Pride means you have a respect for yourself, a sense of happiness when you know you have done something good. There is another form of pride known as false pride. I find this version to be showy or more of a facade. The term “keep up appearances” comes to mind. Some years ago I taught aerobics in a small aerobic studio. The space had this old dark carpeting for the fitness floor and I had to stand on a makeshift wooden stage that was no more than 6 feet wide. We were situated above a clothing store on a busy commercial street. It was my job to be welcoming and upbeat even if there was no hot water or air conditioning. I could deal with stuff like that; however, I had a hard time working for someone who claimed to be a fitness professional but would use illegal drugs in their office. It was such a contradiction; all of the profits were going to their drug habit. I needed the job so I kept quiet, only coming in to teach my classes then leave quickly. After a while the situation began to weigh me further down; it was hard to put on this false front of a gung-ho, cheerful instructor knowing that there may not be enough money to cover my paycheck. Luckily I was able to find another job and resigned from the place. At least I was able to do it, but what about those individuals who have no choice? THERE are no murderers in paradise; at least that was what people were led to believe during the 1950s in the Soviet Union. But after Leo Demidov, played by Tom Hardy (Inception, Lawless), had to read the death notice to his close friend about his son; Leo knew something was not right. This dramatic thriller had a stellar class that really made this picture. Along with Tom there was Noomi Rapace (The Drop, Prometheus) as Raisa Demidov, Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight franchise, Harry Potter franchise) as General Mikhail Nesterov and Joel Kinnaman (Run All Night, RoboCop) as Vasili. This film had an oppressive darkness hanging down on it thanks to the cinematography and sets. I enjoyed all of this so much which makes me sad to say the script was the weak link. The story was ponderous with a few slow passages. As I sat through this movie I felt like there were all these cool puzzle pieces but they were not all fitting together. It seemed to me that there were too many story lines which made this film longer than it needed to be. All I can say is this film had a good front but once you got into it you realized it was not as good as it looked. Brief scenes of violence and blood.
2 1/4 stars
It can be so hard to watch someone you care about do something that you feel is not in their best interests–or is just plain wrong. Short of restraining and locking them in their home, there is not a lot one can do to persuade them to at least rethink everything before acting upon it. A friend of mine had been in a loving relationship for a couple of years. Unfortunately it did not last and she was completely distraught over it. Within a short time she met someone new, dated briefly and before you knew it she was engaged to him. I was not only stunned with the suddenness; but from the things she told me, I could not understand why in the world she would even be with him. Get this; she was a late sleeper who loved to lounge in bed to mid-morning. She used to tell me how he would wake her up at 5 am because it was time to clean the house, according to him. I kid you not; I was flabbergasted and would always ask her why she did not tell him to go clean the house, just do not wake her up. Long story short, they stayed married for a few years until she could not stand it anymore and divorced him. SOMETHING did not seem right to cousins Bob and Marv, played by Tom Hardy (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Dark Knight Rises) and James Gandolfini (Enough Said, Killing Them Softly), when the tavern they worked at was held up and robbed. In their small, closely tight neighborhood where everyone knew each other, their employer was not someone you would want to get angry at you. This crime drama was James Gandolfini’s last movie and he left on a high note; it was a memorable and solid performance. As for Tom Hardy, I was blown away by his acting; he was amazing and deserves an Oscar nomination. Along with Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo franchise) as Nadia, all the acting melded beautifully into the tense well written story. Based on his short story “Animal Rescue,” Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Bone) wrote the screenplay for this film. There were some memorable scenes that were perfectly directed. I was especially impressed the way the actors only needed a gesture or look to convey the heaviness that was bearing down on them. It truly enhanced the viewing experience for me. I may not have known the characters in this movie, but even I could tell something was not right and wished I had a way to tell them. There were a few scenes that showed blood and violence.
3 1/2 stars
My revenge was fueled by all the past years’ wrongs. From the older neighbor boy who threw a rock at me to the former boss who enjoyed being mean. The anger I had inside made up what I refer to as my dark side. Members in my class cannot believe I had a dark side. I point out to them that I am a credit manager during the day. Also, I tell them I never forget a customer who promised me a check then did not send it. This is preferable than telling them some of the things I did in the past when my dark side was dominant. Like the time the mean boss was calling for help from a bathroom stall as I walked into the restroom. I turned right around, shut the lights off and closed the door behind me as I walked out. So you see I am familiar with revenge and maybe that is why I enjoyed this movie thriller. From the director of the original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie; Niels Arden Oplev directed this, his first English speaking film. Colin Farrell (Seven Psychopaths, Total Recall) played Victor, a rising criminal who reluctantly agreed to help Beatrice, played by Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), get revenge on the man who disfigured her face. There was a problem; Victor was in the middle of enacting revenge on someone else already. He was doing this while being a member of a gang led by Alphonse, played by Terrence Howard (Red Tails, The Brave One). The story was nutty, a little too crazy for me. But you know I did not really care because I enjoyed Colin and Noomi in their roles. There was graphic violence with blood, explosions and careening plot twists. Then right in the middle of it all you got a budding romance. Go figure; maybe it is because I know revenge, but I do enjoy a story where the underdog gets a fair chance to win one. Also, I prefer watching a movie about revenge than being that person who used to act out with the dark side years ago. Scenes of blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars