Jack Reacher

I have not been watching such thrillers in recent days, but I have read a number of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books and I enjoyed all of them. Thus, I decided to watch this movie to see if Hollywood could do a good job to show the complexity of the Jack Reacher character, and overcome the fact that Tom Cruise is short and Jack Reacher is 6' 5". I was pleasantly surprised because I enjoyed this movie. It stars Tom CruiseRosamund Pike, and Richard Jenkins.

Jack Reacher opens as a sniper is setting up in a car garage directly opposite a stadium in Pittsburg.  We see what the killer sees, and wince as the rifle scope glides left, right, and then left again, as that killer chooses, seemingly at random, who will die. Six shots ring out; five humans fall.

James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a retired Army sniper, is quickly arrested, but won't talk, except to scrawl three words on a sheet of paper: "Get Jack Reacher." As the detective in charge (David Oyelowo) and the district attorney (Jenkins) wonder aloud why Barr has asked for a former military policeman who has fallen off the grid, Reacher walks through the D.A.'s office door. 

It turns out that Reacher despises Barr, but he can't resist helping Barr's idealistic defense attorney, Helen Rodin (Pike). After retracing the killer's steps, Reacher begins having doubts about Barr's guilt, and once those five thugs come to beat him senseless, it's clear that there's a conspiracy afoot.

I recommend that you watch this movie if you want a well-acted and fast-paced thriller.


In the Realm of the Senses

In the Realm of the Senses has been on my Amazon Prime watchlist for months and I have not been in the mood to watch it. Last night, I finally decided it was time to watch this controversial Japanese movie that was banned for its overt sexual content when it was first released. Now that I have seen this movie, I have mixed feelings about this rather average movie with lots of graphic sex. So what it is about?

 In the Realm of the Senses, based on a true story, is a disturbing examination of sexual obsession that requires its lurid candidness to fully explore the subject. Also, for some this movie will appear as thinly-veiled attempt to dress up pornography in the guise of an art film. Which interpretation an individual viewer is likely to take depends as much on who they are as on what they see in the movie. It's safe to say that anyone offended by graphic sexual displays will not be impressed by In the Realm of the Senses.

The film centers of the relationship between a man, Kichi (Eiko Matsuda), and a prostitute, Sada (Tatsuya Fuji). What begins as a normal affair turns into something darker and more demanding. Sada tells Kichi to stop sleeping with his wife, or she'll kill him. As the days pass, the two begin to devote almost all their time together, until seemingly every waking hour is spent engaging in a variety of sexual acts whose nature grows progressively more dangerous.

Most Puritanical Americans will not like this film for its sexual content, but more open-minded individuals should decide for themselves if this terribly graphic movie is good or bad. 



Mostly Martha

I watched Mostly Martha two nights ago. I very much enjoyed this German movie about a chef, Martha, who was home within a kitchen, but struggled with life outside of the kitchen.  It stars Martina GedeckMaxime Foerste, and Sergio Castellitto.

When we first meet Martha (Gedeck), she's at the top of her game. Head chef at one of Hamburg's swankiest restaurants, she keeps her kitchen spotless, her staff on edge, and her life free of complications. But underneath, she's a mess. She sees a shrink, can't find a man, and has no appetite - for life, for love, or for food. 

Two arrivals throw her carefully ordered existence into turmoil. Firstly, she is forced to look after eight-year-old niece Lina (Maxime Foerste) when her sister is killed in a car accident. Then her boss employs a new sous-chef, the charming Italian Mario (Castellitto), who quickly turns her kitchen upside down. The conflict between Martha's rigidity and Mario's high spirits make for a colorful culture clash, though we know it won't be long before he breaks through her defences.

This is a good movie. I recommend that you see it.


On the Road

I decided to see this latest film version of John Kerouac's classic novel, On the Road, during my recent flight to Seattle. Before watching the movie I knew that nothing new could be brought to this story; thus, I was not expecting much. I just wanted to, again, go along and relive Sal and Dean's travels, adventures, and tribulations. As expected it was not a great movie. On the Road stars Sam RileyGarrett Hedlund, and Kristen Stewart.

