The Heiress (on Broadway)

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Not a movie but I wanted to review it here anyway as it’s definitely worth going to see. This Broadway play is a remake, but I was unfamiliar with the story, so unlike with most movies I had seen no previews, read no reviews (it’s still in previews, so not yet reviewed by critics, maybe this is a first!), and only heard Jessica Chastain talk about it recently at a NY Times Talk. She made it sound interesting, and gave her perspective on approaching a challenging role, which is the title character, a 20 something daughter of a rich doctor, living in a luxurious house right off Washington Square Park in NY City in 1850 (apparently stethescopes had just been invented). The good doctor (played fantastically with nuance and sophisticated nastiness by David Stathairn) sees his daughter (Catherine, superbly protrayed by Chastain) as worthless, charmless, plain (shades of Jane Eyre) and unlikely to attract a decent suitor if not for her inheritance. He has raised her waiting hopelessly for her to transform into her supposedly perfect, saintly mother, who died in childbirth. Catherine cannot win his respect and has never succeeded in trying to be the perfect daughter, leading to low self-esteem and feeling unworthy of love. Enter Mr. Right, Morris (a spot-on Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey, but without his English accent), who’s immediately smitten with her, but has no way to qualify as a suitor in the father’s eyes, given his lack of money and prospects. I won’t give away any more plot, but it kept my attention and has a perfect ending. Also worth mentioning is Judith Ivey as Catherine’s doting aunt, who serves to lightern the mood and lends a perfect counterpoint to the her brother, the dour doctor.

After the show I got a chance to meet the wonderful and beautiful Jessica Chastain, who was as nice as anything to the fans. If you’d be interested in reading a more insightful, in depth, review, see here: http://technorati.com/entertainment/article/jessica-chastain-dan-stevens-david-strathairn/

 

Argo

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed this movie which is based on true events during the Iranian hostage crisis during the late 1970s. I had totally forgotten that six Americans escaped and hid in the home of the Canadian ambassador. This is the story of the efforts by the CIA and the Canadians to sneak the six out of the country before they are discovered by the Iranians.

Ben Affleck stars and directs. He is turning into a good director; his previous film was the excellent The Town. He give a sold performance and also gets good performances from the always excellent John Goodman, Bryan Crasnton, Alan Arkin, and several supporting actors/actresses.

The film does a good job of recreating the embassy takeover and the environment in Iran at the time. It’s hard to believe that was over 30 years ago. The film also creates tension for an event where the outcome is known while throwing in some timely humor. The movie takes some poetic license to increase the tension but that is OK. Argo is definitely worth seeing.

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Echoing Bill’s review above, it’s a terrific, suspenseful, fast moving film, that surprised me given the fact that the ending is known to all of us in advance. Some random thoughts: 1) If you were one of these embassy workers hiding out in Tehran in the middle of the unpredictable hostage crisis, your life depending upon remaining un-recognized, especially when you are trying to escape via the major airport, wouldn’t you shave your mustache, or dye your hair, or get a new hairdo? 2) If you were the “Exfil” (not sure what that stands for) expert from the CIA (Ben Affleck’s character) and posing as 1 of a 6 person film crew, prepared to be questioned by the Revolutionary Guard about everything from who’s financing the film, to what is the plot, and what is the back story for each of the crew,  would you keep your crew housed in the Canadian ambassador’s house while you stayed in the nice high rise hotel? 3) If you were the CIA honcho leading the operation from HQ (an excellent Bryan Cranston), and you needed a phone manned from the film company in case an Iranian Revolutionary Guard decided to test Affleck’s “proof” that it’s a legitimate film, wouldn’t you staff a local LA based CIA agent at the phone 24×7 in case they called? In fact in 1979 wasn’t it technically possible to route an LA phone number directly to CIA HQ? 4) Finally, given the time difference (10 or 11 hours ahead of LA in Tehran), how likely is it that when they try to board the flight from Tehran (it’s light out, so it’s probably before 7 pm in Tehran) that the film company is working and manning its phones when you call to check? (6 pm in Tehran would be 7:30 am in LA). All quibbles I know, and since it’s a real story, there must be legitimate answers.

It is fascinating at the end, so be sure to sit through the beginning of the credits, to see how closely certain scenes matched the real scenes as documented from the 1979 events. And the actual people are shown, who are stunningly close to lookalikes to the actors. All except for our man, Ben, who in no way resembles the real (hispanic) Tony Mendez. I guess Benecio Del Toro, Javier Bardem and Ricky Martin (ha) were busy when they cast this film. What’s next for Ben, playing the lead in a remake of Malcolm X?

