Black or White

Imagine losing your seventeen year old daughter when she is giving birth and then losing your wife in a tragic traffic accident. All you have left is your granddaughter.
The extended family hasn’t really been part of your granddaughter’s life and definitely not her biological father, but now that your wife has died, the extended family wants to play a bigger role. They even want sole custody.
This is what the movie “Black or White” is about although during some parts of the movie it becomes more about “Black or White”.

The story is a bit disjointed. You have to piece it together bit by bit. The movie is not bad. At times it’s rather entertaining. The young lady (Jillian Estell) who portrays the granddaughter Eloise Anderson is cute and adorable. She plays well with Kevin Costner.

The paid critics were rather harsh about “Black or White”. I think it deserves a look.

This is a 3 Star Movie!!

A Most Violent Year

“A Most Violent Year” opened in limited release on New Year’s Eve. After a month it finally opens nationwide this weekend.

Set in 1981 New York, a year that has been historically categorized as the most violent year of the city, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) an immigrant and his family try to capitalize on the “American Dream”. Abel owns a thriving business, but the violence and corruption threaten him, his family and all that they have tried to build. Abel and his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) find themselves defending their business and their version of the “American Dream” to a New York Police Detective (David Oyelowo) who is charged with investigating Abel’s business. The story unfolds from there…

“A Most Violent Year” is an understated, straight forward, no nonsense, mildly intense dramatic film.

There are several good movies out right now. “A Most Violent Year” should be considered amongst them.

This is a 4 Star Movie!!


“Whiplash” is probably the best non-blockbuster movie you aren’t watching. You need to check this out, but you must be a friend of Jazz Music!!

“Whiplash” is one of the eight Best Picture Nominees for this year’s Oscars.

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a young drummer attending an east coast music conservatory. He is very talented and wants to go far. Andrew’s father’s (Reiser) failed writing career shadows him and he wants to get out from under that shadow.

Andrew desperately hungers to be among the great Jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker. Music Instructor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who is equally known for his talent as well as he terrifying teaching methods recognizes Andrew’s talent and tries in his own way to bring it out, but will dealing with Fletcher’s way of teaching cause Andrew to loose his mind first? The story unfolds from there…

The movie is awesome plain and simple. Maybe I am bias because I am a Jazz fan, but the movie is intense, brilliantly executed and well-acted. The music isn’t bad either.
J.K. Simmons’s role as Instructor Fletcher is a 360 degree difference from when he was Psychologist “Emil Skoda” in 46 episodes of the original Law & Order.

“Whiplash” is a must see!!

This is a 5 Star Movie!!

The Imitation Game

Nominated for Best Picture “The Imitation Game” is a very well executed movie.

Based on a true story, in 1952 the British Authorities entered the home of, celebrated professor Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) because of a reported burglary, but after their investigation they arrested Professor Turing on a charge of “Gross Indecency”. Back in those days homosexuality was against the law.

The authorities had no idea that they were arresting the man who along with his merry motley crew broke the code that would lead to stopping the German World War II Enigma machine.

“The Imitation Game” takes you through Professor Turing’s life from his school days to his working with Intelligence Agents to over throw the Enigma Machine.
Richard Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing is haunting. The movie could be boring, but it’s not. It’s very educational from the stand point of the machine that Alan Turing created, we know today as a computer.

“The Imitation Game” is worth the price of admission.

This is a 4 1/2 Star Movie!

The Boy Next Door

“The Boy Next Door” is “Been There, Done That, Seen it 20 Times before.”

Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a newly divorced high school literature teacher. When the boy next door (Noah) introduces and ingratiates himself into the lives of Claire and her son Kevin (Ian Nelson), Claire can’t help but find herself attracted to the very handsome young man. Noah is very attracted to Claire and decides to do something about it. Soon after things get out of hand and turn dangerous. The story unfolds from there…

“The Boy Next Door” lacks creativity. The movie is predictable and leaves little to the imagination. Some of the events that take place in the movie are just plain stupid. Think “Fatal Attraction meets High School Boy”.

This movie rates a big fat “0”. Don’t waste your time or money. The male viewer will find the sex scenes very interesting. Jennifer Lopez did her own scenes.

This movie does not rate any stars!

Black Hat

“Black Hat” is more of a “Black Eye”.

“Black Hat” is about Cyber Crime. For no apparent reason a remote nuclear attack on China is staged via a computer system. As it turns out it was staged so that all of the money that the Chinese Casinos are bringing in can be stolen. The Chinese Government reaches out to the United States for help. The person, Nick Hathaway (Hemsworth) most able to solve this crime is serving time in a U.S. Prison. The U.S. Justice Dept gets Hathaway out of prison so that he can help solve the case. The story unfolds from there…

The story on paper is very interesting, but on the big screen not so much. The problem is the stage is not set correctly, so you have to watch the entire movie to piece it together. There is no rhyme or reason. I was bored the first 90 minutes of the movie. 

Too much time is spent showing the viewing audience what the inside of a computer chip looks like way down in the depths, from the time the
“Enter” key is hit on the keyboard until it reaches it’s destination.

I expected better from a Michael Mann production. Movie “Heavy Weights” “Viola Davis” and “Chris Hemsworth” are not enough to give “Black Hat” high marks.

There are 3 other movies scheduled to open soon with the word “Black” in their title, let’s hope they fair better.

This is a 1 1/2 Star Movie!

American Sniper

FINALLY!! “American Sniper” opens wide! I have been waiting for this movie for many months. It does not disappoint!! “American Sniper” isn’t just about war; it’s about how war affects the loved ones who remain at home. Multiple tours can and do take their toll on a family.

Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle an American Sniper who was the deadliest Sniper in U.S. Military History. He served four tours with one goal in mind; “Protect” his brothers-in-arms. He does just that saving countless lives, but Kyle becomes a wanted man behind enemy lines with a price on his head. Insurgents would love nothing better than to take Chris Kyle out. Each time Chris returns home he finds it difficult to leave the war behind. The story unfolds from there…

You will be on the edge of your seat! The movie will hold your attention. It’s nerve racking intense, suspenseful and has plenty of action. It is a bit bloody.

This is probably Bradley Cooper’s best role. He has come a long way since starring as “Will Tippin” in the ABC hit “Alias”.

“American Sniper” is definitely worth the price of admission.

This is a 4 Star Movie!


I don’t give 5 stars to a movie lightly…That being said, “Selma” deserves all of the “Oscar” buzz, “Golden Globe” buzz and “Best Picture” buzz that it has been receiving.

Keeping in context the subject matter, “Selma” was brilliantly executed and deeply moving. The events of Selma and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Civil Rights crusade are given new light. The brutality portrayed in “Selma” will move you to tears. If you feel anything after seeing “Selma”, the movie will have done its job. David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Dr. King is superb.

The movie is quiet and understated, yet brilliant.

“Selma” is a must see!

This is a 5 Star Movie!!

Taken 3

I was mildly excited at the thought of another installment from the Taken series, but alas…this Trilogy has run a ground.

Watching “Taken 3” will make you long for the original installment “Taken”. There is no new ground here. Liam Neeson reprises his role as Bryan Mills the retired ex-covert operative with special skills. Bryan and his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) appear to be trying to reconcile, but when she is murdered and Bryan is framed for her murder, he then has to go on the run to elude the FBI, CIA and the Police while he tracks down the real killers and protect his daughter. The story unfolds from there…

The movie starts off with an unexplained murder. That murder is never really tied to anything in the movie. It just didn’t make sense. There are bright spots in the movie where Liam Neeson is in action kicking butt and involved in some crazy vehicle chases and Forest Whitaker adds some interesting chaos to the movie, but that’s about it. For the most part the dialog throughout the movie is meaningless.

“Taken 3” will take your time and money. I am afraid I have to say it’s the worst of the Trilogy. It’s best viewed on DVD, Cable or Blu-Ray.

This is a 1 Star Movie!