Mike Lobell

Mike Lobell

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Gambit Review


Good

Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy is enjoyably silly but never much more than that. Part of the problem is a lack of chemistry between stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz, and the film focuses on goofy slapstick instead of a coherent plot. So we may chuckle along the way, but it's hard to be interested in anything that happens.

Firth is at the centre as Harry, a London art expert who has a score to settle with his arrogant billionaire boss Lionel (Rickman). So he sets up an elaborate scam involving a fake Monet painted by his talented pal Wingate (Courtenay). But they need the help of a sassy Texan, PJ (Diaz), to make it work, and she doesn't play along as Harry imagines she will. Soon she's flirting shamelessly with Lionel while Harry sneaks around in the background setting up the con and struggling to pay for her extravagant stay in the Savoy. Meanwhile, Lionel is trying to make a deal with a group of hard-bargaining Japanese businessmen.

While the Coen brothers' script bursts with absurd wit, Hoffman directs the film as a mindless farce, missing every chance for black comedy. From the animated Pink Panther-style titles, the tone is light and frothy, the characters are paper thin and the plot's convolutions never seem to amount to anything. Most of the big set-pieces are irrelevant asides, such as a half-hearted scene involving the lion that's featured far too prominently on the movie poster. Or a long sequence in which Firth cavorts around the Savoy without his trousers. It certainly doesn't help that Firth and Diaz never generate even a spark of attraction between them.

Continue reading: Gambit Review

Isn't She Great Review


Bad
I'll start by saying up front that I really don't admire Bette Midler. I find her loud, hammy, a bit trashy, and generally obnoxious in every way. Oddly, this instantly qualifies her to play novelist Jacqueline Susann, who was loud, hammy, a bit trashy, and generally obnoxious in every way.

If the name Susann doesn't ring a bell, it's because you're too young. "Jackie" was a washed-up actress and radio star when she penned her first novel, The Valley of the Dolls, which went on to become, at its time, the biggest selling novel ever. Why? In the late 60s the tale of drugs and lurid sex against the backdrop of Hollywood was shocking. Now, it's quite tepid, and so is this film, exploring Susann's rise to fame.

Continue reading: Isn't She Great Review

The Freshman Review


Extraordinary
One of the most savagely underrated films of the 1990s, The Freshman is both touching and hilarious. The increasingly unlikely story has Matthew Broderick as a film school freshman from Vermont who gets caught up in the mob in New York City, where its boss is played by a mush-mouthed Marlon Brando, uncannily similar in appearance to a certain godfather. Strong supporting performances from Bruno Kirby, Frank Whaley, and Paul Benedict -- as Broderick's professor at film school, which is roundly pilloried -- elevate the film to minor classic status.

Tears Of The Sun Review


Very Good
A priest, two nuns, and an American doctor tend to wounded refugees in a Nigerian mission. No, this isn't the first line from one of your grandfather's old jokes. It's the launch pad for Antoine Fuqua's Tears of the Sun, a proper military potboiler that catapults blue-collar Bruce Willis back into the hero seat he's grown accustomed to over the years.

Civil war is tearing Nigeria in two. Without warning, the country's president is overthrown by infidels, who assassinate the deposed leader along with his immediate family. Amidst the political upheaval, our government orders a U.S. Navy SEAL platoon led by Lt. A.K. Waters (Willis) to infiltrate the African jungles and extract Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) and her assistants.

Continue reading: Tears Of The Sun Review

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Mike Lobell Movies

Gambit Movie Review

Gambit Movie Review

Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy...

Isn't She Great Movie Review

Isn't She Great Movie Review

I'll start by saying up front that I really don't admire Bette Midler. I...

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Tears of the Sun Movie Review

Tears of the Sun Movie Review

A priest, two nuns, and an American doctor tend to wounded refugees in a Nigerian...

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