Posts tagged DVD

Prisoners - Movie

“Prisoners” Dark and Disturbing


“Dark and Disturbing”

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Prisoners is a disturbing movie in more ways than one.


The subject matter is disturbing, the action of the characters is disturbing, but most of all the ending is disturbing.

In fact, this movie is a prime example for one of those movies with alternate endings on the DVD version.

Hugh Jackman stars as Keller Dover, a survivalist who, when the movie opens, is out deer hunting with his teenage son.

On the way home, Keller tells his son the most important thing his own father ever taught him: “Be ready.”

Mario Bello plays Keller’s wife, they also have a daughter, Anna, who is six years old, and on Thanksgiving the whole family goes to dinner at the home of their friends and neighbors, Franklin and Nancy Birch, played by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis.

After dinner, Anna and her best friend, Joy Birch, go off playing, and the next thing the parents know is that they don’t know where their daughters are.

A frantic search throughout the house, outside, and back at the Dovers’ house leads to nothing, except that a suspicious RV that had been parked in the neighborhood is now gone, too.

When the police get involved, the investigation is led by Detective Loki, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who has solved every case he has ever been assigned.

The only suspect is the driver of that RV, Alex Jones, played by Paul Dano, who is mentally challenged and lives with his aunt, played by Melissa Leo, but no evidence is found in the RV or at the aunt’s house.

The hours that Anna and Joy are missing become days, and Keller is so desperate that he begins following Alex, the only suspect the police had in the case, and he does more than just follow Alex.

We see a lot of police work from Detective Loki, there is a lot of rain that makes the story and the events even darker, and a couple of suspicious characters lead to nothing.

In fact, at some point in the movie, you might come to the conclusion that the movie goes on too long and is far more dramatic than it need be.

But what an ending it has, and as I said, it could even have more than one ending.

Prisoners is disturbing from beginning to end.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

“Your Sister’s Sister” with The Lady or the Tiger? Ending


“The Lady or the Tiger? Ending”

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!


Your Sister’s Sister is a pleasant little independent film with a simple story, only three main characters, but a gimmicky ending reminiscent of the ending to a famous 1882 short story known as “The Lady or the Tiger?”

Of course, these days what does an ending matter when so many movies come out on DVD with alternate endings after a movie has a theatrical run with only one ending to it?

Now, the short story was written by Frank R. Stockton, and it was the most famous story that CENTURY MAGAZINE ever published. In it, a young man falls in love with the king’s daughter, and he is condemned by the king and forced to choose between two doors in a giant arena.

Behind one door is a beautiful maiden who would be given to him in marriage, and behind the other door is a ravenous tiger. The princess learns the secret of the doors and signals the young man to open the door on the right, but the story ends by asking Who comes out, the lady or the tiger?

I will explain how this non-ending is reminiscent of the ending to this movie at the end of the review.

The movie begins at a party and eulogy for Tom a year after Tom’s death. Jack, played by Mark Duplass, was Tom’s brother, and he says some nasty things about Tom.

Iris, played by Emily Blunt, had dated Tom, but she left him before Tom died. She also happens to be Jack’s best friend, but there is nothing romantic between them.

Iris goes up to Jack after his speech about Tom, and she says, “You just need some head space, okay?”

Iris offers to let Jack use her family’s vacation cabin on a nearby island for a week and says that he will have the greatest time doing nothing.

So, Jack bicycles to the ferry that takes him to the island, and he manages to find the cabin late at night.

However, a woman named Hannah, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, is staying in the cabin. She is Iris’s sister, and she is trying to get over her recent breakup with another woman after a seven-year relationship.

And then the next day Iris herself shows up unexpectedly and surprises them both.

Your Sister’s Sister ends after more story.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

The Five-Year Engagement

“The Five-Year Engagement” More Like the Five-Year Movie


“More Like the Five-Year Movie”

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

The Five-Year Engagement was made by the same people who made the 2008 Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and so it must be good, right?

Well, yes and no. Yes, it is good in some places, and no, it is not good in other places, mainly the scenes that go on for too long and the scenes that should have been cut in the first place.

Jason Segal and Emily Blunt star as Tom and Violet. They met a year ago at a New Year’s Eve party, which we keep seeing in flashbacks at various times throughout the movie.

They get engaged, and during a meeting with Tom’s relatives to plan the engagement party, one of the men comments that the men will all be wearing yarmulkes, of course. Violet says to Tom that he doesn’t have a yarmulke, and he replies that he does and, “It’s in my Jewish drawer.”

The story begins in San Francisco, and you can guess from the title that the engagement isn’t going to go smoothly, right?

Correct. Violet is working on her doctorate in psychology, and she gets accepted to a position at the University of Michigan, which will take two years to complete.

However, because Tom is a chef in a restaurant, he says that he can always find a job anywhere, and so they decide that Tom will move to Michigan with Violet, and they will postpone the wedding for two years.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, couldn’t they get married in San Francisco before moving to Michigan, or couldn’t they even get married in Michigan?

But if they did that, then the filmmakers would have to change the title of the movie, wouldn’t they?

Well, you can guess from the title that the two-year plan isn’t going to go smoothly, either, right? Violet’s work at the University of Michigan gets extended, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but at one point the situation gets so bad that it looks like there won’t be any wedding at all.

Now, you know how the DVD version of some movies contains deleted scenes? Maybe the DVD of this movie will thankfully be missing some scenes that should have been cut.

The Five-Year Engagement lives up to its reputation of being a comedy, but it is more like the five-year movie.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

Source Code - Movie

“Source Code” Expect a Tweak


“Expect a Tweak”

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Source Code - Movie PosterSOURCE CODE is a science-fiction, action-thriller version of the 1993 GROUNDHOG DAY, except each return to the past lasts only eight minutes apiece.

And yet it is still worth watching, especially for the work of star Jake Gyllenhaal and director Duncan Jones, who previously directed the excellent 2009 MOON.

However, you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief at least nine times, if my count of the trips back in time are accurate.

And we are told that these events are not time travel; they are time reassignment. Also, the program that is called “Source Code” and allows these events to take place is not designed to alter the past. It is designed to affect the future.

It all begins when Capt. Colter Stevens wakes up one morning on a commuter train to Chicago. A woman sitting across from him says, “I took your advice. It was good advice. Thank you.”

And yet Stevens doesn’t know where he is, what is happening, or who this woman is, whose name is Christina.

Eight minutes later a bomb on the train explodes and everyone on it is killed.

Then Stevens finds himself in a crashed helicopter in Afghanistan, and a woman is talking to him over a video screen. She is Capt. Goodwin, and she tells Stevens that he is part of a mission designed to prevent that bomb explosion.

Eight minutes before the explosion, Stevens’ mind can be inserted into the body of another man on that train, and his mission is to find the bomb, find the bomber, and report the results.

Nice work if he can do it, especially in only eight minutes, but each time he goes back, he knows a little bit more which will allow him to find the bomb, find the bomber, and complete the mission.

We learn that Stevens is a born hero and saving people is what he does best, but he is also told by Capt. Goodwin that he can’t save the people on the train, because they are already dead.

This causes conflict in Stevens, because he becomes more and more fond of Christina each time he meets her for the first time.

However, the ending is all wrong and expect some changes to it when the DVD comes out.

SOURCE CODE is entertaining, but expect a tweak.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

The Social Network Movie

“The Social Network” Are We Too Linked In?


“Are We Too Linked In?”

THE SOCIAL NETWORK is the story of the creation of and its aftermath, and if you don’t know what Facebook is, what planet have you been living on for the past six or seven years?

Although it isn’t a documentary, the film is based on the 2009 book by Ben Mezrich, THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES: THE FOUNDING OF FACEBOOK, A TALE OF SEX, MONEY, GENIUS, AND BETRAYAL, which pretty much describes the story, but even the book contains a lengthy disclaimer admitting it contains “fudged facts” for the benefit of a good story.

At any rate, David Fincher directed, Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay, and Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard drop-out who created the world’s most popular social-networking Internet Website and who has been called the world’s youngest billionaire.

And if we can believe the book, the movie, and many other corroborating accounts, the genesis for Facebook occurred in 2003 when Zuckerberg was a geeky sophomore and got dumped by his girlfriend.

What happened next in the life of this socially inept computer genius is the stuff of this marvelous film and the events that affected his career and now is a part of half-a-billion users worldwide.

The Social Network MovieImagine the box-office results if every Facebook user wants to see this film.

Stung by his girlfriend’s rejection, Zuckerberg goes back to his dorm room, blogs about the breakup, and then fueled by quite a few beers, hacks into the servers of the Harvard computer system, downloads photos of coeds, and then creates the Facemash domain, which asks visitors to identify which of two girls is “hotter.”

The response is so successful that it crashes the Website.

Enter the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler. They have had an idea for a Harvard social-network site called “The Harvard Connection,” and they approach Zuckerberg to build it for them. The rest, as they say, as does the subtitle of the source book, is “sex, money, genius, and betrayal.”

Zuckerberg’s best friend, initial backer, and original partner in his vision to expand a computer social network beyond Harvard is Eduardo Saverin, and the film consists of interlocking scenes of the two lawsuits against Zuckerberg and flashbacks to the events.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK brings to mind the question, “Are we too linked in to the Internet and modern technology?”

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

The Town Movie

“The Town” Not Pretty, but Good and Exciting


“Not Pretty, but Good and Exciting”

THE TOWN is the second film that Ben Affleck has directed, and he also stars in it along with Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, and Chris Cooper.

The story takes place in modern-day Charlestown, a square-mile rough neighborhood near Boston known for its criminals and unsolved murders, and sometimes the actors’ accents are so thick that it is difficult to understand what they are saying.

The film opens with a bank robbery, the four robbers all wearing skull masks, and they take the pretty bank manager hostage with them in their escape.

When they release Claire, the robbers take her driver’s license and tell her that if she talks to the FBI, they know where she lives and they will come to her home, rape her, and kill her.

Naturally, Claire has to talk to FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley, and while she is being questioned, she asks, “Should I have a lawyer here?”

Frawley tells Claire that anyone who lawyers up during questioning is usually guilty, and because Claire doesn’t want to be involved any more than she already is, she doesn’t tell Frawley one piece of information about the robbers that she observed.

The Town MovieMeanwhile, the leader of the robbers, Doug MacRay, follows Claire, meets her “accidentally,” they start talking, and he takes her out for a drink. She doesn’t know who Doug really is, they start dating, and at one point Claire tells Doug the information that she withheld from the FBI.

Claire tells Doug that on really sunny days, she always thinks of someone dying, because her younger brother died on such a day, which will play an important part in a later scene in the film.

Doug is planning another big robbery, but he tells his partner and childhood friend, Jim, and the rest of the team that it will be their last job, after which they will just hit bars.

This time the team all wear nun’s masks, and the getaway chase through the streets of Boston is exciting, especially when a bridge shows up.

Of course, whenever crime is involved, nothing ever goes on as planned.

THE TOWN is not pretty, but it sure is good, exciting entertainment, it’s dedicated to the good people of Charlestown, but made about the “bad” people, and I sure am glad it was.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

The American Movie

“The American” The Red Herring


“The Red Herring”

THE AMERICAN stars George Clooney as the title character in what is essentially a foreign film and not just because it leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Most of the film takes place in Italy, and because Clooney is one of the producers and also owns a home in Italy, cynics could say that Clooney made the film just so he would be able to sleep in his own villa every night.

Clooney plays Jack, although he sometimes goes by the name of Edward. The story opens in Sweden, and we see Jack and a beautiful woman out walking in the snow when suddenly they are shot at. Jack pulls out a pistol to the surprise of his companion and kills the man shooting at them.

Jack says to the woman, “Go to the house and call the police.”

What happens next is just the first of the many unanswered questions.

The American MovieThe next thing we know, Jack is in Italy, and he’s not wearing a beard anymore. He calls on a man who appears to be his handler and is told to leave town and to wait for a call from the man.

So, Jack drives to a small town and sets up shop, so to speak.

He tells a priest he meets that he is a photographer on a working vacation, but we never see him with any cameras. He also claims that he is not good with machines, but later he fixes the priest’s small truck for him when it won’t start.

Jack also exercises a lot and keeps looking out the window of his room with a pair of binoculars.

Then he meets a woman in a cafe by arrangement, and they have a very technical discussion, but there is also the suspicion that they are being watched.

Jack starts visiting a prostitute named Clara, and when he goes back and she isn’t working that night, he just leaves.

As you might have guessed by now, Jack could possibly be a hired assassin or he might not be. And if he is, you might have guessed who his next victim is going to be.

Unfortunately, we will never know, because the whole movie is one big buildup without any satisfactory payoff.

THE AMERICAN, in other words, is nothing more than one long, extended red herring.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

The Other Guys Movie

“The Other Guys” To Serve and Embarrass


“To Serve and Embarrass”

THE OTHER GUYS is a slapstick comedy that stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as the title characters, two New York City policemen who spend most of their time behind a desk back at their precinct filling out the paperwork for the cases that the two highest-profile policemen solve, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson as Detectives Highsmith and Danson.

Ferrell plays Allen Gamble, a forensics accountant for the department, and we eventually learn why he prefers working behind a desk instead of being out on the street, and Wahlberg plays Terry Hoitz, a hot-headed policeman who got demoted to a desk job after he accidentally shot Derek Jeter in the leg at a New York Yankees World Series game.

In other words, Allen and Terry are the policemen you always see in the background of the photos that are taken whenever Highsmith and Danson receive another award from the mayor.

The Other Guys MovieUnlike Allen, who is happy and content with his desk job, Terry is anxious for a chance to get back out on the streets, but he has been attending therapy sessions for six months and has never said a word in the group.

