Monthly Archives: January 2016

Dirty Grandpa

Movie:  Dirty Grandpa

Rating:  2 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is a buttoned-down young corporate lawyer about to settle down and marry Meredith (Julianne Hough), the daughter of his firm’s senior partner in just a few days.  But his grandmother passes away, and at the funeral he is practically hijacked by his grandpa Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) to drive him to Florida for some golf and a chance to get away from the house while he grieves.

So off Jason and his grandpa  go in a pink Mini Cooper belonging to Meredith, and soon Jason discovers that grandpa is diverting them to Daytona Beach, where it just happens to be Spring Break.  Along the way to the beach they encounter two young women that will change their lives, the sexy and wanton Lenore (Aubrey Plaza), and the lovely Shadia (Zoey Deutch).  Also crossing paths with the Kelly men with scary frequency is Tan Pam (Jason Mantzoukas), who seems to have free rein in Daytona Beach to sell a large variety of controlled substances.  Before we know it, Jason and grandpa are involved in escapades too raunchy to detail here, which is where the title of the film comes from.  Then Jason finds he is running out of time to get home to marry Meredith, who is planning the biggest social wedding of the year in Atlanta.

Yes, I was forced to give this film a mediocre rating due to a very thin and predictable plot.  Zac Efron seems incapable of making a movie without at the very least removing his shirt, and in this flick does considerably more.  But this reviewer has to admit that he laughed at quite a bit of the high jinks in this movie.  It’s what’s known as a guilty pleasure.  You know it ain’t a good movie, but you’ll probably have fun anyway.  Besides, Robert De Niro is worth seeing in any film.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Jason – “Being a corporate lawyer has its upsides.”  Grandpa – “I’d rather let Queen Latifah take a shit in my mouth from a hot air balloon!”

Grandpa – “I’ve got the bigger three wood.”  Lenore – “Great!  Maybe you can use it to hit your balls right into my vagina.”

Grandpa to Jason – “Jeez, it sounds like you’re marrying your parole officer.”

Tan Pam – “You have taken an amount that will probably kill you in about 30 minutes.”

Grandpa – “Having sex with that girl is my last stand.”

Tan Pam – “It is so easy selling kids drugs from an ice cream truck.  It’s crazy!”

“De Oppresso Liber.  The motto of the Green Berets.”

“You’re just a dirty old grandpa, and I’m just a girl from New York City that likes to f*ck old people.” 

 

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Movie:  13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Benghazi, and Libya in general, are pretty much of a pesthole in Northern Africa.  Nevertheless, when most other western nations pulled their diplomats out of the country, the United States sent in ambassador Chris Stevens (Matt Letscher) to set up a small diplomatic station in a very lavish compound left over from the Gaddafi  regime’s glory days.  Ambassador Stevens was a veteran career diplomat, and sincerely intended to find ways to mend fences with whatever remained in Libya of a governing body, and try to create the beginnings of a democratic government.  For protection, Ambassador Stevens had two armed guards for the station.

Meanwhile, just a mile down the road as the crow flies, the CIA had their own super secret compound.  How secret was it?  Not even the US military was aware of their existence in Libya.  In addition to about 30 CIA personnel led by “Bob” the CIA Station Chief (David Costable) doing secret spy stuff and watching for weapons, there were 6 contractor employees who were former US special forces types who were armed to the teeth.  In a hostile environment like Benghazi, best to be prepared.   Just picking up newcomer Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski) from the airport, Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale) and Da Silva had to brandish weapons to force their way through a roadblock.  Who were the armed men?  Impossible to tell in Benghazi, the situation was just too fluid and complicated.

Then in 2012 the anniversary of 9/11 rolled around, and the US diplomatic mission was in trouble, serious trouble.  And the only help in-country was the half dozen contractor warriors down the road in the CIA compound….

This is quite a good film, based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff.  It is supposed to be a relatively faithful account of what transpired on that fateful day in 2012.  There is plenty of action, and the second half of the movie has a frenetic pace that keeps you glued to the screen.  If all you have heard about Benghazi is the GOP blowhards who keep holding investigations, you would do well to see this movie.  It is an eye-opener.

Dialogue Nuggets:   “Payback is a bitch, and a stripper named Karma.”

Da Sila – “We got air support?”  Woods – “We don’t have any f*cking support!”

Desk Jockey – “Truth is, there’s no threat here.  We won the war for these people.”

Ambassador’s Security Guy – “This isn’t an embassy.  It’s a temporary diplomatic outpost.  I guess normal security measures don’t apply.”

Contractor Warrior – “State’s under attack.  Let’s go!”

Contractor Warrior –  “Listen up.  None of you have to go.  But we are the only help they have.”

CIA Chief “Bob”:  “You are not the first responders!  You are the last resort.  You wait!”

Contractor Warrior to local military – “You called the attackers?  How the f*ck do you have their phone number!”

Contractor Warrior to CIA Chief – “Tell Africa you’re calling from that classified base that they didn’t know existed one hour ago!”

CIA Employee Sona Jillani (Alexia Barler) to US Base – “My authority?  If you don’t send help Americans are going to die, including the one you are talking to right now.”