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

Favorite Sitcom Characters

And now for something completely different. Here’s my all-time favorite sitcom characters, respond with yours:

  1. Ralph Kramden (Honeymooners)
  2. Archie Bunker (All in the Family)
  3. Fred Sanford (Sanford & Son)
  4. Barney Fife (Andy of Mayberry)
  5. Ed Norton (Honeymooners)
  6. Lucy Ricardo (The Lucy Show)
  7. Louie DePalma (Taxi)
  8. Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)
  9. Hank Kingsley (Larry Sanders Show)
  10. Herman Munster (The Munsters)
  11. Gilligan (Gilligan’s Island)
  12. Maxwell Smart (Get Smart)
  13. George Costanza (Seinfeld)
  14. Edith Bunker (All in the Family)
  15. Cliff Huxtable (Cosby Show)
  16. Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)
  17. Granny Clampett (Beverly Hillbillies)
  18. Jethro Bodine (Beverly Hillbillies)
  19. Latka Gravas (Taxi)
  20. Newman (Seinfeld)
  21. Quinton McHale (McHale’s Navy)
  22. Dick Louden (Newhart)
  23. Eddie Haskell (Leave it to Beaver)
  24. Fonzie (Happy Days)
  25. Beavis (Beavis and Butthead)
  26. Al Bundy (Married with Children)
  27. Jack McFarland (Will and Grace)
  28. Ted Baxter (Mary Tyler Moore)
  29. Rob Petrie (The Dick Van Dyke Show)
  30. Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore)
  31. Carla Tortelli (Cheers)
  32. Norm Peterson (Cheers)
  33. Cliff Clavin (Cheers)
  34. Felix Unger (The Odd Couple)
  35. Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple)
  36. Radar O’Reilly (M*A*S*H)

Seven Psychopaths

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Is this a nutty, inconsistent, bloody, misogynistic movie? Yes it is! Is it also great fun, with classic moments and lines from Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson, and an unpredictable plot that makes this the ultimate meta-movie? Yes! The main character, played as an alcoholic straight man Colin Farrell, is struggling to write a movie script and all he has to start with is a great title (same as this movie), and his BFF (nutcase Sam Rockwell) does all he can to help him out, including identifying real-life psychopaths he can fit into the script, while he goes about his dog-napping sideline to help his other buddy, Walken, pay for his wife’s cancer surgery. Need I mention this is a comedy? The cast is terrific, including I have to mention again the ultimate Christopher Walken, Tom Waits (I recognized him, after not seeing seen him since 1976 when I approached him back stage at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre), Harry Dean Stanton (not too many lines of dialogue for Harry, in fact, maybe none) and Gabourey Sidibe (also not many lines, but stuck in an unforgettable scene with ultra-gangster Woody). And fans of Boardwalk Empire will enjoy seeing two stars from that series in the opening sequence (the dude who plays Rothstein and the young Jimmy Darmody). I don’t think they needed much time on the set given the short screen time they are given. It’s a meta movie because the psychopaths in the movie become the psychopaths in Colin Farrell’s script. Be sure to sit through the ending credits (the first minute) to see the perfect ending. If you are squeamish about bullets and knife play, or don’t get the humor in the over the top misogynism (it’s tongue in cheek!), then go see Here Comes the Boom), but if you are true fan of Bill and Bill, check this out!

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I finally saw this movie and just wanted to add a few quick thoughts:

– I want to complement Bill on a really excellent review.  Not only is the review insightful, but I learned the meaning of a new word, misogynistic!

– While all the actors were great, I thought Sam Rockwell stole the show.

– If you like this movie, go rent In Bruges by the same director.  I liked Seven Psychopaths and recommend it, but I liked In Bruges even better.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

Arbitrage

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Richard Gere plays a cool billionaire wall street mega-dealer akin to today’s private equity and hedge fund super stars; in fact he could be the same guy from Pretty Woman, just 30 years later, but none the worse for wear, on the surface. His perfect family, perfect society wife (Susan Sarandon) and perfect girl on the side (Laetitia Casta, who started as my all-time favorite Victoria’s Secret model, and is fine here as a French “struggling artist”) all make for a perfect storm, that I won’t give away here. The story gets tense real fast and Richard has to do some fast thinking and acting to keep his world from crumbling. The surprise for me is Brit Marlling as Gere’s daughter and heir apparent in the business.

The other break out performance is by Nate Parker,

as Gere’s unwilling clean-up guy, nowhere near as experienced as Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. Nate puts a face on the collateral damage done by deals gone bad, while Gere and his ilk just write another check. Compelling movie!

Sister

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

This film is about the relationship between a skeletal 12-year-old, Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein, in a great, charismatic yet naturalistic performance), a theif/hustler amid the rich in a French ski resort and his beautiful, sad, older sister, Louise (Léa Seydoux, in an equally compelling performance) who can’t hold a job any longer than she can hold a man or whatever money that falls in her hands (often from young Simon).  A secret is uncovered to the audience abruptly and is stunning when you think about it, making their story even more touching. There’s some funny scenes, some mostly off-screen violence, and lots of empathetic juxtaposition between two people struggling to get food to eat every day while surrounded by the well-to-do who don’t even notice them. The political aspects are powerful yet subtle, and this is not a movie that today’s teenagers will flock to, but I am confident that the readers of Billandbillmovies will appreciate this artful film.

Looper

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Looper is a smart sci-fi thriller that starts with the interesting premise of future mobsters  sending their murder victims back in time to get hit and then be disposed of. Sometimes the loop is closed by sending an old hit man to be hit by his younger self. Parts of this film are reminiscent of the Terminator and one character’s mother, played by Bill and Bill movie favorite Emily Blunt, is even named Sara.

Looper has some good plot twists, is well-written and deals with themes of loss, love, regret and redemption. All the main performances were good including Joseph Gordon-Levitt (despite some prosthetic on his face to make him look like the younger version of himself as played by Bruce Willis), Blunt, Willis, Jeff Daniels (very entertaining as a mob boss), and Pierce Gagno as a freaky kid.

Definitely go see it.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes