by Alan Yudman

Shane Black owns the mystery/buddy/comedy genre. KISS KISS BANG BANG was a fantastic movie. THE NICE GUYS owes more than a nod of the cap that movie.

Think of both movies as a modern version of Raymond Chandler, but with more funny and blood. Los Angeles is a character in both films. KISS KISS it is modern L.A. In THE NICE GUYS, it is the 1970’s version filled with decay, disco and porn. The film begins with the death of porn star Misty Mountains whose car careens off a hillside road and through the kitchen of a home. We soon meet Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling). Crowe is a thug and enforcer who has been hired by an actress who wants him to “influence” a guy who has been stalking her. Unfortunately that guy isn’t a stalker. It’s Gosling’s private eye who has been hired to find her.

Gosling is a washed up cop who is hiding his sorrow over the loss of his wife in a fire by drinking everything in site. That’s complicated because he has a 13-year-old daughter (the fabulous Angourie Rice). He basically gets hired by the elderly and tries to milk his fee as much as he can. His daughter Holly is all that’s holding him together.

Crowe and Gosling meet when Crowe breaks his arm to warn him off the actress. But soon they both discover more is going on here. The conspiracy involves Detroit automakers, auteur porn directors and a lot of naked women and death.

The two detectives stumble across clues and in brief moments of clarity figure out what is going on and what they have to do.

THE NICE GUYS is wickedly funny and the chemistry and comic timing between Crowe and Gosling is shockingly great. The mystery is Chandler worthy, but never resolves itself in a satisfying way. There’s nothing wrong with that. As Jack Nicholson was told, “it’s Chinatown Jake”. In this case, it’s L.A. Jackson and Holland… it’s L.A. And all you can do is try to endure and come out with your heart intact. That message is too deep for this film. It’s not really about that. It’s about two hours of fabulous buddy cop mystery and humor. Shane Black needs to make more of these style movies. He’s brilliant at it.


by Alan Yudman

I think it was already predetermined that I would love MR. RIGHT. Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Tim Roth. Love all three, so how could it not be great.

Before checking in to see if it lived up to my expectations a bit about the, ya know, plot. Anna Kendrick is Martha who is relationship challenged. We see her getting for a sexy evening at her boyfriends place. One problem. He busts in with another girl and they are in full foreplay mode. That has Martha questioning her choices and seeks solace in a bottle. She runs into Sam Rockwell who has his own issues. He’s a hitman who has had a crisis of conscience. He no longer kills those he’s contracted to get rid of. He kills the people who hire him. That passes for his personal morality. Martha falls for Mr. Right without knowing much about him. Then she discovers his line of work. At first she wants nothing to do with him. But eventually she comes around. Mr. Right is being hunted by Tim Roth, who has been hired by some mobsters to kill him. Then there is another crew also trying to kill Rockwell.

Think of this movie in the same way you would think of GROSSE POINT BLANK. It’s violent and funny. The chemistry between Rockwell and Kendrick is electric and easy. He teaches her how to catch a knife. She winds up killing a couple of guys, and is very proud of herself.

There really is no traditional moral center to MR. RIGHT. That’s ok, because this is all about the funny and the quirky charm of Kendrick and Rockwell. Is it great? No. But it’s entertaining and I really liked it.


Fans of buddy action movies from a non PC world will totally love this movie. Gosling and Crowe have great chemistry as they butt heads and eventually join forces to find a missing girl in 1977 Los Angeles. I have always been a huge fan of Shane Black…the first Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang…those movies were a lot of fun. Add this one to the list. A mystery that keeps you guessing, tons of ‘R’ rated violence and humor, and hilarious turns from both leads. It’s funny without trying to be a comedy, action packed, and is easily one of my favorite films of this year.


-Stormy Curry
If anyone other than Sally Field played the lead in this sweet comedy drama, it would have been more like "Goodbye Doris". But this Oscar winner is just so good playing a lonely woman who has a lot more going on than meets the eye. Trying to figure out her life after the death of her mom, who she’s been caring for, Doris could have come off as a one dimensional walking punchline. But Field, along with a wonderful script from Michael Showalter, make us care about her…we’re not laughing at her, but the awkward situations she puts herself in. One of the year’s most pleasant surprises.



civil war poster 3

by Alan Yudman

Earlier this year, another superhero franchise that shall not be named tried to mine the conflict between heroes as a storyline. That did not go so well. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is a playbook on how to handle it correctly.

The basic story revolves around The Avengers. The countries of the world feel they are out of control and causing more destruction than lives saved. New York, Sokovia, and in this film, Nigeria. The United Nations wants to create a committee to supervise The Avengers activities. They are seen as loose cannons.

Tony Stark agrees. Matter of fact, half of the team agrees. The other half is with Captain America. He thinks any kind of outside control is bad. Cap wants to save everyone without political consideration. He fears that is where they are headed. That difference of opinion sets up the conflict and splits the team down the middle.

And in the middle of all this the whole team is battling someone who wants to awake a whole team of super soldiers who are even more dangerous than Bucky Barnes. And that is Captain America’s greatest strength and weakness. His devotion and blind loyalty to Bucky. He has an enormous blind spot because Bucky was and is his friend, and he feels responsible for Bucky becoming the Winter Soldier. Oh, and Cap has another moral dilemma. He knows what happened to Tony’s parents, yet has never shared that with him.

The conflict comes to several heads, including an epic battle between team Cap and team Iron Man. Several new players are called on to help. There is a cameo by Ant-Man. There is the introduction of Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man. And CIVIL WAR also introduces us to the Wakandan prince who is the Black Panther. The scene is well staged, well thought out and works on every possible level. But that is not the end of the movie and it is no where near the climax. I will leave that for you to discover.

The stakes are high, yet they do not feel at all false, contrived or forced. The Russo brothers do an excellent job balancing all of this and making it all work nearly seamlessly. Ok, I could not really find a flaw in anything. The introduction of Black Panther and Spider-Man are handled perfectly. In the case of Peter Parker we know his story, no need to rehash it again. And the origin story for Black Panther is touched on, but the full details are best left for his own movie.

The Captain America trilogy is the best thing Marvel has done in its Cinematic Universe. Each of the three movies are tight, focused and hugely entertaining. The Russo’s are responsible for Winter Soldier and Civil War. They are also taking over The Avengers. I believe those films are in great hands.


— by Jeff Schultz

This nasty, unpleasant, oversexed, absurdist allegory uses a deteriorating (to say the least) modernist high-rise apartment building as a metaphor for class warfare. The 1% live on the upper floors and (literally) look down on the 99-percent. As the “barbarians” rise up, civilization’s thin veneer is stripped away and everyone turns into the feral animals that deep down we all really are. Or so the movie would have us believe. As the Spirit of Capitalism, or Megalomania, or whatever, Jeremy Irons lives on the top floor, ultimately presiding over his own destruction. Tom Hiddleston, a doctor, finds himself caught in the middle. Think SNOWPIERCER meets THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER, and although it has its moments — including the best fistfighting beat-down since the elevator scene in DRIVE —it’s too long, with long stretches between the good parts. Looks great, though.