Huh?  What The….:  Here’s the deal.  Forget the political crap you’ve heard at Congressional hearings, especially the Republicans trying to make political hay out of a tragedy.  The guys who really dropped the ball are the CIA and the Pentagon.  What could the CIA be thinking to set up shop in a hostile country and not want their own military to know about it!  Then letting Ambassador Stevens in-country with a two man security detail was ludicrous.  As for the Pentagon, they are all about contingency plans for any scenario.  But when the shit hit the fan in Libya, they were suddenly spit-balling about who could respond, and calls went out to American forces in Aviano Italy (1044 miles away), and Croatia (972 miles away).  You would have thought something would have been ready to go in Northern Africa, since operations against terrorists are the main reason we have a Major Command located in Africa for crying out loud!  Fifteen minutes after getting a call for help from Benghazi, special forces should have been loading onto choppers to kick ass.

 

Creed

Movie:  Creed

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   We all remember the two epic boxing slugfests between Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa, and Apollo Creed.  Actually there was a third private boxing match; you’ll hear the untold result of that in this story.  In present times, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of Apollo Creed, but that fact has been kept on the down low.  Adonis has grown up as a troubled young man, quick to let his temper get the better of him, and does time in a juvenile facility.  Adonis gets his life turned around with the help of Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), and seems on track for a successful career as a business man.

But Adonis has that itch to see if he has the talent that his father had, and starts to fight low talent boxers in Tijuana bar rooms.  Having some success south of the border, Adonis figures it is time to become a full time professional boxer, and seeks out his father’s nemesis and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).  Rocky has little interest in the fight game anymore; he owns a restaurant (Adrian’s), and is moving kind of slow these days.  Rocky also still keeps tabs on Mighty Mick’s Boxing facility, and soon Adonis and Rocky hook up to train.  When Adonis is not training, he has his eye on Bianca (Tessa Thompson), the lovely singer in the apartment below him.  And somewhere down the road is “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellow)….

This is a good boxing story with plenty of realistic action in the ring.  Michael B. Johnson is fine in the starring role, but it is the aging Rocky Balboa that steals the show.  Stallone shows some range in what is presumably the final appearance of Rocky, and it is a fine way for Balboa to end his saga.  Possibly even a shot at a Best Supporting nomination for Stallone.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Rocky to Adonis – “Your Daddy died in the ring.  This ain’t no joke!”

Adonis to Rocky – “I heard about a third fight behind closed doors.”  Rocky – “How’d you hear about that?” Adonis – “Since we’re pretty much family, who won the third fight?”

Rocky – “Philly fighters, I think they’re the toughest in the world.”

Doctor – “Is that the first time you’ve fallen down?”  Rocky – “Without being punched?”

Rocky – “I just want to see if I can get up those steps.  When you get to the top, you think you can fly….I think they added a few steps.”

And By The Way:  Tony Bellow is not just another actor trying to look tough in the ring.  He is known as Tony “Bomber” Bellow, and is a three time ABA Heavyweight Champion.

 

The Big Short

Movie:  The Big Short

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   In 2008 you probably lost some money in your 401K, stocks, bonds; maybe you lost your house as well.  Want to know why this happened?  This movie is going to walk you through what happened step by step, and it ain’t a pretty story.

First of all, you have to understand that a lot of the bankers and high level investment brokers are not all that smart, even though they make obscene salaries.  Then you have to be aware that a lot of people were obtaining home loans who really could not afford it, but the bankers were greedy.  And most of these loans were being classified AAA, meaning they were very supposed to be reliable.  Then you lump hundreds of mortgages together, and they become an asset called a mortgage backed security bond.  A few sharp people (in real life, mind you) in the investment world caught on to the insane riskiness of these mortgage bonds.  The first one was Michael Burry (Christian Bale), and he approached a major bank with a unique proposal, which was, that the bank he represented would pay a premium and basically bet that the mortgages the major bank held would fail.  If the mortgage bond did fail, the payout to Burry’s bank would be enormous.

Other investment bankers soon catch wind of Burry’s action, including Mark Baum (Steve Carell), Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt).  As the real life events unfold, there are a few cameos by stars such as Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and Anthony Bourdain, to help explain some fairly technical terms.  Don’t worry if you don’t understand the techno-babble.  All you need to know is that these investment bankers acted out of greed, stupidity, and total disregard for the consequences of their actions.  The end result, as we all remember back in 2008, was that our national economy was circling the drain, and caused financial markets to plummet and a worldwide panic.  A lot of people should have gone to jail for criminal malfeasance and idiocy in the first degree, but the crime was so large it was impossible to prosecute everyone.  A really fine film with especially great performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carell.  Possible Oscar nominations for their acting, and almost surely a Best Film nomination.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Mark Baum – “At 8% the bonds fail and we’re already at 4%?”

Jared Vennett – “If it goes bust you can make 10-1, 20-1, and no one is paying attention!”

“Are you saying my landlord’s dog took out the mortgage?”

Slick Banker – “My bank writes ninja loans – no income, so I just leave the economic section blank.”  Baum – “Why are they confessing?”  Baum Associate – “They’re not confessing, they’re bragging.”

Narrator – “It was at that moment that Mark realized the world economy might collapse.”

Baum to Arrogant Investment Banker – “You are an incredibly big piece of shit!”  Baum to Associate – “Short everything that guy has touched!”

Ben Rickert – “I am trying to sell $200 million of securities in a pub.”

Real Life Info:  Pay attention to the information on the screen at the end of the film.  The U.S. government was forced to bail these banks out, then the greedy bastards gave themselves big bonuses with the tax payer’s money.  Five trillion dollars in assets were lost from pension funds, 401Ks, savings, and homes.  Eight million people lost jobs, and six million people lost their homes.  And by the way, in 2015 some banks have started selling the same products that led to the financial collapse….