The Cold Light Of Day

How do you like your thrillers? Are you like me and prefer your thrillers to be fast paced and have the sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seats kind of tension (aka – a white knuckler – a term derived from so tightly gripping the arms rests of the theater seats – that your knuckles turn white). How about gunplay and auto chases? And finally, don’t you hope thrillers have a bit of logic to them, a really bad villain, and a heroic lead that you can admire – are these all on your wish list?

Which brings us to The Cold Light of Day which opened on Friday, September 7th. Historically, this weekend aka the weekend following the Labor Day holiday, has been the lowest film revenue producing weekend of the year. So if your film is opening on that weekend – there’s a good chance that A) your film isn’t that good, B) you chose to find a spot away from strong competition, and/or C) this was the only weekend offered to you.

The film stars Henry Cavill, Sigourney Weaver, and Bruce Willis. This is a film that begins with a family on a holiday aboard a sail boat off the coast of one of Spain’s sun-drenched beach towns. Willis (called Martin in the film) is a shadowy US government employee based in Madrid. Weaver (Carrack) is someone Willis works with, and the lead Henry Cavill as Will, is Martin’s son who has just flown in from San Francisco to meet up with his parents, his brother, and the brother’s girl friend, Dara.

When Will has had enough of his Dad’s heavy-handed parenting, he announces he has to go into town to get some stuff, so he dives off the sail boat to swim in and do his shopping. A few hours later, when he returns to the beach to swim back to boat – he doesn’t see the boat. He climbs up to the top of a hill,  and from there he can see that the boat has gone around the point and is now anchored in a gentle out-of-sight cove.

Will: Help me find my family!! The Local Cops: Take us to the boat …

He swims out to the boat and finds – his whole family is gone, and there are definite signs of a fierce struggle having taken place on board. The local police aren’t much help but they say take us to the boat. As usual in this type of film, the local police can’t be trusted. They’re about to turn Will over to the bad guys.

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Boss: Season 2 Episode 4 – Redemption – Recap

Episode 4 of Boss called Redemption was a step backwards. Yes, the story progressed, but at a slower pace than previous weeks; and for that reason, I’m calling it a step backward. One might also say, that this episode lacked a dramatic punch, or confrontation. Tom Kane’s illness was kept at bay for most of this episode, and aside from his usual hallucinations involving Ezra Stone – we didn’t see much physical manifestations of his disease.

However what we did see is that Tom Kane, the Mayor of Chicago, is something of a creep. It is one thing to have paranoia and because of this, one spies on his staff. It is something else entirely to have installed your spy cameras in the bedrooms of those who work for you.

Yes, this is the inner life of Tom Kane – outwardly he is the powerful Mayor of America’s Second City – but inwardly, Kane, is a man who is heading toward an abyss of unfathomable depths. Not only does he know this, but he also knows that there’s nothing to be done about it.

As Redemption opens, the police are questioning a man called Chad Langley, who they believe is the shooter in the Kane assassination attempt. The evidence? A rifle found in the trunk of the man’s car has provided a ballistics match to the bullet that struck Meredith Rutledge Kane. Motive? The man’s niece was raped and murdered 19 years ago. Langley blames the Mayor and has sent plenty of hate mail to city hall over the years including a recent death threat over Kane’s public housing plans. The thing of it is that this man Langley is a loony tune. He tells the detective interviewing him that he shot pictures of the assassination attempt with a camera embedded in his teeth. They’re going to issue a statement to the press but withhold the man’s identity until the investigation is complete.

Meanwhile at the Kane home, Emma is stealing some of her mom’s meds. Meredith comes into her bedroom unsteadily, and in obvious pain. Meredith says to Emma, I don’t want to be in this situation any more than you do…

With a suspect in custody, Kane is freed from wearing a Kevlar vest and is able to take his morning jogs (escorted of course) but at least the sun is up. The cover of darkness is no longer needed. There’s a camera crew and some press waiting for Kane at the conclusion of his run. He dodges questions about the suspect in custody but does allude to the police being confident that they have the right man. Kane concludes by thanking the people of Chicago who have offered their prayers for Meredith.

Kane climbs into the waiting limo and there’s Stoney, Kane’s usual hallucination, who says, invincibility is a myth, Tom. How long can you pretend? Kane answers, As long as hope has its bed of green. Ian Todd replies, All The King’s Men. To which Kane replies, Dante. The Divine Comedy. Penn Warren just used it as an epigram. Kane doesn’t give out compliments to Todd easily, so when Todd references the good press turnout at the conclusion of his morning jog, Kane won’t commend him for merely doing his job well. The shocker in this scene comes at the end when Kane tells Todd, I want you to find Kitty O’Neill for me.

At the Chicago Sentinel, Sam Miller, the former city beat reporter, now Editor, exhorts his staff to unearth the identity of the suspect in custody. Get me a name, a blood type, a gender – anything but the ‘suspect-in-custody’ bullshit. Miller is rough with the staff. If I say no Jackie, don’t pitch it again. Let’s find out who the shooter is, and why the State Attorney is fighting transparency on this.

Darius heads back to his slum apartment to find that Trey Rogers has set up a drug operation right in the apartment. You know – weighing, cutting, and bagging. Darius isn’t happy but Trey says, If you want your situation to remain rent free, you’ll sit yourself down and make sure these lovely young ladies don’t use the product.

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The Words

The Words opened today and as I had high expectations for the  film, I was disappointed. The film didn’t really open to grandly trumpeting favorable reviews by film critics eager to show off their skills and flourishes as much as it largely slithered into town quietly.

Speaking of towns – the locations in the film are supposed to be New York and wartime Paris. What we got instead were a couple of matte paintings and Montreal, Quebec, Canada was where they actually shot the film.

Okay, using some of Montreal’s back alleys and off-the-beaten-path side streets is understandable from a production cost perspective, but how ironic that a film about plagiarism and dishonesty is guilty of less than honest location settings.

Dennis Quaid as author Clay Hammond opens the film as a lauded author who has been awarded a grand literary prize. He’s been asked to read some passages from his latest book, The Words, to a packed auditorium. Only a few sentences in – we know that Hammond’s opus masterpiece is the story of a struggling writer. We segue from the auditorium, and Quaid’s dull reading, into the story of this writer, Rory Jansen. It is the old story within the story gambit and most of us have been down this way before, and we’ll go down this same way again and again within this film.

Ergo, we can label the structure of the film as multi-tiered. But back to what the story is about.

Jansen is played by Bradley Cooper, who earlier this year, in Limitless, also played a struggling writer. This time out, he doesn’t ingest magic pills, instead he finds a manuscript hidden within the secret folds of antique leather satchel that his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) bought for him on their honeymoon in Paris.

Jansen has received a number of rejects from publishing houses. He’s even called in for an interview with a publisher, played by Ron Rifkin, who was wasted as this was his only scene, where he’s told that he’s new, and unknown, and that they wouldn’t know how to begin to market Jansen’s book – as Rifkin said – it’s too interior.

Jansen’s money is getting dangerously low, so Jansen goes to ask his father (J.K.Simmons) for a loan. As expected, Jansen gets both the loan, and a lecture as well as a fatherly hug, so the Jansen household stays afloat. But eventually, Jansen must put his dream on the side, and take a job. He goes to work in the mailroom of a publishing house. A good idea – as he’ll have an opportunity to buddy up and connect with some editors and others of influence in the publishing world. Continue reading

Heartbreaker

‘I break up couples for a living’ –

So says Alex, the master heartbreaker. He also says, To achieve our goal, anything goes! Alex, played by Romain Duris is delightful in the 2010 French rom-com called Heartbreaker.

Directed by Pascal Chaumeil, the film opens in Marrakesh, Morocco. Before long we are back in Paris for a short stay, and then it is on to the south of France – to the Principality of Monaco. This is where most of the film takes place.

Alex is hired to break up a couple that will be married in just 10 days. The time is short so the task will be difficult. And the couple are seriously in love. However Alex is in serious debt. The money lenders have already called in a hulking Serbian knee-capper (he’s the goon waiting for Alex to fail to pay up).

