A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “HONEST THIEF” – 7.0

 

In a word:   Engrossing                    

 

Liam Neeson is one of those actors who cannot make a bad movie. Much like DiNiro, Cruise and so many more, he always gives it 100 percent, while making his tough-guy  characters as believable as possible. “Honest Thief” is a good movie, but not a great movie, mainly because of too many implausibles.

     Based in a major city in America, Neeson plays a middle-aged widower raising a boy and, for the last several years, worked at becoming a top-flight bank robber because he had been a munitions expert in the military and knew the mechanics of entering a safe undetected. Over the years, he amassed some 9 million dollars, but never spent any of it (Implausible #1) but rather, he stored the cash in boxes inside a rental storage facility.

     Alas, Neeson’s character meets the woman of his dreams and decides he will give up crime and confess to her, and to the FBI, his crimes, and return the money in the hope of earning a short sentence. (Implausible #2) Sounds good enough, but the mission becomes more dangerous when the FBI agents are more personally interested in his piles of cash. Everything goes wrong, even the confession, as he and his lady friend are faced with separate lives for many years.

     As usual, a number of fight scenes consist of the inevitable overdose of martial arts, compliments of the good-and-bad guys, as well as a few shoot-outs.  (Implausible #3).

     The new romance for Neeson is played by Kate Walsh, a very good actress. I can’t say the same for some in the supporting cast, especially those who played the crooked FBI agents. It just didn’t work for me and, I would imagine, the FBI as well.

     I can opine that Neeson is truly a gifted actor, who will likely be confined to more shoot-‘em-ups and too many scenes of martial arts combat, rather than deep, moving roles like he did in Schindler’s List. Regardless, the film was entertaining, but not worthy of any Oscar nominations.

     I’d give this movie a 7 out of 10.

Honest Thief (2020) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: THE SECRETS WE KEEP – 9/10

“The Secrets We Keep”    9.0

In a word: Powerful!

Pete Hammond, who writes for Hollywood Daily, sums it up in one complex sentence, posted on Rotten Tomatoes:

       “Noomi Rapace is fierce and powerful in this suspenseful and thought provoking post WWII Nazi revenge thriller.”

     The worst thing this movie is the blah title, certainly not enticing to the potential viewer. It would have been better titled “Secrets” then let the viewer fill in the blanks. The second worst aspect is the slow pace in the first 20-30 minutes whereby some scenes could have been cut or shortened without losing the enticement.

     However, once those first 20 minutes pass, the storyline falls into place in a city in middle America set in the late 1950’s, where the emotional and physical scars from World War II still haunt the survivors.  It’s not long that the viewer is psychologically captured in this heart-wrenching saga about a woman from Romania who married an American doctor after the war, as they seem to live happily ever after. That all abruptly changes when she spots, she thinks, one of the wicked soldiers who left her for dead after mentally damaging her for all time fifteen years earlier.

     While actress Noomi Rapace’s character cannot let go of the horrible memory, her marriage, and the marriage of the suspected Nazi, are at serious risk. She virtually cannot stop herself from dwelling on the nightmare, believing this is the man who will haunt her for life, while her doctor husband does all he can to secure the marriage.

     This is one of those edge of the seat pictures, complete with sorrow and tears, reminding us that not only did WWII create suffering from the 50 million deaths, but also within the minds and hearts of millions more still living.

     Without question, the focus of the story the character played by Noomi Rapace, a Romanian/Swiss actress who I’d never heard of, though she has played in many movies from around the world. This performance was, without a doubt, Oscar worthy. The rest of the cast also performed well, but the intensity we felt from Noomi Rapace left me speechless as I watched the list of credits, much the way I watched “Schindler’s List” as the tears welled.

     Like “Schindler,” this movie is not about wild chases, and guns, and tricks and sex, it’s all about drama and the fragility of life.

     (As a side note, it sure was great watching a movie on the big screen, though there were only two people in the auditorium, Suzanne and me.)

     I give this movie a 9 out of 10.

The Secrets We Keep (2020) – Full Cast & Crew – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “UNHINGED” – 9/10

“UNHINGED”  9/10

 

In a word:  Maniacal 

 

First Note: This was quite a treat watching a movie on the big screen after six months of cinematic withdrawals. The movie appeared at the now-open Oaks Theater in Melbourne, where we shared the cavernous room with three other unmasked strangers.

If you like hard core, powerful and terrifying movies, don’t miss this psycho thriller starring an overweight Russell Crowe who, for some unexplained reason, was angry at the entire planet. He meets up with a horn-honking mom stuck in traffic with while taking her ten-year old boy to school, who had no idea she had awakened the wrath of an out-of-control lunatic.  

The mom character is deftly played by South African Born actress, Caren Pistorius, who obviously shows her talent and ability to make terror scenes feel very real, particularly when trying desperately to protect her son.

