There are so many instances where people talk through a filter. An employee and a boss each have their own filter they must use when talking to each other. A teacher has a certain filter they need to use when talking to their students, just as a student has a filter they use when talking to their teacher. At least they did in my time, though based on what teachers have told me, students today use a filter with larger holes in it. The type of relationship where I feel there is no need for filters is the one between friends. With my friends and I there is no need to soften or temper our words to each other. I would not want it any other way. Our words travel on a slick smooth road that is void of any exits or potholes; a clear straight highway of thoughts and feelings. Fifteen years have gone by, letting their filters become less porous, as college friends reunite for the Christmas holiday at the home of Mia and Lance, played by Monica Calhoun (The Salon, Diary of a Single Mom-TV) and Morris Chestnut (The Call, Think Like a Man), in this funny movie. They soon discover the happy occasion may not soften the hard feelings and lies that were lying dormant inside of them. I did not know this comedic drama was a sequel at first, not recalling ever seeing the first one from 1999, The Best Man. Though the writers tried their best to make this a stand alone film, I felt I would have gotten more out of this movie if I had seen the first one. A few times I thought I was missing the joke or point being made. Putting that aside, I thought the story was predictable for the most part. With a majority of humor being handled by Terrence Howard (Prisoners, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) as Quentin, I thought the first half of the movie was okay. For the last half of the film, the story shifted where I found myself becoming more invested in the action. Besides the story involving Lance and Mia, I was interested in what was taking place with Robyn and Harper, played by Sanaa Lathan (Something New, The Family That Preys) and Taye Diggs (Equilibrium, Private Practice-TV). One of my pet peeves is a movie trailer that shows a scene that is not in the film and it happened with this movie’s trailers. Also, I felt the trailers showed too much humor with none of the dramatic scenes; this was poor marketing in my opinion. Good communication would have helped better advertise this movie; it would have also helped create stronger bonds between the friends in this film.
2 1/3 stars
The further technology advances the less personal it becomes is something everyone has heard. From what I have seen I believe it is true. For example, I have noticed a change in people’s reactions to amber alerts. Though everyone still acknowledges such news with sympathy, the feelings do not last long. Driving on the highways it is not uncommon to see an amber alert posted on the electronic signs hanging over the road. For myself, I will take note of the car’s description listed in the message but once I exit the highway the memory fades. With the immediate bombardment of news we get on a daily basis, the significance of each story bleeds into the next until all of it becomes this obscure sea of information that floats outside of us. That is not the case when it comes to this intense crime mystery movie; it brings the story down to a personal level. Hugh Jackman (X-Men franchise, The Prestige) in one of his best roles played Keller Dover, the father of a missing daughter. With his wife Grace, played by Maria Bello (Towelhead, Secret Window) suffering over the loss and Detective Loki’s, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac, End of Watch), perceived inability to arrest a suspect; Keller would take matters into his own hands, doing whatever it would take to find his daughter. I was totally taken by Hugh’s wide-ranging performance; he was incredible. It was funny, at first I did not understand Jake’s character because I thought the acting was odd from him. But then slowly I began to grasp what Jake was doing and found his interpretation to be quite powerful. It was a different type of character for him and I felt he nailed it. Viola Davis (Won’t Back Down, The Help) as Nancy Birch and Melissa Leo (Frozen River, The Fighter) as Holly Jones were outstanding; Viola does suffering better than almost any other actress I know. The story was not simple; in fact, I feel I need to see this film again to really make some connections I thought I was missing due to some twists. This was a tough, emotional, in your face movie filled with raw emotions, prepare yourself. It is one thing to hear or read about a crime; it is another to see it unfold in front of your eyes. There were several scenes of violence with blood.
3 1/2 stars
Due to the problems I had in high school, by the time I went to college I learned it was safer to not reveal much about myself. This meant being vague about my religion, my politics, even my taste in music; I did not want to take a chance in providing someone ammunition to pick on me. Going to an out of state college gave me the opportunity to be a different person. However, I had no idea how much energy it took to keep up a facade of total blankness; it made me tired. I can only imagine how much strength it takes for people in the witness protection program. In this thriller you will meet a group of individuals who have been undercover for 30 years. When a bank robbery went terribly wrong, members of the activist group behind the heist went into hiding. Thirty years later radical member Sharon Solarz, played by Susan Sarandon (Robot & Frank, Dead Man Walking), decided to turn herself in to the authorities. Shia LaBeaouf (Transformers franchise, Lawless) as investigative reporter Ben Shepard found it odd when civil rights lawyer Jim Grant, played by Robert Redford (The Sting, The Horse Whisperer), refused to take Sharon’s case. Not willing to take no for an answer, Ben tenaciously searched for answers from the evasive lawyer before the FBI removed any chance for Ben to break a great story. The cast was made up with Academy Award winners and nominees like Julie Christie (Away From Her, Don’t Look Now) as Mimi Lurie and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Liberal Arts) as Jed Lewis. Robert Redford was just okay as the director; but I found the idea of him being the father to eleven year old daughter Isabel, played by singing sensation Jackie Evancho, not believable. Though this movie was marketed as a thriller; I found for the most part scenes were somewhat tense, but those were few and far between. I was bored at times and it was a shame. The idea behind the story was great; sadly the execution of it was poor. This film needed the same type of passion that one can find in activists today.
2 1/4 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