Richard Jewell

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Richard Jewell  (B).  This is a solid, interesting little movie about a real-life event that I only dimly remember.  A nail-bomb exploded in downtown Atlanta while that city was hosting the 1996 Olympics, killing one person and injuring over 100 (per wikipedia).  According to the movie, the federal criminal investigation turned up no real leads, and the FBI decided to focus on Richard Jewell, the security guard who discovered the bomb before it exploded and seemingly saved lots of lives by alerting law enforcement and helping evacuate the area.  (The actual bomber was identified and apprehended only years later.)  Director Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys) portrays Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser, I, Tonya) as a real odd duck—hugely overweight, socially inept, living with his mother (Kathy Bates, Midnight in Paris), and yearning to be a real policeman.  Olivia Wilde (Drinking Buddies) is an unscrupulous reporter dying for a scoop after the explosion, and Jon Hamm (Bridesmaids) is the integrity-challenged FBI agent who tips her off that Jewell is a person of interest.  When she breaks the story, Jewell goes from hero to presumed villain in no time flat, and he turns to the only lawyer he knows, a solo practitioner played by Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back), to help him fight back.  Hauser and Rockwell turn in fine performances, and the movie vividly demonstrates how the combined power of the government and the media can unjustly destroy an ordinary guy’s life and reputation (and really upset his mama).

Sully

Mom Under Cover is back in action!

Sully  (A).

Tom Hanks embodies Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in much the way he became Walt Disney.  Hanks and Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) as co-pilot Skyles are good partners in this movie.  Eastwood does not develop any of the other characters and did not use Laura Linney’s talent–as Sully’s wife, she is seen mostly tearful and on the phone.  Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), as one of the NTSB investigators, is also pretty one dimensional.  The movie tells a story we know and still manages to create drama and deliver a hero.  Be sure to stay for the credits (surely this goes without saying).

MST3K: Volume XXV

DVD review from The Movie Snob.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXV.

Robot Holocaust (B).  Even though it was an episode from the first season of MST, which was a bit spotty, I enjoyed this one.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I would have thought this movie was funny even without any riffing at all.  It’s an 80s-era sci-fi movie that’s sort of a mash-up of Star Wars and Mad Max, and it is hilariously bad.  The budget must have been nonexistent.  Some highlights are some monstrous “sewer worms” that are obviously nothing more than sock puppets, and the monstrous spider of which we are allowed to see only one leg.  Also fabulous is the female henchman of “the Dark One.”  She’s kind of pretty, but she can’t act to save her life, and she adopted (or actually had) a bizarre accent that sounded like a speech impediment.  Well worth watching.

Kitten with a Whip (B).  This is a pretty entertaining episode.  The movie being riffed is a 1964 flick starring Ann-Margret (Viva Las Vegas) as a troubled juvenile delinquent and John Forsythe (TV’s Dynasty) as the unlucky fellow whose house she decides to hide out in after escaping from juvie.  Ms. Margret overacts terribly, but she is nicely counterbalanced by Forsythe’s remarkably bland performance.  Definitely worth seeing.

Revenge of the Creature (B+).  This sequel to The Creature From the Black Lagoon isn’t all that terrible—it’s just kind of dull.  But the riffing is quite good, and occasionally hilarious.  Watch closely, and you’ll see a very young Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven) in an uncredited role.  (Actually, the MST guys point him out, so I guess you don’t have to watch all that closely.)  The disc contains a few extras, including a reasonably interesting documentary short about director Jack Arnold, who directed several other movies of greater note, including It Came From Outer Space, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

Operation Double 007  (C+).  That’s right, this 1967 movie is called Operation Double 007 in the credits, but for some reason it’s labeled Operation Kid Brother on the DVD box.  It’s a shameless rip-off of James Bond movies, right down to starring Sean Connery’s younger brother Neal as a spy.  Well, he’s not really a spy; he’s a plastic surgeon and hypnotist who gets recruited into being a spy.  It also features some of the minor players from the Bond movies, including Miss Moneypenny herself, Lois Maxwell (Moonraker).  The riffing is decent, but this episode is the weak link in this collection.  An introduction by Joel Hodgson doesn’t really add anything either.

American Sniper – a second opinion

Mom Under Cover reports in.

American Sniper–A

I saw this over Christmas break and thought it was okay.  However, I do keep thinking about it (perhaps I’m being taken in by all the Oscar buzz?) and I think it is better than okay.  Bradley Cooper completely carried the show.  He transformed himself into a reasonable facsimile of the real Chris Kyle.  The movie is certainly violent but not gratuitously so.  Without mentioning PTSD, director Clint Eastwood paints the picture well of the difficulty soldiers have in leaving the wartime reflexes on the battlefield and participating in life at home.  You will want to have seen this before the Academy Awards and my money says it will take some of the Oscar gold.

American Sniper

A new review from The Movie Snob.

American Sniper  (B+).  If you liked The Hurt Locker, then I’ve got a movie for you.  Clint Eastwood (Letters From Iwo Jima) directs this biopic about Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who served four tours of duty in Iraq and became the deadliest sniper in U.S. Navy history.  It is a solid piece of film-making.  Bradley Cooper (Limitless) bulks up to roughly the size of a Sherman tank for the lead role, and he delivers a fine performance.  Sienna Miller (Interview) doesn’t have as much to do as Kyle’s long-suffering wife, but she’s good in the role.  The scenes featuring Kyle in action in war-torn Iraq, of course, are the highlights, and the last firefight between Kyle’s little squad and the enemy forces zeroing in on them is a real nail-biter.  If you like war movies, you don’t want to miss this one.

Jersey Boys

The Movie Snob takes in a musical.

Jersey Boys (A-). Critical reactions to this new film by director Client Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima) have been mixed, but I am not ashamed to say that I loved it. (So did the rest of the theater, which erupted in applause at the end.) Based on a Broadway musical I have never seen, this is a biopic about the pop music group Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The story arc is not too different from that of another favorite movie of mine, That Thing You Do! Some young guys are hanging out together, trying to make a go of it as musicians but working other jobs on the side. A new guy comes on board (not Frankie Valli—keyboardist and songwriter Bob Guardio), and after paying their dues for a while the boys finally make it big. To love the movie as much as I did, you probably need to love the music of The Four Seasons too, since there is quite a lot of it in the movie. The focus is tightly on the band’s triumphs and troubles; we see very little of Frankie’s home life and none of anyone else’s. But, bottom line, I thought it was well made and interesting throughout. Virtually all the actors were unknown to me, aside from Christopher Walken (Hairspray) as a fairly unthreatening mobster who takes Frankie under his wing. Give it a try—and prepare to be humming Four Seasons melodies for the next couple of days.

Trouble With the Curve – a second opinion

A second opinion, from Motor City Reviewer.

Trouble with the Curve — A nice movie, but not one anybody should rush out to see.  The premise is an aging baseball scout (Eastwood) is reunited with his somewhat estranged and emotionally unavailable daughter (a hard charging, big law associate – Amy Adams), and Justin Timberlake plays the love interest (someone Eastwood once scouted who hurt his arm and is now out of baseball).  Some mildly amusing moments.  Eastwood, Adams and Timberlake have good chemistry.  It is a little too formulaic, a little too predictable.  If you are paying attention, you should be able to guess the ending a third of the way into the movie.