LET ME SHARE WITH you several observations and I will let you be the judge. You are walking down the street and you see an elderly couple walking towards you, who are holding hands. While shopping at a store it is obvious the sales clerk helping you is wearing a toupee; it is easy to spot because it is almost black in color, but the real hair sticking out below is curly grey. At a wedding reception there is a guest who had several alcoholic drinks that caused them to be unsteady. The person kept knocking over glasses and centerpieces every time they stumbled into one of the tables that were around the ballroom. Hanging out with friends at a nightclub you spot a patron on the dance floor who is dancing wildly. Their movements are jerky and off the beat of the music blaring over the loudspeakers. FROM THE EXAMPLES I just wrote about, how did you feel about each one? What was your first thought? In my more judgmental days I would tell you except for the elderly couple I found all the other examples embarrassing. In my earlier years I was extremely opinionated; though today I still have strong opinions, but I just do not force them on other people. Seeing the salesman with the toupee would make me wonder what was wrong with the guy not to notice that the toupee doesn’t even come close to looking like his real remaining hair; why draw attention to the one thing that you are trying to cover? Regarding the dancing at the nightclub, I would question what was wrong with the dancer that they could not hear the beat. But as I told you I was a judgmental person, so I would make these types of opinions. Luckily I came to the realization that my opinions do not matter; it is not about me. If these individuals are enjoying themselves who am I to say something about them. If the toupee wearing salesman feels better wearing his hair piece so be it; it has nothing to do with me. With that being said I have to tell you I could not wrap my brain around why the actors chose to be part of this comedic, action film. HAVING SUCCESSFULLY SETTLED INTO his new identity managing a retirement community Duke, played by Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, Last Knights), enjoyed being the person in charge and the center of attention. His center was about to be challenged by a new resident who came with his own set of skills that did not go unnoticed. With Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, No Country for Old Men) as Leo, Rene Russo (The Thomas Crown Affair, Big Trouble) as Suzie, Glenne Headly (Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) as Margarite and Jane Seymour (Somewhere in Time, Live and Let Die) as Delilah; the cast was over qualified for the script. The story was not original which I normally could handle; however, the script was simplistic and not funny. These actors could have been fun to watch if they were provided with a better script. I was bored through most of the film and when I wasn’t I sat there wondering why the actors chose to be part of this picture. Tommy Lee was doing a character he had done before; Rene’s role was weak and Jane Seymour’s character was a stereotype that did not come with anything new. I will not say I was embarrassed for the cast; instead I felt sad that people would be spending money to see these actors in this film.
1 ½ stars
It started with a letter I read in a syndicated advice column. A person wrote in lamenting about the state of our education system that seems to be pushing students through who do not have simple basic skills. This person’s example was the checker at their grocery store who could not figure out what the cost was for an item that had a sale price of 4 for $1.00, but was ringing up at 44 cents each. When the shopper pointed it out, the checker had to ask a coworker who also could not figure out what to charge for each item. This shopper knew that these 2 had graduated with honors from high school and were college freshmen. They finally took out a calculator to get the correct answer of 25 cents per item. It is funny because I had a similar experience at the movie theater last week. My ticket cost $5.75 so I gave the cashier a $20 dollar bill and a single dollar. The person started to hand back the dollar to me but I told her I wanted even change. I could tell they had no idea what I wanted so I had to explain what change I wanted back. There used to be a time when older employees with a long job history were admired and respected for their knowledge and experience. These employees were invaluable to a company. From what I have seen and heard that is no longer the case. When a company is looking to cut costs the older employees can be targeted because the company may feel they can get someone young and right out of college to fill the position for half the price. This is why I thought the premise for the story in this comedy was a good one. SINCE retirement was not totally fulfilling for 70 year old Ben, played by Robert De Niro (Casino, Meet the Parents franchise), he decided to apply for the intern position at a hot new online fashion company. It was quickly apparent to him offices and their employees had changed when he saw the company’s president Jules, played by Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, Love & Other Drugs), riding around the office on a bicycle. I thought Robert was especially good in this role and was surprised at the chemistry he had with Anne. There were some scenes they shared that worked well, similar to the ones he shared with Rene Russo (Outbreak, Thor franchise) as Fiona. The issue I had with the script was the multiple offshoots to the main story. I felt some scenes were forced just to try and get a laugh; they were unnecessary to me. If the writers would have focused more on the company and its employees the movie would have been stronger in my opinion. On the plus side I appreciated the film showing the value of having an older more experienced employee.
2 1/3 stars
It was due to my youth and innocence that I did not realize what was really going on. The possibility of earning more than my weekly allowance spurred me to join my friends in selling products door to door. It was the summer before my 13th birthday and my training lasted as long as our van ride, that was taking us to a suburb far from the city. The crew leader who was a friend divided us into pairs; I was put with my best friend who had already been working for a couple of months. The owner of the company had explained to us that the products we were selling were made at a school for blind people. Generally the products consisted of household items such as dishrags, toilet brushes and oven mitts. Each item had a printed sticker attached that read, “Products of the Blind.” I had no idea the owner was buying the items from a discount store and placing the stickers on himself. It was my first job; I did not know better. Looking back now I can see telltale signs that something was not right about the owner. He always appeared disheveled with messy hair as if he had slept in his clothes and had not taken a bath. Sure I had seen some of the items at the store, but I assumed the manufacturers gave them to the school for a special price to let the residents attach the labels. Looking back I can say the owner was an unscrupulous piece of work. DESPERATE for any type of work, Los Angeles native Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code, Brokeback Mountain), found something enticing when he came upon a traffic accident. Freelance photographers were swarming around the accident victim like sharks as they kept snapping shots that a news agency would be willing to buy. A fast learner without a moral compass, Lou soon discovered a way to increase a photo’s selling price for a willing buyer. Jake was so creepy in this role; the weight loss he endured made his eyes bug out, adding a crazed look to his performance. He will probably earn an Oscar nomination for this role. From writer Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy, The Fall), this was Dan’s first attempt at directing and he created a tense crime thriller. With Rene Russo (Outbreak, The Thomas Crown Affair) as Nina Romina and Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Four Lions) playing Rick as part of the cast, they were equally outstanding with their acting. Also, the parallels to our current frenzy to witness immediate reality events did not go unnoticed by me. Despite a few implausible scenes, I found this dramatic movie to be a riveting intense experience that creeped me out. There were multiple scenes that had blood in them.
3 1/3 stars