Terry has hidden talents, and after Allen observes him dancing in a studio and Terry explains why he can dance that well, Allen says, “You mean, you learned how to dance like that sarcastically?”

Terry knows that in order to become a good cop, you have to solve cases, and when something happens to Highsmith and Danson, Terry kidnaps Allen and forces him to drive them to the crime scene in Allen’s Prius.

The biggest case that Allen has ever worked before this one was when some scaffolding permits hadn’t been applied for, but now Allen and Terry find themselves involved in a case that consists of destruction of city buildings, robbery, murder, tax evasion, and a possible Ponzi scheme by a British financier.

Allen has a gift for being attractive to beautiful women, and Terry can’t figure out why, especially when he meets Allen’s wife, an emergency-room doctor played by Eva Mendes.

Oh, and Michael Keaton is in it, too, as the captain of the precinct, and everyone is funny.

THE OTHER GUYS takes the police motto of “To serve and protect” and turns it around to “To serve and embarrass.”

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

Dinner for Schmucks Movie

“Dinner for Schmucks” Dinner with Redemption


“Dinner with Redemption”

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS is a comedy that takes a long time getting to the laughs, and once it does, they are mean-spirited laughs and all at the expense of others.

Steve Carell plays Barry, a meek little man whose hobby is constructing elaborate dioramas that use dead mice dressed up as people in them.

Paul Rudd plays Tim, an analyst on the sixth floor of an investment firm who wants the office of a colleague who just got fired.

In other words, Tim wants a promotion to the top floor, and he gets an opportunity when he comes up with an idea to land a new client for their company who has $100 million to invest.

Dinner for Schmucks MovieSo, Tim’s boss invites Tim to a dinner party he hosts once a month called “Dinner for Winners,” and the next one is this Saturday. Each person brings a guest who has a skill or talent of some kind, everyone makes fun of them, the winner gets a trophy, and they all are released into the world no more the wiser.

Tim has doubts about this cruelty, and his girlfriend, Julie, doesn’t want him to attend, but then Tim meets Barry, who is a tornado of destruction and makes Tim’s personal life much worse.

Barry has an odd way of thinking, and as he tells Tim, “In the words of John Lennon, ‘You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not.’”

Tim can’t convince Barry that he is leaving off three words at the end, but no matter. Barry doesn’t listen well to others.

You can see the gags coming ahead of time, but you will still laugh, mostly in spite of yourself, and there are two subplots that add to the gags at the dinner party, one involving a woman who has been stalking Tim for three years and the other involving Julie’s relationship with a self-absorbed artist.

The movie wants us to feed sad and sorry for Barry, but we can’t. Also, you might be getting tired of Carell playing an idiot, but he does it so well, doesn’t he?

And as much as you might want to hate this movie for its premise, remember that it is based on a French film, the 1998 THE DINNER GAME.

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS to its credit, however, redeems itself at the end.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

Inception Movie

“Inception” Dreaming the Impossible Dream


“Dreaming the Impossible Dream”

INCEPTION is Christopher Nolen’s latest mind teaser, whose 2001 MEMENTO is still being talked about as a tour de force.

He also directed the two latest BATMAN films, but I wasn’t as impressed by them as I was by MEMENTO.

Leonardo DiCaprio leads a stellar cast in what is essentially just another heist story, but one with a twist: The crimes, if we can call them that, occur only in the victims’ dreams, and the loot is nothing but information.

In other words, it is corporate espionage at the subconscious level.

DiCaprio plays Cobb, and when the film opens, he is washed up on a beach, captured, and taken to a room where sits a very old man. One of the guards tells the old man, “He was delirious, but asked for you by name.”

Inception MovieThis is all just a teaser to the audience, because we won’t find out the meaning of this scene or who the old man is until the end of the film.

And in addition to switching around in time, the film switches between dreams and reality, between different levels of dreams, and between the dreams of different characters.

This is not your typical summer action movie, but it does contain plenty of action, confusing action at that and peppered with jump cuts between all the dreams and what little reality there is.

Cobb has a team of accomplices who help him, consisting of a second in command who is the technician that allows all the members to be dreaming in the same dream as their mark, an architect who designs and creates the fantasy world that the dream will exist in, a forger who is capable of being whatever new character the mark might insert in the dream, and a skilled chemist who supplies the sleep-inducing potions.

And remember that there can be dreams within dreams and even dreams within dreams within dreams.

Anyway, Cobb and his team are hired by a client not to extract information from a mark’s dream but to plant a notion that the mark will believe is his own when he awakes, which will make the client richer than he already is.

INCEPTION has another one of those ambiguous endings, and you might want to see it more than once to understand the film better, but not me.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”

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