Tales From The Ipe!

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Category: Entertainment (page 1 of 37)

Joel’s review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

I was a little surprised to learn Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation came out two years ago. Wow, really? It’s taken me two years to get around to watch this movie? Color me surprisingly busy to think about stuff like this for a while, all of a sudden remember that I wanted to do something, then act surprised that it happened.

In case you were curious….

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Instead of Ethan Hunt being the only person disavowed and having to run around looking for a mysterious arms dealer, the entire team has been disavowed. Which I think happened at least twice with this series. Look, I gotta tell you — after all these years, these films are frankly getting a little repetitive. Ethan Hunt and/or the entire team is on the run after being betrayed, and the villain is an nefarious arms dealer.

The plot is okay. The action is okay. The acting is the usual. I don’t know, folks. It wasn’t the most exciting story, and it was really similar to the previous films. No big deal.

Movie_Mission_Impossible_Rogue_Nation (2015)

Joel’s review of La La Land (2016)

Namita and I attempted to see La La Land a month or two ago, but the kids were extra special ridiculous that afternoon so we had to cancel movie nights for everyone. “No movies for anybody!”

It took a few weeks later for us to forgive them, and we still wanted to La La Land, a 2016 musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. We found a day, theater, and a window of time where La La Land and the Lego Batman movie we’re playing around the same time. Game on!

The film is about an aspiring actress and a somewhat down-on-his-luck jazz musician who meet up via serendipity in Los Angeles, try not to fall in love (but do), and try to get their careers going and make their individual dreams come true. 

I know it win a number of industry awards, and was even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Award. I gotta say it was interesting, but I didn’t think it was anywhere close to being Best Picture worthy. The story also suffers from a number of plot holes which are necessary for the predictable story beats to occur. I don’t think the film is supposed to be all that realistic anyway. It’s a vehicle to tell a particular story featuring its cast, and to have its song and dance numbers.
Visually appealing (and the music is decent), but the story is meh.

La La Land (2016)

Joel’s review of Bad Moms (2016)

I wanted to like this movie.

It is not a good use of your time.

Bad Moms stars Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pickett Smith, and Annie Mumolo.

When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.

The writing isn’t very good.The characters aren’t remotely believable. I love movies that are well-written, raunchy, and/or funny. This film tried most for raunchy or “outrageous”, but it was meaningless. Mila Kunis plays Amy Mitchell, a mother who works really part-time as a sales rep at some imaginary “hip” coffee company in Illinois (what?), and is overstressed and overworked running around between work and family. Again, she works part-time. My wife works full-time, does most of the organizing of our life. She’s justified in being tired. Eventually, she flips out after a PTA meeting that outlined fascist rules for a bake sale. Is this a possibility? No. Amy decides she doesn’t care, and decides to be hands-off. Hahn and Bell are also mothers, and join in on this. They will eventually go up against Christina Applegate’s fascist PTA president.

I don’t say this often, but you can skip this film. I like the actresses in this cast, because they’re talented. The writers? Not so much. Nothing in this story made sense — it was all a construct to allow the writers to show some scenes, like going wild and crazy at a supermarket.

Bad Moms (2016)

Bad Moms (2016)

Joel’s review of Ghostbusters (2016)

Namita picked up Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters (2016) remake from our local library. The film was strangely controversial last year, as a number of people were up in arms about this film threatened their respective childhoods. Some people need to take a chill pill every once in a while. Hollywood remakes films all the time.

The film stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. The film’s plot is somewhat similar to the original 1984 film, except there’s no Gozer the Gozerian or ancient Sumerian deities. Here’s the summary I found on IMDB:

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

The Ghostbusters take up residence upstairs from a Chinese restaurant and go hunting for the source of recent hauntings. They do discover there is one individual involved who is summoning these ghosts. I could tell you more, but……. meh. You get the gist.

The film has its moments, and the actresses are great. There are cameos from the old Ghostbusters cast, and Chris Hemsworth is kinda funny as their idiot assistant Kevin. Unfortunately, the film’s story was a bit lacking, in my opinion.  It wasn’t engaging at all. It had some small moments, but the writing and story could have been much better.

I enjoyed the original 1984 film immensely, and I loved the Saturday morning cartoon also. I’d be happy to give these talented ladies another shot if the writers could give them a better plot.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Joel’s review of John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

I enjoyed the original John Wick film back in 2014. I didn’t know much about the film at all, but I was pleasantly by the film. A character played by Keanu Reeves, whom you felt genuine empathy for. Amazing action sequences. Good background soundtrack. What do you want in the sequel? More of the same please.

Sitting down to watch John Wick: Chapter 2 after it came out in February, I was mildly disappointed. Maybe I’m crazy, but there was no heart in this movie. Was there action? Yes…..  but this wasn’t about revenge or retribution or something else you could get behind. Without giving away too many spoilers, John agrees to perform a hit, and is then on the run due to the consequences. That sounds like a decent story, but after the umpteenth action sequence that was fairly repetitive of the last 14 action sequences, you get bored. Well, I got bored by this film.

Side note — let me tell you what also really bugged me about this film. I’m a New Yorker, and we kinda know our landmarks. I understand that the cinematographers are looking for the best shots and sites, and will dress up one place to look like another. No big deal. And the audience will never know the different. Fine, whatever. Do what you gotta do.

In the first film, we established that John lives in NJ — he has NJ plates. Early in this film, however, John walks from his house in NJ (long story), across the Brooklyn Bridge (?), and checks into the Continental hotel. Who would do that? That’s not how you would get there from NJ, and also, why not call a cab or take an Uber/Lyft?

Speaking of the Continental hotel (the one that that hosts the various assassins in NYC), the real location is really not a hotel. The building is downtown in the Financial District near Wall and Water St, and in the lobby, it’s a Japanese restaurant that sells somewhat overpriced sushi. But it’s a hotel in these films. Fine, whatever, who cares. Soon after John enters the hotel, he goes to the roof, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (normally located in Midtown) is next door. Hmm, that’s odd. I mean, it’s St. Patrick’s, and that’s a long way from downtown.

During a important fight scene, John is running through what is obviously Lincoln Center (up in the 60s), and heads down into a nearby subway station…. and pops into what is obviously the World Trade Center Oculus mall (again, way downtown.) There’s a shootout that continues onto the PATH train platforms, and continues onto a PATH train, which normally only go to NJ, but are now heading to Brooklyn for some reason. Now I can only assume we’ve entered into some alternate dimension.

Is this  a big deal? I suppose not, but man, I really found this all very annoying.

Anyway, I didn’t like this film as much as the first one. There’s not a lot of story, the action was repetitive very quickly, and overall meh.


John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

New addition to the Ipe video library – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Seasons 1 – 5

New addition to the Ipe video library – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Seasons 1 – 5. We enjoy Star Wars, and the Clone Wars was appointment television in our house. I’ve already started ripping these episodes to our Plex media server.

New addition to the Ipe video library – Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

New addition to the Ipe video library – Kubo and the Two Strings (2016). Lovely film we watched back in September, and much painstaking effort by Laika studios went into the animation.

Joel’s review of Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

My wife found the 2015 Sandra Bullock film Our Brand Is Crisis on HBO this week, so we watched it. Who doesn’t love Sandra Bullock?

The premise of the film is that in 2002, Bolivian politician Pedro Castillo hires an American political consulting firm to help him win the presidential election. The team recognizes that the candidate is not popular, so they reach out to Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock), a once well-known and talented campaign adviser to convince her to manage the campaign. Bodine has hit a rough patch, and is convinced to take the job when she learns her one-time nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) is managing the campaign for the lead candidate.

The film’s title refers to the political strategists, who are brought in to fix a political campaign. The film is loosely based on James Carville and his one-time team of political strategists who were brought in to do the same for the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. This film’s team of strategists are trying to get Pedro Castillo elected, even though he’s basically in last place. Also, he’s kind of a non-nice person, so there’s this element of “What are we doing?”

How’s the film? Meh. There were aspects of the film that were mildly interesting, but it wasn’t a great film. Sandra Bullock was good, but the story didn’t grab me at all. It was whatever.

Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

Joel’s review of Neerja (2016)

I read a Geekdad article a few days ago titled ‘Airlift’ and ‘Neerja’: A New Breed of Bollywood Film about two new historical Bollywood films that weren’t the typical song and dance musical.  One of them was Neerja, a based-on-true-events film currently available on Netflix for online streaming.  As

Neerja tells the real-life story of model and air-hostess Neerja Bhanot, whose efforts saved hundreds of lives when PanAm flight 73 was hijacked in Karachi, Pakistan in 1986. The story weaves between her doting family, flashbacks to the abusive marriage she escaped, and the events on the plane and in the airport. The story touches upon the sexist attitudes that still prevail in India, and celebrates this brave woman who defied them.

Actress Sonam Kapoor (daughter of Bollywood film legend Anil Kapoor) does a fantastic job as Neerja Banot. She did a great job portraying this brave, sympathetic, vivacious woman who stands up to the Abu Nidal hijackers. With the aforementioned flashbacks to her previous abusive marriage, you saw this woman as a survivor. And here she is in the middle of a life-or-death hostage situation, and you are hoping that she can survive it too, and get back home to her family.

Neerja (2016)

Neerja (2016)

Joel’s review of Woman in Gold (2015)

Home for a few days at the end of the year, my wife and I are watching some movies and “chillaxing.” Namita recorded Woman in Gold off of one of the cable movie channels (HBO, I think), and we sat down to watch it. The film stars Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, is based on a true story.

Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.

Helen Mirren portrays Maria Altmann, the woman who emigrated to the United States by fleeing her Austrian homeland during World War II, and leaving behind her beloved family and all possessions. After the death of her sister, Ms. Altmann becomes aware of the family artwork stolen by the Nazi’s during the invasion. This is not just any artwork, but multiple pieces from famed Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, including “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer”.  As Adele was Maria’s aunt, and the stunning piece has become “the Mona Lisa of Austria”, while hanging for decades in an Austrian gallery. Maria Altmann hires Reynold’s lawyer character (Randy Schoenberg) to help her fight to reclaim her family prized possession. They both go up against Austria seeking this small measure of restitution.

The film is interesting, as the film has flashbacks to Maria’s childhood and early life living in Austria including her wedding and early married life. The entire family (and the country) watch as the Third Reich marches closer to Austria, finally invades, and then witness firsthand the Austrian population turn against its Jewish citizens. I didn’t really care as much for the present-day portions, but found the flashbacks immensely interesting. You almost experience how their life changed, how the people around them changed, and the desperation to escape. Based on that, you understand why Maria Altmann was almost traumatized by the thought of stepping foot in Austria again, or why she wanted restitution. Why she wanted some small modicum of justice for the Austrian government aiding and abetting the Nazi regime in stealing her family’s possessions.

Woman in Gold (2015)

Woman in Gold (2015)

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