The Master Race."

From CBR:  Wesley Snipes says that he has met with more about playing "Blade" again.

From Variety:  Marisa Tomei will reportedly be the new Aunt May in the Spider-Man reboot.

From ThePlaylist:  "X-Men: Apocalypse" is the real first X-Men film, says Bryan Singer.

From EW:  More on the upcoming new X-Men film.


From YouTube:  New trailer for "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip."


From TheGuardian:  The actor, Omar Sharif, died at the age of 83 in Egypt on Friday, July 10, 2015.  Sharif is known for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago.

From THR:  Movie producer Jerry Weintraub died today, Monday, July 6, 2015, at the age of 77.  He produced the original Ocean's 11 and The Karate Kid films and the remakes and sequels.  He received an Emmy Award for producing the TV bio-film, Behind the Candelabra, one of three he won.

From Deadline:  Michael Douglas's mother, Diana Douglas, died on Saturday, July 4th, 2015.  She was Kirk Douglas' first wife.  She was 92.

From TheWrap:  The actress Amanda Peterson was recently found dead in her Colorado home.  She was best known for her role in 80's classic, Can't Buy Me Love.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Adam McKay's "The Big Short" Announces Cast Brad Pitt and Steve Carell



HOLLYWOOD, CA – Paramount Pictures, New Regency and Plan B Entertainment today announced casting for “THE BIG SHORT,” with Christian Bale (“AMERICAN HUSTLE,” “THE DARK KNIGHT” trilogy), Steve Carell (“FOXCATCHER”), Ryan Gosling (“DRIVE,” “CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE”) and Brad Pitt (“FURY,” “WORLD WAR Z”) coming aboard the project for director Adam McKay (the “ANCHORMAN” films, “THE OTHER GUYS”). The film also stars Melissa Leo (“THE FIGHTER,” “FROZEN RIVER”) and Marisa Tomei (“CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE,” “THE WRESTLER”).

The film’s screenplay is written by McKay, from a script by Charles Randolph (“LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS”), based on Michael Lewis’ bestselling non-fiction book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

“THE BIG SHORT” is the remarkable true story of the genius contrarian investors who, recognizing just how insane the housing bubble had become, figured out how to “short” the market prior to the financial collapse of 2008.

Rounding out the cast is Tracy Letts (“Homeland,” “ELVIS & NIXON”), Hamish Linklater (“The Newsroom,” “42”), John Magaro (“UNBROKEN,” “NOT FADE AWAY”), Byron Mann (“THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS,” “RISE OF THE LEGEND”), Rafe Spall (“LIFE OF PI,” “PROMETHEUS”), Jeremy Strong (“SELMA,” “ZERO DARK THIRTY”) and Finn Wittrock (“UNBROKEN,” “American Horror Story”).

The movie will be produced by Academy Award®-winners Pitt, Dede Gardner (“SELMA,” “12 YEARS A SLAVE”) and Jeremy Kleiner (“SELMA,” “12 YEARS A SLAVE”) via their Plan B Entertainment banner.

Production has begun in New Orleans.

About Paramount Pictures Corporation
Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.

About New Regency
Founded in 1991 by renowned producer Arnon Milchan, New Regency is actively engaged in entertaining the world.  The company has produced some of the most successful and critically-acclaimed films of all time with over 125 films and more than 50 television series in the company’s vast library, including 2014 Academy Award®-winning Best Picture, “12 Years A Slave.” New Regency is also dedicated to continuing to foster its unparalleled filmmaker relationships and today boasts partnerships with most acclaimed and sought-after creative forces in the industry.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: "Parental Guidance" Good for Families

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 44 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Parental Guidance (2012)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some rude humor
DIRECTOR: Andy Fickman
WRITERS: Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse
PRODUCERS: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, and Billy Crystal
EDITOR: Kent Beyda
COMPOSER: Marc Shaiman


Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, Rhoda Griffis, and Gedde Watanabe

Parental Guidance is a 2012 comedy and family film from director Andy Fickman. The film stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents who agree to look after their three grandchildren whose modern kid attitudes clash with their old-school ways.

