The Only Living Boy in New York

A recent college graduate discovers his father is having an affair and sets out to break it up for his mother's sake. Along the way, he falls for Dad's girlfriend. Sounds a bit Woody Allen'esque, don't you think? I do.

Director Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer" a favorite, by the way) has taken a script by Allan Loeb ("The Space Between Us") and created a contrived and (I hope) unusual romance.

Part of Webb's cast:
  • Callum Turner ("War & Peace") Thomas Webb is our eponymous hero, struggling with three things: his new-found knowledge about his dad, some unexpected feelings for that girlfriend, and his stalled writing career.
  • Pierce Brosnan ("The Son") is his successful publisher father Ethan, gobsmacked by this unexpected turn of events.
  • Cynthia Nixon ("A Quiet Passion") is his bipolar mother Judith. She hasn't known which way to turn for a long time.
  • Kate Beckinsale ("Love & Friendship") is that interloper Johanna. Why does she have to be so beautiful?
  • Jeff Bridges ("Hell or High Water") W.F. Gerald is the drunken new neighbor. He insists on intruding into our hero's life, asking questions and giving advice. Bridges also serves as the narrator for this forced, meandering story.
  • Kersey Clemons ("Easy") Thomas's sweet friend Mimi hates what she sees. That job offer in Croatia looks better and better. She was the only character I could root for. 
This 88-minute, R-rated drama has everything you might expect: a technicolor love poem to New York City, an appealing cast, and good performances from both Bridges and Brosnan, but it desperately needs closed captions! A couple of secret affairs entail a LOT of whispering. And frankly, I had trouble overcoming the "ick" factor.
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Logan Lucky

I love a good heist movie and Steven Soderbergh is the master ("Ocean's 11, 12, and 13"). This time, instead of the elegantly slick characters we enjoyed in those films, we are now treated to a Southern-fried cast, sort of an "Ocean's 7-11" but the heist itself is just as fun. To remind us where we are, they mention John Denver's "Country Roads (West Virginia)" as a family favorite.

The mysterious Rebecca Blunt (who may or may not exist) is credited with the screenplay about three siblings whose family seems to be jinxed. Does that jinx extend to the Charlotte Motor Speedway?

Part of Soderbergh's cast:
  • Channing Tatum ("Magic Mike") is Jimmy, a gimpy vet who was injured in the military. His ex-wife has custody of their daughter and might be moving to another state. This decent fellow has just been laid off and REALLY needs some money. In his opinion, NASCAR is made of money!
  • Adam Driver ("Girls") Clyde lost the lower part of his arm in Iraq and is working as a one-armed bartender (his prosthesis is cosmetic). He isn't the brightest bulb in the box. 
  • Riley Keough ("Mad Max: Fury Road") Their lovely sister Mellie is a hairdresser who seems to have avoided the family jinx...so far. 
  • Katie Holmes ("The Kennedys") Ex-wife Bobbie Jo has married a successful businessman and has been awarded custody of their girl. 
  • Farrah Mackenzie ("Please Stand By") Sadie is their beloved daughter: smart, talented, and devoted to her daddy. Watch her hand him tools as he repairs a car. 
  • Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy") is the egotistical race car driver Max Chilblain
  • Jeff Gordon plays himself (a race car driver), who butts heads with Max
  • Daniel Craig ("Cowboys & Aliens") Explosives expert Joe Bang is the key to this heist. Problem is, he's in jail. He's pretty sure his brothers can help.
In my opinion, Craig is a revelation. I first realized what a fine actor he was when I saw his wrenching portrayal of doomed, convicted murderer and would-be artist Perry Smith as he is wheedled into interviews by Toby Jones' Truman Capote in "Infamous," for Capote's best seller "In Cold Blood." Both then and now, Craig's southern accent is understated and authentic. He seems to be having a whee of a time in this one! (James Bond was a sidetrack,)

In this R-rated actioner, the heist is complex, the dialogue is fun, and the end is satisfying. No vehicular mayhem, few fisticuffs, hardly any profanity, and just a bit of blowie uppie stuff. What more can we want?
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The Hitman's Bodyguard

Two of my all-time favorites in one movie! It doesn't get much better than this. A top-rated but now disgraced bodyguard has just been hired to protect a witness for the prosecution at The International Court of Justice at The Hague. Let's see them try to set aside their significant differences for as long as it takes.