In his quest to chase and destroy the mom and her boy, Crowe has us sitting on the edge of our seats while the frenetic victims are on screen doing everything possible to save their own lives.  With a few exceptions, this movie is fast-paced as almost everyone Crowe encounters meets a tragic end.

A few interspersed scenes slowed the pace a bit, but that was a good thing allowing audiences to catch their breath. And, if one looked hard enough, a few implausible errors could be seen, but it took nothing away from the movie.

It was a good wake-up call returning back to movie houses where they belong.

Probably no Oscars here, though Crowe was quite convincing in his role as a maniac.

I give this a 9 out of 10.

Unhinged (2020) – IMDb

VICTOR BORGE – A GREAT COMIC REMEMBERED

This brief article is not about politics, cops, crime, drugs or sex. It’s about a great man who brought the lighter side of life into our hearts, who was equally as funny as he was musically brilliant. We old folks will remember him well. It’s too bad such a dear-hearted soul is not still around, to bring joy, love and laughter into our lives. Examples:

 Who said…

      Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

      Santa Claus has the right idea – visit people only once a year.

      I only know two pieces; one is ‘Clair de Lune’ and the other one isn’t.   

      I wish to thank my parents for making it all possible… and I wish to thank my children for making it necessary.

      My father invented a cure for which there was no disease and unfortunately my mother caught it and died.

      When an opera star sings her head off, she usually improves her appearance.

      If I have caused just one person to wipe away a tear of laughter, that’s my reward.

Born Borge Rosenbaum in Denmark, 1909, Victor Borge was blessed to be the son of professional musicians, where he began studying piano at the age of two. He performed his first major piano concert in 1926. Soon after, the Nazi war machine was creeping into all of Europe, rounding up Jews by the millions. Young Borge, a Jew, was playing a concert in Sweden in April of 1939 where he managed to escape to Finland. He arrived in the U.S. in August of 1940, unable to speak a word of English.

America was fortunate to be graced by this man’s warmth and genius. His talent, not only in music but in humor as well, soon became recognized by some of the most famous performers in America (at the time), including Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee who first featured Borge on his radio show.

The rest is history, most of which has been recorded for show biz addicts to enjoy, including modern times. He died in the year 2000.

What astounds me the most about Borge besides his obvious musical talent, is the effortless manner in which he cracked jokes or engaged in physical stunts while playing the most difficult of classical music. He was not a typical  “stand-up” comic. He never needed to rely on crude language, insults, politics or sex for his audiences. He was an all-around comedian in a genre that belonged to him alone.  No one has copied his style, before or since.

Now I’ll shut up and provide the link in which he was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999. Enjoy. 

Victor Borge – Honored by Kennedy Center, Lifetime Achievement 1999 – YouTube

And if you’ve never seen a Borge performance in which he uses “phonetic punctuation” to tell a story, you’ll be amazed.  Less than 3 minutes. Here’s a link:

Victor Borge – Phonetic Punctuation – YouTube

And…A typical Victor Borge performance at the Eisenhower White House, where people were stricken with powerful stomach aches…

 

 

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "EMMA" – 5/10

Movie:         “Emma”
Rating:         5 out of 10.
In a word:   Boring
 
     Be prepared for one more adaptation of the 1815 Jane Austen novel, first filmed in 1996 starring Gwyneth Paltrow. This movie, starring Anya Taylor-Joy follows the same basic characters within like-settings, mainly the breathtaking countryside of inner England dotted with landscapes and mansions much like any other period-based film about old England, to include a smattering of snobbery.
     If you like that genre, though unoriginal, you’ll like this movie. For sure, the photography is inspiring and the costumes awesome. The cast of actors played their roles well, including Miss Taylor-Joy’s lead.
     If there is criticism earned, it must be attributed to the director, Autumn De Wilde who gave us one scene after another of Emma’s gazing eyes and close-up expressions ad nauseam, slowing the film to a point of sheer boredom.
     The plot is simple: Emma Woodhouse is a young, beautiful, and vain woman who lives in a large mansion on the Hartford estate of her elderly father in the village of Highbury. She has no wish to marry, but enjoys pairing her family and friends. The film mostly follows Emma and her friend Harriet as they experience friendships, love and heartbreaks, complete with an array of misunderstandings because no one ever comes to the point in a conversation.
     One interesting item of trivia: When the gentleman, Mr. Knightly, asked Emma for her hand in marriage, the close-up shows the actress suffering from a nosebleed, that was apparently unscripted. But they left it in the movie anyway.
     Lovers of old-English aristocracy will like this film. Otherwise, be prepared to yawn.
     I give it a 5 out of 10.
Emma. (2020) – Trivia – IMDb