Artie and Diane Decker (Bette Midler and Billy Crystal) live in California. Artie is the announcer for the Fresno Grizzlies, until he is fired because he is not familiar with new technology and social media. Diane thinks this is the perfect opportunity to take their daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei), and her husband, Phil Simmons (Tom Everett Scott), up on an offer to watch their three children, while they attend a conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Artie and Diane fly to Atlanta where Alice and her family live, but they have a few misgivings about the week with the children. In recent years, they have not seen their grandchildren much, and are now practically “the other grandparents.” Plus, Artie and Diane are old school, while Alice and Phil are type-A helicopter parents who micromanage their children’s’ lives and overdo it on building self-esteem.

Artie and Diane are quickly reacquainted with the grandchildren: eldest child and daughter, 12-year-old Harper (Bailee Madison); the middle child, 8-year-old Turner (Joshua Rush), who has a stutter; and 5-year-old Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), who has an imaginary friend, a kangaroo he’s named Carl. The children think their grandparents are weird, and Barker calls Artie, “Farty.” Now, Artie and Diane have a week to get to really know their only three grandchildren, but that means they’ll have to earn these youngsters’ trust and love.

Parental Guidance starts off as one of those movies created by people who criticize the way other people rear their children. People see sports leagues that give every participating child a trophy simply for participating as a sign of the apocalypse. I have to admit that I find parents that won’t tell their children “No” or “Don’t” in order not to inhibit their creativity, ridiculous. But the republic will survive parents that don’t set boundaries for their children… I hope.

The movie, however, is really about the grandparents, Artie and Diane Decker, and their relationship-building with their grandchildren. The movie follows the struggle of the old school grandparents versus the modern, excessively tolerant parents to a lesser extent. And Parental Guidance is better for it. Who wants to see a movie about two people and their daughter and son-in-law exchanging harsh, snide comments about parenting? I don’t, although I don’t know about you, dear reader.

In some ways, Parental Guidance is mediocre, which is most obvious when Crystal and Midler have to over-act and over-react to make up for flimsy character development. Andy Fickman’s direction is professional and functional, but is also colorless and sometimes uneven.

But the magic in Parental Guidance is watching two grandparents bond with their lovely grandchildren. This film is more sweet than sentimental, and there are moments when the interaction between a grandparent and child seems genuine and honest. The kick-the-can and Turner calls the Giants game scenes make this movie a winner in spite of any blemishes. Talk about a feel good movie: Parental Guidance might be a frothy take on the grandparents and grandchildren dynamic, but it is an irresistible treat.

6 of 10

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" More Than a Spin-Off

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 22 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)
Running time: 85 minutes (1 hour, 25 minutes)
MPAA - PG for some adventure peril
DIRECTORS: Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath
WRITER: Kate Boutilier (based upon the characters created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, Steve Pepoon, David Silverman, and Stephen Sustarsic)
PRODUCERS: Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo
EDITOR: John Bryant
COMPOSERS: Randy Kerber, Drew Neumann, and Paul Simon
Academy Award nominee


Starring: (voices) Lacy Chabert, Tom Kane, Cree Summer, Tim Curry, Lynn Redgrave, Jodi Carlisle, Danielle Harris, Flea, Crystal Scales, Kimberly Brooks, Alfre Woodard, Brock Peters, Marisa Tomei, and Rupert Everett

The subject of this movie review is The Wild Thornberrys Movie, a 2002 animated feature film. This hand-drawn (or 2D) animated movie is based on the long-running Nickelodeon animated TV series of the same title, The Wild Thornberrys.

The film's winning story finds The Thornberry clan on safari doing what they usually do. Nigel (Tim Curry), the father, hosts a nature show, and Marianne (Jodi Carlisle), the mother, films it. Elder daughter, Debbi (Danielle Harris), is annoyed to be in Africa instead of back in civilization. Adopted wild boy, Donnie (Flea), is doing his wild boy thing.

Eliza (Lacey Chabert), ostensibly the lead character, explores nature with Darwin (Tom Kane), her chimpanzee best friend. You see, Lacey rescued a tribal shaman and he bestowed upon her the magical gift of being able to talk to animals. When a poacher snatches a cheetah cub, Eliza and Darwin launch a daring rescue mission that takes them from Africa to England and back to Africa, where Eliza discovers that the poaching of the cub was just the beginning of a larger conspiracy to massacre thousands of elephants for their tusks.

That many people looked at this film upon its release in 2002 as merely a film spin-off of a TV show is a shame. The Wild Thornberrys Movie is simply a great animated feature film, especially when compared to 9 out of 10 American-produced animated films released since 2002. Producers Klasky-Csupo, the two directors, the screenwriter, and the creative staff envisioned a mini-epic that spans two continents and takes the viewers through a multitude of environments.