Director Patrick Hughes ("The Expendables 3") working from a script by Tom O'Connor ("Fire With Fire") brings us an entertaining R-rated actioner that clocks in at just under 2 hours.

Here is part of Hughes' cast:
  • Samuel L. Jackson ("The Legend of Tarzan") Darius Kincaid is a notorious hitman who does NOT respect his new protector! "Keep me out of harm's way? I AM harm's way!"
  • Dijarn Campbell (in his first film) is the young Darius in flashbacks.
  • Ryan Reynolds ("Deadpool") Michael Bryce has successfully protected a wide variety of clients, but this time, he is NOT happy!
  • Gary Oldman ("The Space Between Us") Vladislav Dukhovich is determined to fix things before it's too late. Including that witness.
  • Salma Hayek ("Beatriz at Dinner") is hilarious as Sonia Kincaid, a wife no one can take for granted!
  • Elodie Yung ("The Defenders") Amelia is an Interpol agent who has seen Michael at his best, and at his worst, 
This is an International Court, so of course we have Asians, Russians, even Englishmen, each striving for his or her own brand of Justice.

This action-packed thriller features all kinds of vehicular mayhem, countless gunshots, endless fisticuffs and non-stop profanity (it IS Samuel L. Jackson), plus some blowie uppie stuff. The editing, particularly that extended chase scene in Amsterdam, is spectacularly good.

Our enthusiastic screening audience applauded and made a noisy exit...always a good sign!
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The Glass Castle

The alcoholic father in this messed-up family believes in Hope. To him, his main responsibility is to offer his children hope, despite the dysfunction that surrounds them. I developed an overwhelming dislike for that man and viewed his children's devotion as a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome. Knowing it is based on real life made it tougher to endure.

Working from a thought-provoking autobiography by Jeannette Walls, writer Andrew Lanham and writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton have crafted a screenplay which uses a skilled cast to perfection. The amazing casting (we see the real people during the final credits and you will be astonished) plus the superlative costume design, acting and direction are each worthy of note. Personally, I am sick and tired of poverty, alcoholism and misery, but I guess you don't have to LIKE a movie to be impressed.

Part of Cretton's cast:
  • Brie Larson (Oscar for "Room") Jeannette is the daughter who devises a way for her and her three siblings to survive. The four of them have come to realize that neither parent will help. She is her daddy's girl but even that doesn't help most of the time. She tells her fiancĂ©, "When it comes to my family, let ME do the lying!"
  • Woody Harrelson ("War for the Planet of the Apes") Rex Walls offers hope. Always hope. Only hope. We figure out that his talk is cheap long before his children do. Their father is volatile, smart, selfish and unpredictable. He tells his children "You learn through living" and sees to it that they experience a wide variety of "lessons."
  • Naomi Watts ("Twin Peaks") Rose Mary is talented, but not very maternal. To her, a piece of art is worth far more than a square meal. Ms. Watts is outstanding as she disappears into the flaky persona of a would-be artist, unwilling to leave her brutal husband or protect her children.
  • An assortment of young actors portray our heroine and her siblings at different stages of their childhood, but the outstanding Elia Anderson ("The Boss") does most of the heavy lifting. She plays Jeannette Walls as a 10 year old.
  • Robin Bartlett ("Vice Principals") is Erma. Once we know Rex's mother, we understand much more about his personality flaws.
This is a PG-13 movie, so expect some domestic violence, coping with a gaping wound, implied child molestation, and dark humor. On the other hand, Ms. Walls insists that we acknowledge the resiliency of the human spirit.

I did NOT enjoy one bit of this movie (well, maybe the arm wrestling), but it has stuck with me, which says it has some intrinsic value. YOYO (You're On Your Own).
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