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Tower Heist Movie Review

America is currently faced with #Occupy Everywhere.  The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. “Tower Heist” is a movie hitting the box office with precision timing.  It’s basically the one percenters vs. the ninety-nine percenters. Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is a billionaire Hedge Fund Manager who lives in the Penthouse high above The Tower.  Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) manages the residence like a hotel.  He’s all about customer service. He and his staff are at their beckon call 24/7.

About a decade before, Josh asked Mr. Shaw for a favor, a business favor.  Representing Tower employees, Josh asked Shaw to invest their life savings.  As you’ve seen in the trailer, Shaw gets arrested & all the money is gone.  Infuriated, frustrated & cheated, Josh decides to take his team’s money back the swindler.  This sets the story into motion.

An unlikely team of bandits is assembled. They are, a down and out Wall Street investment broker, Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) a concierge with a very short attention span, Charlie (Ben Affleck) a bellhop with visions of grandieur, Enrique Dev’Reaux, (Michael Pena) who’s nicknamed The Puerto Rican-Mohican, a Jamaican maid with attitude & hormones (Gabourey Sidibe) & a small time street hustler, Slide (Eddie Murphy.)

Together, they’re after $20 million.  The build up was very good.  You could see things clicking & working.  I also liked Special Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni.)  She played a likable agent who sympathized with the fraud victims & clicked with Ben Stiller’s character.    It was good to see Eddie Murphy returning to familiar territory.  After all, he’s played a few of my all time favorite characters like Billy Ray Valentine: Capricorn in “Trading Places,” Reggie Hammond, “48 Hours” & of course, Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop.”

I’m sure Eddie’s early worked inspired director Brett Ratner.  It was vintage 80’s Eddie & that was good to see back on the big screen.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.  Everything with Tower Heist was working until the  Tower Heist itself.  On another note, last year, I was diggin’ “Iron Man 2” until the lame sequence when Jon Favreau was driving through the Monaco Grand Prix– in the wrong direction!

POSSIBLE SPOILER, BUT WHEN THE HECK, IT’S IN THE TRAILER.  The movie derails into the very same lameness when the caper resorts to driving a speeding truck through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade– in the wrong direction!  It turns into a slapstick vibe when marching band trombone players are jumping out of the way.  It’s pretty bad.

In closing, the first two-thirds of Tower Heist are enjoyable.  In my humble opinion, the heist could have been more clever, more daring & most of all more believable.  It’s OK if you’re in the mood, but certainly won’t be remembered as a great heist film.  If that’s what you’re into, rent the original or remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.”  It’s the very definition of a clever heist movie.

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In Time Movie Review

Justin Timberlake continues his non-stop acting assault.  Last year, he took on the part of real-life Tech Wiz, Sean Parker in “The Social Network,” this year the romantic comedy, “Friends with Benefits” & now the Sci-Fi Thriller, “In Time.” Set in the future, “In Time” is a simple story about the “Haves” & the “Have Nots.”

The currency isn’t money, it’s seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years, decades & tens of decades.  In this world, humans age until their full growth peak of 25 years old.  That’s when everyone stops aging.  The time display on your forearm allows just one more year of life.  One year, not a second more or less.

The way to stay alive in this game (of life) is obtain more time.  Beg, borrow, steal.  Most people are poor and only have one or two days worth of time.  You get up, work & you’re given a few precious hours, another day.   Just enough hours so you have to come back the next day, just in the nick of time.

Timberlake plays Will Salas, a guy in the ghetto who lives day to day.   He represents the masses.  In a twist of very good fate, Will finds himself with more time than he ever dreamed.  Imagine, you were walking down the street & you found a wheelbarrow filled with thousand dollars bills & it was all yours.  So now Will is upwardly mobile.  He was to mix it up with the ultra rich.  This is where society takes its time, because they have more than they could ever use.

It’s there where he meets Sylvia Weis, (Amanda Seyfried) a woman who comes from time. Her father, Philippe Weis (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser) owns & operates the largest Time Lending Company on the planet.  Long story/short, Will & Sylvia make a run for it.  I like the cops of this world: Time Keepers.  Cillian Murphy plays Raymond Leon, a time cop that’s been on the beat for well over 50 years.  Sylvia finally learns what life is like when you can only live it day to day.

The film is set and filmed in Los Angeles for a specific reason.  People in LA seem to be much more obsessed with youth & the idea of staying young.  Take note.  You won’t see any graffiti in the movie, because people in this world just don’t have time to waste on such nonsense.  I liked how people in the ghetto were always rushing.  No choice. If you only had 12 hours before you ‘Timed Out,’ you’d hustle, double-step  & eat your food on the run every single day.

At the end of the day, it’s a Robin Hood story of stealing time from the rich & giving it to the poor.  The filmmakers aren’t being coy.  This is social commentary.  Those on the political right will have a field day dissecting “In Time.”  It’s all about redistributing wealth.  Those on the top want to keep it all while those on the bottom are quite literally dying in the streets because they’re out of time.

“In Time” is rated PG-13

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Drive Movie Review

“Drive” is a movie with definite meat on its bones.   I can’t believe how many SPOILERS there are in various “Drive” trailers. Stay away from them if you don’t want to know too much.  Set in downtown Los Angeles, “Drive” seems like a movie catapulted out of the 1980’s.  There’s a minimalist vibe not unlike “The Terminator” from 1984.  Composer Cliff Martinez’ score was absolutely inspired by those hideous 80’s sounding synthesizers.   The musical effect worked perfectly with the tone of the film.

IMDB lists Ryan Gosling’s character’s name as simply, Driver.  This guy is a getaway driver, plain & simple. That’s what he does.  If you’re using him on a job, you’ve got 5 minutes. He doesn’t partake in the crime or carry a gun.  He just drives. His day job is a garage mechanic & also working part time as a balls-to-the-wall stunt driver in the movies.

This guy doesn’t live beyond his means.  He lives in a run down apartment complex.  His boss at the garage, Shannon (Bryan Cranston) is unsuccessful at enterprising, so he consorts with low level thugs, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) & Nino (Ron Perlman).  There latest venture involves Driver.  One of my favorite things about this film was Albert Brooks’ departure from most everything I’ve ever seen him do.  When you see, you will know.

“Drive” has garnered an “R” rating. It deserves the hard “R” because it goes flat out over the top in its violent sequences. Tough for a date movie.  I know how many women love seeing a clean-cut Ryan Gosling on the big screen.  Be prepared for blood. It’s there with plenty of pints being spilled.

At the end of the day, there’s a score that needs settling.  It’s burn their house down or die.  Simple, straight forward.

You care for the characters.  Driver’s neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) has a nice little boy.  They are the ones who need protection & you feel their peril every inch of the way.  What I will say about Gosling’s character, he’s not much of a talker, but he’s resilient.  Brooding, he’s an eye-for-an-eye type of guy. Don’t mess with him.  He’ll run over you, then slam the car in reverse & do it again. Why?  To finish the job.  Talk about the Michelin Man Massacre.

If you need to employ violence to get out of bad situation & you don’t mind blood, then ‘Drive’ is your movie!

Driver himself doesn’t like going to bad movies.  It pisses him off.  That’s why he’s got the Film Freak iPhone App.  It’s the movie app that saves you money on movies! Just search Film Freak. You’ll get the Film Freak Movie Talk Show Podcasts, Reviews & Tweets all sent to your iPhone or iPad.

When Driver gets followed, he’ll lose you.  Not so if you Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones

Leo, What Should I Go See? 8.12.11

Here are my thoughts & recommendations  on weekend’s new movie releases.

  • 30 Seconds or Less
  • Final Destination 5
  • The Help

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30 Minutes Or Less Movie Review

Jesse Eisenberg is Nick.   A guy who hates his job, his boss & probably his life.   What does he do for a living?  He delivers pizzas like a NASCAR Ninja in just 30 Minutes or Less.   Nick’s last delivery is gonna be a doozy.  Two second rate losers (Danny McBride & Nick Swardson) hatch a plan to make quick money.  Instead of robbing a bank themselves, they’ll strap a homemade bomb on a stranger & make him do it.

As you’ve seen in the trailer, once the bomb has been planted on Nick, he seeks help from his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari).  Armed with only knowledge of 80’s action flicks, these two idiots rob the local bank to the tune of 100,00 bucks.

Two familiar faces are scene stealers with limited screen time. First, the hitman (Michael Peña). Very funny.  Also, from TV’s “Rules of Engagement,” is Bianca Kajlich who plays a local stripper. While dancing on Danny McBride, Bianca goes full blown topless. No special digital effects or enhancements. Man, the one time I want 3D & it’s not even there.

The idea of these two numb nuts getting away with this high profile robbery in Grand Rapids, Michigan is certainly a stretch. You’ll just have to go with it.  It’s a straight up rated R stoner comedy.  If you dug “Pineapple Express,” this is your movie.

There’s nothing worse than having a bomb strapped to your chest.  Can you imagine!?!  On the other hand, there’s nothing better than the Film Freak iPhone – iPad App. It’s the movie app that saves you money on movies. Just search Film Freak

I’m not a credible bank robber, but life is fun. Follow me on Twitter @leoquinones

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