The thrilling action starts in sprawling grassland of Africa and heads to a boarding school in the English countryside. The sprawl of central London leads to a subway ride, which becomes a plane ride. Then, a train ride back to the plains of Africa leads deep into the jungle and finally into a hidden valley for the showdown. It's a breathtaking action adventure that recalls Raiders of the Lost Ark and the older films that inspired Raiders.

The voice acting is good top to bottom (although Chabert, Kane, and Harris are personal favorites), and the soundtrack is a tasty gumbo of world music and cross-cultural jams. The inventive character design captures both the fun and imagination of cartoons. The animation (by Korean studio Sunwoo Entertainment) moves in a smooth, brisk manner, and the digital color emphasizes earth tones and golden hues that are pitch perfect with this film's story and message. The Wild Thornberrys Movie, a treat for young and the young at heart, is both a pastoral and a call to get in touch with the wild.

9 of 10

2003 Academy Awards: 1 nomination for "Best Music, Original Song" ("Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Ides of March movie review

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 7 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Ides of March (2011)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive language
DIRECTOR: George Clooney
WRITERS: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon (based upon Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North”)
PRODUCERS: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Brian Oliver
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phedon Papamichael
EDITOR: Stephen Mirrione
COMPOSER: Alexandre Desplat
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/POLITICS with elements of a thriller

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, and Max Minghella

The Ides of March is a 2011 political drama directed by George Clooney. The film is based on the 2008 play, Farragut North, by Beau Willimon, who also co-wrote the screenplay for this film adaptation. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the film’s executive producers, and his production company, Appian Way Productions, is one of this film’s financial backers. The Ides of March is kind of a thriller, but it doesn’t really work as a thriller. The best moments are when the film puts two characters together in a clash or test of wills.

The film focuses on Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), the Junior Campaign Manager for a Democratic presidential candidate, Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). Morris’ campaign is competing in the Democratic primary, and the latest battleground is the state of Ohio, where Morris battles the other Democratic presidential candidate, Arkansas Senator Ted Pullman. Both campaigns are also attempting to win the endorsement of U.S. Senator Franklin Thompson (Jeffrey Wright), D-North Carolina.

Meyers is doing well at his job, but he gets involved in two troublesome situations. First, he holds a secret meeting with Pullman’s Campaign Manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). Then, he becomes embroiled in drama with a Morris campaign intern, Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood). One entanglement could ruin Meyers, but the other has the potential to destroy the Morris campaign.

The Ides of March feels restrained to me. The entire movie simmers like a dish that needs to boil-over, but doesn’t know how or when to do it. The best moments in the film are when two characters clash. The best confrontations feature Meyers and Senior Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) or Meyers and Molly Stearns. There is one major test of wills between Meyers and his boss, Mike Morris (who is Governor of Pennsylvania), and another between Meyers and Sen. Thompson. Both occur in the film’s last act, but these moments made me realize that this movie should have had more scenes featuring Meyers, Morris, and Thompson in some combination. It is as if the best stuff is happening off-camera.

Honestly, I can recommend The Ides of March to people that enjoy watching particular members of this cast act in dramas, especially Gosling and Clooney. I think people who like political dramas will like this, although they should not expect this to be humorous or satirical (at least not in an obvious way). Although it has an electrifying second half, The Ides of March isn’t as good or as visceral as it could be.

7 of 10

2012 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” (George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon)

2012 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Adapted Screenplay” (Beau Willimon, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov) and “Best Supporting Actor” (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

2012 Golden Globes: 4 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (George Clooney), “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Ryan Gosling), and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, and George Clooney)

2012 Image Awards: 1 nomination: “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Jeffrey Wright)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: "Crazy, Stupid, Love." is Crazy, Stupid, Funny

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 102 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Running time: 118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language
DIRECTORS: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
WRITER: Dan Fogelman
PRODUCERS: Steve Carell and Denise Di Novi
EDITOR: Lee Haxall
COMPOSER: Christophe Beck and Nick Urata


Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Joey King, Marisa Tomei, Beth Littleford, John Carroll Lynch, Kevin Bacon, Liza Lapira, Josh Groban, and Algerita Lewis

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a 2011 romantic comedy starring Steve Carell (who is also one of the film’s producers) and Julianne Moore. The film is essentially an ensemble comedy, but the central focus is a couple whose 20-year marriage dissolves. The title fits the film perfectly, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. gets crazy and stupid enough to make me love it, in spite of my best efforts to act as if I were above liking this kind of romantic comedy.

While dining out one night, Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) gets some shocking news from his wife of 20 years, Emily (Julianne Moore). Not only does she want a divorce, but Emily also admits to having sex with one of her coworkers, an accountant named David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Cal moves out of their home and begins to frequent a popular bar, where his complaints catch the sympathetic ear of a dashing young womanizer, Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).

Jacob teaches the fine art of womanizing to Cal, who eventually begins a series of one-night stands. However, Jacob soon meets the one woman that can tame him, Hannah (Emma Stone), a young law student. In the meantime, Jessica Riley (Analeigh Tipton), the 17-year-old girl who baby sits Cal’s children, falls in love with Cal. However, Cal’s 13-year-old son, Robbie Weaver (Jonah Bobo), is madly in love with Jessica. As love goes mad all around him, Cal still can’t stop wanting to reunite with Emily, but does she want the same thing?

Crazy, Stupid, Love. could have the words “awkward” and “misunderstanding,” added to the title, as the film strains credulity with a number of timely coincidences. These lead to set pieces which depict one embarrassing moment after another for one or more characters. By the way, all the characters seem pretty much the same and are shallow; they are lovable, but still shallow. Still, mortification is what makes this movie such a sweet romantic film. Being married and/or being a parent is bittersweet, but you love your loved ones even in those moments when you hate them or when they embarrass and humiliate you.

Crazy, Stupid, Love., for all its contrivances, gets that, and Dan Fogelman’s script weaves the contrived and the coincidental into a lovely tale of committed love. There is a huge and shocking reveal in the movie’s last act and a speech near the end of the film that should both make us cringe. Instead, they exemplify the ability of Crazy, Stupid, Love. to make us stupid, crazy in love with it.

7 of 10

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: "Anger Management" Overdoes It (Happy B'day, Adam Sandler)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 50 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Anger Management (2003)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude sexual content and language
DIRECTOR: Peter Segal
WRITER: David Dorfman
PRODUCERS: Barry Bernardi and Jack Giarraputo
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Donald M. McAlpine (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jeff Gourson

COMEDY with elements of drama

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzman, John Turturro with Woody Harrelson, Lynne Thigpen, John C. Reilly, and Heather Graham

First of, let me say that Anger Management is extremely funny and all the characters are very well played, from the stars to the smaller roles. I’m still surprised that this movie was able to keep its hilarious energy so long. Actually, it doesn’t naturally run out of steam. All at once, the filmmakers decide to screw up the ending.

Dave Buznick (Adam Sandler) is a under appreciated, low level secretary who is wrongly sentenced to an anger management program, after a ridiculous incident on an airplane. He has the luck of one-eyed, one-legged dog, so he only gets into more trouble after he enters the program. His counselor, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), decides to move into Dave’s apartment so that he gave give his patient 24-hour intensive therapy. The problem is Rydell, in Dave’s eyes, is more crazy and angrier than he could ever be. However, he’s forced to live with Rydell’s unorthodox and bizarre behavior, causing Dave to slowly go insane, which is the very last thing he needs because another alleged outburst of extreme rage and the judge (Lynne Thigpen) would sentence Dave to a year in state prison.

Sandler and Nicholson make an excellent comedy team, and they have such amazing, yet surprising chemistry. Jack does what he does best; he’s the wicked, little devil and conniving imp at the seat of the controls – the conductor, the master manipulator, Rasputin.

Sandler tempers the sullen and explosive character traits that he gives most of his others characters to play Dave Buznick, who is a put upon guy simmering quietly beneath his clothes and ready to have one good explosion. He makes Dave very sympathetic. The audience can feel the stings of the wrongs done to Dave and can root for him to win. I know that I certainly wanted him to just really get angry and let his tormentors have it. This is an understated performance that’s just obvious enough to work. However, Sandler does experience the occasional lapse; he plays such a second banana to Nicholson’s antics that he falls into moments when he isn’t even acting. It’s like he’s just serving up volleys for Nicholson to jump on, and he’s just an emcee. Still, Sandler and Nicholson worked together like a veteran comedy team.

There’s not much to the story, and a plot is nonexistent. Really, the writing and directing only exist to serve as staging for the two main players to exercise their shtick. It’s much the same with the supporting cast, but they make the most of their onscreen time, especially Luiz Guzman and John Turturro. Sadly, Marisa Tomei is less than a cipher, and her talent is wasted; pretty much any actress of modest attractiveness could have played her part.

Now to the end – it’s mostly a New York Yankees, New York City, NYC folk heroes love fest, and it kills this movie. In fact, the resolution of the story and the ridiculous explanation for Dr. Rydell’s behavior almost kills the story and certainly retards Nicholson’s very entertaining character and performance. There are certainly several other endings that would have made perfect sense in the context of Rydell’s antics and Buznick’s predicament. Instead, the filmmakers tie everything up in a most awful and sappy finale that truly deserves to be called a “Hollywood Ending.” Worst of all is a cameo by Rudolph “Rudy” W. Giuliani, former mayor of NYC. He is someone I wish would have been in the Twin Towers the day they fell and not made it out alive.

Girl, did I say that? Anyway, Anger Management is still very funny, at least up to the end, and worth seeing.

6 of 10


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Half of "The Lincoln Lawyer" Remains Unseen

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 65 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Running time: 118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
MPAA – R for some violence, sexual content and language
DIRECTOR: Brad Furman
WRITER: John Romano (based upon the novel by Michael Connelly)
PRODUCERS: Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Scott Steindorff, and Richard S. Wright
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lukas Ettlin (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jeff McEvoy
COMPOSER: Cliff Martinez


Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Bob Gunton, Frances Fisher, Bryan Cranston, Trace Adkins, Laurence Mason, Margarita Levieva, Pell James, Shea Whigham, Michael Paré, and Reggie Baker

The Lincoln Lawyer is a 2011 courtroom drama and legal thriller starring Matthew McConaughey as the lead character, Mickey Haller. The film is based upon the 2005 novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, the first book in the Mickey Haller series from American crime writer, Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a criminal defense attorney who operates around Los Angeles County in a Lincoln Town Car, currently driven by his chauffer, Earl (Laurence Mason). Haller has spent his career defending the usual suspects (drug dealers, murderers), but he has just landed the case of his career. Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy, has been charged in the brutal beating of a sex worker, Regina Campo (Margarita Levieva). Mickey’s sleazy reputation and Roulet’s tastes for prostitutes, however, only complicate an already difficult case.

I have not read the book upon which The Lincoln Lawyer is based, so I don’t know how close the movie is to novel. Watching this film, I got the idea that screenwriter John Romano and director Brad Furman certainly tried to squeeze as much of the novel as they could into the movie. As good as this film is, a lot of the story seems to be happening offstage or off-camera, in this case. I lost track of how many times, supporting and minor characters ran up to McConaughey’s Mickey Haller and talked about something big they did or found out for him. I kept thinking, “Did I miss something?” It is as if half of the movie takes place out of sight, and only the half with Haller actually happens in front of the audience. That makes many of the film’s twist and turns and sudden revelations seem contrived and arbitrary.

However, I do think that Matthew McConaughey gives a very good, layered, and textured performance, one that makes Haller, who is way too sleazy, an engaging character that you might want to follow around L.A. This is probably the best performance of McConaughey’s career and certainly his best turn as a dramatic actor in a long time. He makes The Lincoln Lawyer worth seeing. He makes a problematic legal thriller something of a thrill to watch.

6 of 10

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

It Gets Ugly in Fine "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 24 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Running time: 117 minutes (1 hour, 57 minutes)
MPAA – R for a scene of strong graphic sexuality, nudity, violence, drug use, and language
DIRECTOR: Sidney Lumet
WRITER: Kelly Masterson
PRODUCERS: Michael Cerenzie, William S. Gilmore, Brian Linse, and Paul Parmar
EDITOR: Tom Swartwout


Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, Rosemary Harris, Aleksa Palladino, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, and Brian F. O’Byrne

Andrew “Andy” Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his brother, Henry “Hank” Hanson (Ethan Hawke), plot to rob their parents’ jewelry store, Hanson Jewelers. Hank is also sleeping with Andy’s wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei). Charles Hanson (Albert Finney) and his wife, Nanette (Rosemary Harris), have no idea what their prodigal sons are plotting. When the job goes horribly wrong, the botched robbery triggers off a series of events that sends the brothers, their associates, and their family towards a shattering climax.