Riley plays Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac), a young writer who falls under the spell of the wild and reckless Dean Moriarty. Dean is a genuine hipster who loves to party, smoke weed, and explore his sexual freedom. He has a girlfriend, Marylou (Stewart), whom he loves, or at least thinks he loves. The three hop in a car for a cross-country trip, with Dean acting as ringmaster and Sal documenting the entire escapade. Along the way, they meet a variety of colorful characters who expand their consciousness. But Sal eventually sees that, despite outward appearances, Dean is not the carefree rebel he presents himself as, and their friendship starts to come apart at the seams.

On the Road tries to capture the free-wheeling vibe of the time. A pot and booze-fueled road trip may very well become a big mental blur to its participants, but that doesn't mean the film has to be one too. There is no real plot here; On the Road is essentially just a series of haphazardly edited moments which never tie together into something meaningful. It doesn't feel like the trip has any real significance, despite Sal's constant, impassioned reportage of it. 


Secret (Bu Neng Shuo De. Mi Mi)

Now that I am back to my normal daily routine, each night I have to decide on what movie I will watch. Last night I made another good selection, Secret, is a beautiful, musical, fantasy romance movie. Secret is the first film of Jay Chou who wrote, directs, and is the star of Secret. I am will not be able to say too much about Secret or it will spoil the movie, but I want to say that you will do lots of thinking about the entire movie, especially the ending.

Jay (Chou) and Rain (Kwai Lunmei) are the two principals characters. Rain is a mysterious girl in the same piano department with Jay. She has innocent looks that could make many guys remind of their first love. Kwai Lunmei played the role of the girl, which I think is the most difficult role to express the character's complicated emotion without a flaw. Plus, the quite cheerful supporting actors add zest to the movie.

The story takes place at an arts high school in Taiwan. One day, Jay, who has just transferred to this school, follows an unknown tune from the old piano practice room. He tracks down a girl, Rain, who is playing the piano there. Almost immediately, we see the chemistry that starts to develop between them. However, she sometimes disappears, saying 'It's a secret.'  I will say no more.

This is a movie that I think you should see.




I was pleasantly surprised when I watched Oblivion as I was flying at 35,000 ft above the southwest heading to Las Vegas where I caught my flight to Seattle. I am so tired of modern sci-fi movies because they are the same as those in the past with added spectacular computer graphics. Oblivion is a really good film with really decent acting. It stars  Tom CruiseMorgan Freeman, and Andrea Riseborough. So what is the story?

In Oblivion we are taken to 2077 where an alien race, known as The Scavengers, have traveled across space, destroyed the moon and attacked Earth. The humans won the ensuing war, but the cost was so great that the planet was left all-but-uninhabitable, with survivors all being sent to live on Saturn’s moon Titan.

The journey across the solar system is powered by huge generators, sucking up energy from Earth’s oceans. They’re protected from the Scavengers by dozens of drones and a team of two, Jack (Cruise) and Victoria (Riseborough) are coming to the end of their stint down on Earth to keep an eye on the drones and fix them when they break.

But when a spacecraft crashes down in a nearby location, specified by a transmission he believes came from the Scavengers, Jack starts to question everything around him, why he’s there and who he’s working for.

I think this a good movie which I highly recommend. You will have many questions after watching this one.


Wild Orchid

Again I went searching through HBOGo's list of movies and I came up with Wild Orchid staring Mickey RourkeJacqueline Bisset, and Carré Otis. I have always like Mickey Rourke and Jacqueline Bisset; thus I watched this movie that was released in 1989. What I saw was a strange, erotic movie that pretty much is pointless. Nonetheless, I thought it was a beautiful film and enjoyed watching it.

Wild Orchid tells the story of an inexperienced young woman, Emily (Otis), who is hired as an international lawyer, leaves on the next flight for Rio de Janeiro along with senior lawyer played by Bisset (Claudia), and there meets James, Mickey Rourke. They become locked in a contest of psychological control. By the end of the film, Emily will have been mentally savaged and physically ravished by James and others, at first against her will.

With the storyline being ultimately pointless and less than thrilling it means that Wild Orchid works on an erotic level. And that erotic level is basically Emily being shown the other side to Rio where she sees people having sex on a construction site, masquerade parties where it's all about sex and of course eventually ending up having sex with James which gives us the notorious realistic sex scene between James and Emily. Now all these sex scenes, and there are many, have imaginative use of lighting, slow motion, and cascading water which makes them seem artistic.

I only recommend this film who is not upset with sex and eroticism in a movie.


The Words

Typically, I say "last night" I saw thus and so and describe what I saw, but tonight I am writing my review just after viewing the movie because I am off to Seattle in the morning. Tonight I saw a very good movie entitled The Words. It stars  Dennis QuaidBradley CooperZoe Saldana, and the most excellent, Jeremy Irons

The film's structure is interesting in that there is a story within a story and yet another story within. The film begins in the present with the acclaim of lauded author Clay Hammond (Quaid), who is reading excerpts of his latest book The Words to a receptive audience.

We are then taken into the world of Hammond's fictional character, a struggling writer named Rory (Cooper) who is eager to make his mark. His wife Dora (Saldana) believes in him even though Rory is infected by self-doubt. It is on their honeymoon when Dora buys Rory an old briefcase, that fate plays its hand. When Rory finds the anonymous manuscript hidden in the briefcase, he devours the words of the story, wishing that he had written them himself. It starts innocently enough--he wants his fingers to feel the impact of the words as he retypes them.... The essence of the story, set in war-time Paris resonates to such an extent, he accepts a deal with the devil - and claims it as his own work.

I will say no more other than you should see this extremely well done movie.



After watching a couple of average to mediocre movies over the past few days I was looking for a really good movie and I found one, Oasis. Actually, Oasis is one of the best movies that I have seen in awhile, and is definitely best Korean movie that I have ever seen. Oasis is fabulous in almost every aspect: story, acting, production, and filming. As a result it won 13 awards and has one of highest IMDb ratings I have seen. Oasis stars Kyung-gu SolSo-ri Moon, and Nae-sang Ahn, and was written and directed by Chang-dong Lee. 

As the film opens, Jong-du (Sol Kyung-gu) has just been released from prison and is freezing in his short sleeve shirt in the middle of winter. Jong-du is a sociopath who flaunts society's rules, unaware of or unconcerned with the consequences of his actions. Unable to hold a job and always on the edge, he has been in jail three times: for attempted rape, causing an accident while drunk (he took the rap for his elder brother), and armed robbery. On the spur of the moment, he decides to visit the family of the man killed by his brother and apologize. When he arrives, he finds a husband and wife moving out of their apartment, leaving the husband's seriously disabled sister, Han Gong-ju (Moon So-ri) for the neighbors to look after.

Jong-du is attracted to the disabled woman with cerebal palsy who seems barely in control of her own body. He returns for another visit but it sadly ends up in a disturbing sequence that is very difficult to watch. Surprisingly, Gong-ju invites him back once more and the two slowly begin a friendship based on their mutual feelings of isolation. He provides her with the closeness she desperately needs and she finds someone to care for, maybe for the first time in her life. As their relationship becomes known, both families are scandalized and, aided by the prejudices of society, transform the innocence of their love into something sick and twisted. 

Oasis is a literary film. It is great to watch movies with imaginary scenes dreamed by Gong-ju. These scenes are sentimental, but they are incredibly beautiful and delicate (pigeons and butterflies flying in her room, for example). And the scene where Gong-ju sings a song to another protagonist Jong-du must be one of the most beautiful scenes of "expressing love" ever depicted by a film. Thus, I highly recommend that anyone see Oasis.


About Fifty

Last night I started a serious movie, but I was not in the mood. I wanted to watch something light and mildly comedic. I selected About Fifty to watch. About Fifty is a light comedy, but not a very good movie. It stars Drew Pillsbury, and Martin Grey, two actors that were new to me. 

In an effort to distract his miserable, just-separated buddy Adam (Grey), ladies’ man Jon (Pillsbury) arranges a trip to the Palm Springs for some golf therapy. Socially awkward Adam reluctantly accompanies his cool, confident buddy on the drive to Palm Springs.

Along the way, the guys bond, bicker, and encounter several women including Peggy (Kathleen Noone), a frighteningly horny sexagenarian; Alix (Michaela McManus), a gorgeous coquette who’s much too young for Jon; and Kate (Wendie Malick), who’s smart and funny — and happens to be Alix’s mom.

When Alix, hoping to set up Kate and Adam, arranges a dinner party, a memorable, awkwardly funny evening ensues. Cautious and skeptical, Kate and Adam don’t immediately click, but beneath their brittle exchange it’s clear they yearn to connect.

While this movie is somewhat like the really excellent, Sideways, it is not. I do not recommend this movie.