Without a Paddle (2004)

This a cast like this, it was hard to say no to watching this film today on HBOGo. The three leads Seth Green, Dax Shepherd, and Matthew Lillard took on the task of going on a treasure hunt to honor their deceased friend, who they found out had tracked down the legend and treasure of D.B. Cooper.

Back when this came out, I would not have picked this up with a 10-foot pole because I thought it would have been too slapstick for me. While there was a bit of that crude humor, it wasn’t over the top like I had anticipated. I still didn’t like that they had the typical macho male jokes on homosexuality. I think the film could have had more sophistication to leave those types of jokes out. It just was not necessary and could have gotten a perfect score if it wasn’t for that.

The film is pretty short, running for about 100 minutes, but the film felt a lot longer. Just when you think they find their way out of the woods, more hijinx happens.
If you haven’t seen Without A Paddle, it is worth a watch.

We Are Your Friends We Are Your Friends (2015)

I think Zac Efron has lost his hype and is finally getting into some decent films that work his acting abilities. He is no longer that guy from High School Musical and this film allows him to demonstrate that he is more than just a good looking guy.

We Are Your Friends is a film about the world of amateur DJs. Zac plays Cole Carter, who drops his perfect life in order to become a DJ. His friends or entourage are helping promote him. Cole meets a once-popular DJ and the two of them form a bond outside his entourage. Played by Wes Bentley, DJ James Reed helps him turn his music from a 100% computer-generated sound to something more organic and real.

This is not the typical start from the bottom and rise to fame film. We never see Cole make it big time. What we see is Cole connecting to his music and the tragedy that he endured and bringing that into his music at a music festival. A solid film that makes you think and feel something in between the thumping beats of the music.

Holes (2003)

I should not have watched this film since I was planning on going through the Disney catalog on the new Disney+, but instead I picked this film on HBO because it said it was going away. Probably going to Disney+.

Holes is based on the 1998 novel of the same name starring Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and a young Shia LaBeouf. Shia was just coming off of the success of the Disney Channel television series, Even Stevens. The story in Holes is divided into two parts: The kids who are on a juvenile detention camp. The other part is the legend of Katherine “Kissin’ Kate” Barlow and is shown via flashbacks based on what the kids are doing or finding. The kids at the detention camp are digging holes looking for “treasures” in the dried-up lake where the legend took place.

This award-winning young adult novel was released in 1998 and it was no wonder Disney picked it up and it was a great vehicle for LeBeouf. It’s a family film that adults can enjoy, probably even more than the kids. Its a wonderful film that would make Walt Disney proud.

Night School (2018)

I started my day of movies on HBOGo today and browsed the list of movies that would be leaving HBO this month. I knew my wife would not want to watch this film, so I decided to give it a chance.

Based on the original trailers for the film at the time of release, I was on the fence about watching it. I am not a big fan of comedy like this. Kevin Hart reminds me of a black Jim Carrey. Too animated for my taste when it comes to comedy.

Night School is about a guy who wasn’t good in school and was always made fun of throughout his life. When Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) gets offered a job where he needs his GED, he takes to night classes in order to prepare for the test – still being a joke when it comes to education. Not wanted to be a joke, he keeps his classes a secret from his successful girlfriend.

Yes, Night School is over the top. Yes, the humor could be considered crude. No, it wasn’t annoying. Actually, it is quite intelligent and a fun little story.
Sometimes, you shouldn’t judge a movie by its cast…they could surprise you.

Late Night (2019)

Mindy Kaling brings us the story of Late Night television as writer, producer, and co-star of the movie Late Night. The film stars Emma Thompson, a popular TV host who hires a new writer after being called out for not having any women on staff. Molly Patel (Kaling) is hired as a minority hiring and put on the writing staff even though she had no experience in the industry.

While this is happening, the network is planning on replacing Thompson’s character, Katherine Newbury, with a younger and more in-tune with today’s world male TV host. Newbury goes to extremes to make herself relevant again with the help of Patel.

Mindy does a great job with the script for this film. The jokes and social satire with what is happening in the world were tasteful while remaining funny. Thompson’s proper British attitude played while with the American humor. It was a nice blend between the two worlds.

The film was quite enjoyable and I am glad that I took the time to watch.

Greta (2018)

When a movie is based on the stalking of Chloë Grace Moretz, how can one not want to watch it. Since Kick-Ass, I have been following Chloe’s films and have watched her grow up on the screen. It is almost like I am stalking Chloe via her movies.

Greta is a suspense thriller that is all that…much suspense and the thrill of Chloe trying to shake her stalker. The film begins with Chloe’s character, Frances McCullen, whose kindness finds her returning a purse left on the train to an older lady. The nice lady invites her into the house and thanks her with something to drink.The two of them strike up a friendship, mostly because Frances had recently lost her mother.

Greta, played by Isabelle Huppert, comes on a bit too strong and when Frances tries to separate herself from Greta, it turned obsessive. Greta stalks Frances to the point that she fears for her life.

Neil Jordan, who won the Academy Award for the film The Crying Game, directed this brutal film that makes you fear for Frances’ life too. The obsession just does start and stop, but it restarts, stops, starts again, and finally comes to an end…or does it?

The film is wonderful and enjoyable which has everything you could want in a stalker film.

Boogie Nights (1997)

From the first time I saw Boogie Nights, I fell in love with this flick. It isn’t just about the sex, my love for this is about the characters and players in this Paul Thomas Anderson film.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams, who is a high-school dropout in the late 70’s who wants to make a name for himself. He meets Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a adult movie filmmaker and auditions for him. When Horner sees Eddie’s large manhood and stamina, everyone wants a piece of little Eddie, who changes his name to Dirk Diggler.

The film focuses on the rise and fall of Dirk Diggler, and also the industry. Some of the most interesting moments take a look behind the scenes with the Horner and the produces as the industry is moving from film (expensive) to video tapes and amateur actors. It is discussed and portrayed in a very truthful way.

Each of the characters are troubled and broken, much like the stars of porn films of the 70’s and 80’s. Drugs, sex, money… And I don’t think there is a bad performance from this all-star cast including Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heather Graham.

I can not find a thing wrong with this film and is considered one of my favorite films of all time.

Cruel Intentions (1999)

The A-list came out of this film, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair are all pawns in this game of love and betrayal.

Cruel Intentions is the modern day tale of Choderlos de Laclos novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and it really is the movie the catapulted the stardom of it’s actors. Each of the main characters went of to be famous in their own right.

Directed by Roger Kumble, Step siblings at a prestigious a private school make a wager with each other to see if Sebastian (Phillippe) could take the virginity of the new headmaster’s daughter (Witherspoon). Winner takes all, but when he falls for his victim the stakes become even higher.

All of the cast were magnificent and this movie has become a classic for the 90′s generation. It also contains the most famous lesbian kiss of all time which won the MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss, that year, for the lesbian lip lock between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair.

Watching again in 2019, the movie holds up well with time. Its hard to tell the film wasn’t made today. Plus, it was nice to a very beautiful Ryan Phillippe so young. He definitely could turn me straight.

Chef (2014)

Being a foodie, I don’t know why I didn’t know about this movie earlier. Jon Favreau stars, produces, and directs this film with some high-dollar names to yummy film that debuted at SXSW in 2014.

The film is food centric as Favreau tells the story about a chef in Los Angeles that is gearing up for a visit from the most important food critic (Oliver Platt). He has planned some of his best creations, but is sidelined by the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman) who tells him he must serve the restaurant’s classics. When the restaurant gets a mediocre review, the chef accidentally calls out the critic on social media thinking his tweet would be private. Being stifled, the chef takes a family trip back to his Miami roots for inspiration. This leads to being his own boss on a food truck.

Favreau really did capture the whole power of social media in the food world with this film. There is so much truth in this film. From the chef not really understanding social media because he has been focused on the cooking of food only, to the son being able to become the marketing man for the truck. The power of world of mouth can make or break any business.

But having a social media plot driven film could possibly date the film in years to come. Twitter five years ago was strong, but now it does not play as much importance as new outlets like Instagram in the food world. With all of that said, the film was fun, heartwarming, and yummy. I want a food truck, now.

American Pastoral (2016)

Not a movie I would have sought out to watch, but I am glad I took a chance on this film. American Pastoral is Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut and it is definitely worth the watch.

Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor) is the small town’s high school all-star, Mr. Popularity, a legend among his people. His wife Dawn (Jennifer Connelly) was a former beauty queen. Together this perfect couple gives birth to a girl, who grows up less than perfect. As she gets older, she bucks to system, wants to protest the war, and is against everything and everyone. When she blows up the post office and kills a beloved townsman, she runs from the law and the family. Swede doesn’t give up on his search for his daughter because he is convinced that she had been brainwashed.

The film covers a time period where people were protesting the Vietnam war, also the Newark and black equality. Young people, like Swede’s daughter, Merry (Dakota Fanning) took to violence as a way of protesting the government. They didn’t care about their actions and who they hurt along the way. Each of the parents handled their daughter in different ways. While I wasn’t around during these times, I can imagine that this was true to the times.

McGregor captured each of the three main characters brilliantly. The story, the emotion, the connections, are everything you can hope for in a dramatic film like this. The film is based off the novel of the same name, written by Philip Roth. While the film is not a critic’s favorite, I really disagree. When you connect, you live the film and I was there with them. Wonderful shot and told story.