Famed director Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon) was 82-years-old when he directed the riveting crime drama, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. [The title comes from the old Irish saying, “May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”] Yet the five-time Oscar nominee for “Best Director” (and winner of an Honorary Oscar) seems as fresh today as he did half a century ago. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a mesmerizing, raw open wound that examines the murderous extents to which desperate people will go, the complicated dynamics of parent/child relationships, and sibling rivalries.

Much of Lumet’s reputation as a director is built around his ability to get intense, riveting, and memorable performances out of actors. Everyone in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is at the top of his game, even the smaller parts. The usually-fine Albert Finney surprises with a compelling performance that delivers a gut punch. The underrated Ethan Hawke subtly and slyly delivers Hank Hanson in a way that is as funny as it is heart-wrenching. It’s Hawke’s way of revealing how pathetic Hank is.

Philip Seymour Hoffman made 2007 a banner year for him by giving three superb performances in a diversity of roles (in such films as Charlie Wilson’s War and The Savages). Here, his Andy Hanson is a tightly-wound thief and addict capable of sincere emotion and unexpected emotional outbursts. Hoffman simply presents that in unique ways that enhance the drama rather than detract from it with a showy performance.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is similar to Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Oscar-winning 1996 film about a plot to kill family for money. Devil may lack Fargo’s dry wit, black humor, and wacky imagination, but Devil goes deeper into the dark heart of an angry family. Lumet and company really let the ugly be ugly.

7 of 10

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review: "Wild Hogs" is Funny and Charming

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 53 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Wild Hogs (2007)
Running time: 99 minutes (1 hour, 39 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and some violence
DIRECTOR: Walt Becker
WRITER: Brad Copeland
PRODUCERS: Brian Robbins & Michael Tollin and Todd Lieberman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robbie Greenberg (director of photography)
EDITOR: Christopher Greenbury and Stuart Pappé


Starring: Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Ray Liotta, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Durand, M.C. Gainey, Jill Hennessy, Dominic Janes, Tichina Arnold, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jason Sklar and Randy Sklar

In the comedy, Wild Hogs, four middle-aged friends decide to take a cross-country road trip on their motorcycles. It’s the buddy comedy times four, and although it might be mediocre compared to an Oscar wannabe, Wild Hogs delivers laughs every time just like reliable fast food and a cold Coke.

Doug Madsen (Tim Allen), Woody Stevens (John Travolta), Bobby Davis (Martin Lawrence), and Dudley Frank (William H. Macy) are the “Wild Hogs,” weekend motorcycle enthusiasts who enjoy riding their bikes to a local biker bar where they drink beers. This mismatched foursome is beset by stressful jobs and family obligations, so Woody talks them into hitting the open road for adventure. The trip starts off rough, but in spite of some misadventures, they’re having fun.

However, these biker wannabes get more than they bargained for when they encounter the real-life biker gang the Del Fuegos. Their leader, Jack (Ray Liotta), doesn’t like the Wild Hogs, viewing them as posers. The Wild Hogs-Del Fuegos feud escalates into a showdown in the small desert town of Madrid, where the shy Dudley has finally found a girlfriend in Maggie (Marisa Tomei), owner of the local bar and grill.

What’s the point of a long review when talking about a movie like Wild Hogs? This isn’t film art. Still, I liked it… a lot, and it was funny. I’m a big fan of Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence’s movies, and when they have halfway decent material and if they’re on, they’re funny, which they were here. Allen is off his game here and still funny, but Lawrence is more on his game and makes sure Bobby Davis doesn’t come across as a mere token. William H. Macy, the best actor of the quartet, really sells his lovable nerd character, making him blissfully naïve and as thick as a brick wall, but giving him surprising moments of spontaneity and edge. John Travolta is pudgy and slow, but he fits in with the rest in an odd sort of way.

The women in this movie seem dehydrated and tired, except for Tichina Arnold who can turn on the black woman sass in an instant. Ray Liotta is intense as all get out, so much so one would think he thought this was a crime thriller and not PG-13, Hollywood mass audience product. Still, his edgy, hard-ass, bad guy act provides a nice balance to the star quartet’s goofiness.

No, Wild Hogs isn’t great, but a generous helping of coarse humor, sexual innuendo, a couple scenes of bare white ass, poop jokes, physical comedy, stereotypes, and plenty of visual gags make this movie funny on demand. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

7 of 10

Sunday, March 25, 2007