Certainly it takes a lot of money to pull off some of the scams and schemes necessary ro make Alex’s business a success. Wearing expensive suits and accessories from Paul Smith, doesn’t come cheaply. Nor does the state-of-the-art high-tech resources like computers, spy-cams, and sophisticated software that Alex and his associates use to accomplish their missions. So if Alex wants to get out from under the debt, he’s going to have to succeed this time.

Romain Duris as ‘Alex’ and Julie Ferrier as ‘Melanie’

Alex works with his sister Melanie (played by Julie Ferrier who sparkles in the role) and her husband Marc , played by Francoise Damiens who is on hand for a few semi-slapstick scenes, so each of their operations, or missions, are a three-person-operation. The sister is the eyes and ears on the ground. You know, she gets the necessary jobs in the hotels  like waitressing, reservations, phone operator and so forth) to keep Alex abreast of the comings and goings of the involved parties. The sister’s husband handles the technical duties like phone intercepts, video and auditory surveillance. They work as a well oiled machine.

However all of this isn’t like a team from Mission Impossible. Instead Alex has to do all of the hardest work which includes him being the object of desire, who must convince the women that they can do better than the loser guys they’re already involved with, and yet stay clear of any sexual entanglement with the targeted woman. Continue reading

Boss: Season 2 Episode 3 – Ablution – Recap

Episode 3 of Boss aired last night, Friday, August 31st. The Episode was called Ablution which could signify washing, or ritual washing. I think a better title might have been Storm Clouds Gather. Sorry, but Tom Kane, the fictional Mayor of Chicago did indeed wash his hands repeatedly in the episode, and he also attempted to remove a stain made by steak sauce on a sleeve cuff – but it wasn’t always easy to determine if the Mayor was lucid and actually performing the washing. Or was he hallucinating. In any event, whether his washing of his hands was a ritual cleansing or a legitimate washing – those hands will never be clean.

Early on, Kane is in his office discussing the assassination attempt with the Cook County State Attorney, Doyle, who is on point for the investigation due the case being high-profile.

Why haven’t we identified the shooter yet?

Doyle: As Mayor you’re not exactly short on enemies. The ultimate objective here is not prosecution, it is conviction. On my watch, whoever did this, cannot get off on a technicality. Time must be taken.
Kane: My wife nearly died, and while she relearns how to breathe again, I am a prisoner in my own home. I am shuttled to work everyday by an armed guard, and I am strapped into a vice [a bullet-proof vest], any time I want to go outside. And you have the gall to sit there reciting the ramblings of the deranged. Why hasn’t the shooter been found?
Doyle: Lack of physical evidence on the scene, and the inordinate number of people who hate you personally, or hate what you do politically.

Kane nods. He can’t do anything but agree as he knows what Doyle is saying is true.

Doyle: We’re doing everything that we can, as quickly as we can. That said – moves that you’ve made, conflicts, entanglements – it would help to hear about them.
Kane: Conflicts. Entanglements. Moves. You’ve just described my job. And in twenty years, no one has ever shot at me before.
Doyle: But now, someone has.

Yes, Tom Kane is having a rough go of it. His hallucinations come with regularity. Emma will be brought home by the Sheriff at 7:00 PM tonight to serve out her house arrest.

While Meredith’s struggles in the hospital continue – walking is still a difficult chore in her weakened state, at the Zajac’s home, preparations are underway for a live televised interview.

Ben Zajac: I don’t anticipate any hardball questions coming at you…
Maggie Zajac: If they do, I pivot back to you – strength, character, courage – relax Ben.

Ben has fired his campaign manager, Rick. He’s going to ask Maggie to do the job. Maggie Zajac is one cool customer. Despite all this, Maggie still has turned away every physical advance by Ben. Aside from outward appearances, for political opportunity, their marriage is in a halt.

In a Chicago back alley, we see Trey making a payoff. His envelope is light. Trey gets warned.

Darius appears. He tells Trey he needs a place to crash. Trey replies that what you need is bath. Bad. There’s still no indication about why Darius is on the lam. Continue reading