Category Archives: mystery

A Kind of Murder

Directed by Andy Goddard, who spent quality time directing Downton Abby episodes, A Kind of Murder follows an obsessed crime novelist, played by Patrick Wilson, who is married to a suicidal wife, played by Jessica Biel. The movie is suspenseful, fascinating along with a captivating storyline that includes twists and turns like an old-fashion movie.

With such a talented cast, I was surprised that the movie’s tempo was slow and not as engaging as it could have been like the novel the movie is based. The novel by Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote other popular psychological thrillers such as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The movie follows a crime novelist obsessed with an unsolved murder case begins to fantasize about committing a crime of his own. His marriage is an unhappy one, and his desire to be free from his beautiful but damaged wife becomes an obsession. But when his wife is found dead the lines blur between innocence and intent, forcing the question who, in fact, is the real killer?

The movie is a thriller and has a story that should be engaging, but somehow it fell flat in the third act.

Gridlocked

3D_CMYK_Gridlocked_DVDWrpDirected by Canadian Allan Ungar, Gridlocked is a typical action thriller resembling a combination of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

The story follows former SWAT leader David Hendrix, played by Australian-born Dominic Purcell, is down on his luck and has failed to receive medical clearance after taking a bullet on the job. Despite being highly trained and competent, his efforts have been reduced to routine tasks for the NYPD. As if things couldn’t get any worse, he’s been forced to babysit movie star Brody Walker, played by Canadian and 5x World Karate Champion Cody Hackman, a hard-partying celebrity that’s been sent on a mandatory ride along as part of his probation.  Pampered and irritating, Walker is the last thing Hendrix needs. But all of that changes when a police training facility comes under attack by a team of ruthless mercenaries led by the mysterious Korver, played by Tony-nominated Stephan Lang.  Now, Hendrix and Walker must band together with the remaining survivors to fight back and keep the mercenaries from overtaking the compound. The only problem is Hendrix and Walker do not get along, and they just might kill each other before the mercenaries do.

Lethal Weapon’s Danny Glover plays fatherly-type Sully, and it great to see how him in this role and makes the movie more gratifying.  Other supporting actors such as Vinnie Jones and Trish Stratus do a pretty decent job of moving the story along, and the main mystery to the storyline is revealed about half way through the movie. With Purcell as a good guy and Vinnie as a bad guy, we all know where this goes with some manageable humor in their remarks in a teasing way

I am not going so far as to recommend the movie. But if you are looking for an action thriller that you haven’t seen yet, then stream or rent this one. It’s worth it.

Misconduct

misconductDirected by Shintaro Shimosawa, he guides an all-star cast and follows the dangers of power and ambition manifested in Misconduct.  I was fortunate to have a Blu-ray with Digital HD to view the movie. The movie is shot well by Michael Fimognari, who is known for shooting low-grade horror movies.

The intense legal thriller is headlined by Josh Duhamel with Oscar winners Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins to back him up with their solid acting.  Other strong cast members are Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung-Hun Lee, Julia Stiles, and Glen Powell.

We follow Duhamel’s character, who is an ambitious lawyer. He is seduced by his ex-girlfriend, played by Akerman. At the same time, she presents evidence that incriminates her boss, a corrupt pharmaceutical executive.  He finds himself caught in a power struggle between the pharmaceutical magnate, played briefly by Hopkins, and his firm’s senior partner played convincingly by Pacino. When the case takes a deadly turn, he must race to uncover the truth before he loses not only his wife, played by Eve, but his career, and possibly his own life.

I was entertained by this movie because of the suspense, and the ending was believable. Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins are true talents and professionals. They were so real and engaging. I watched the movie with two other people, who also enjoyed the movie, so it is worth the rental and time.

If you decide to get the Blu-ray, the look behind-the-scenes of Misconduct includes in-depth special features including “The Making of Misconduct” and deleted scenes.

Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 5

perrymasonV5Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 5 continues to satisfy my viewer palate and is the final collection released by CBS Video. For a couple years now, CBS Video has been releasing the entire program of the Perry Mason TV series and movies.  That equals 271 episodes and 30 post series movies for television.

Growing up, Perry Mason was one of my family’s favorite television series to watch every week, and we were never disappointed by the stories because the writing never lets us down. The acting is first-class. There were no handheld camera shots or tight shots of beautiful women.  The series was pure plot-driven.  Perry Mason always found the real killer.

Some of you may have purchased the other Perry Mason Movie Collection Volumes, so you know what I am talking about. I hope you intend to purchase this final volume as well.  They are not cheap, but worth the value of good drama and priceless productions.

I was fortunate to be given a copy of Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 5.  The DVDs are in top quality condition with six wonderful and brilliant movies. Burr’s other co-star, Barbara Hale, had such wonderful rapport with him that can’t be reproduced in any other television show I have ever seen.

It can’t go without mentioning that Raymond Burr played a prosecutor in A Place in the Sun with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.  I guess, he was meant to be in the courtroom, though in Perry Mason he is on the other side of the court.

Below is the list of the final Perry Mason movies. The last four are without Raymond Burr and do not give the legendary series justice, but if you are going to collect these, you might as well have them all.

Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host (starring Raymond Burr)

Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss (starring Raymond Burr)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives (starring Paul Sorvino)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle (starring Hal Holbrook)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing Governor (starring Hal Holbrook)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester (starring Hal Holbrook)

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun

the lady with the carDirected by Joann Sfar, The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun reminds me of the 1960s European thrillers as an erotic, hazy story that spellbinds you because you can’t quite figure out what is going on with the femme fatal character. Is she good…is she bad? Still, she is the center of the movie, played by Scottish actress Freya Mavor.  Her luxuriant outfits, and cinematographer Manuel Dacosse leering camera offers the possibility of a good movie, yet the rambling mystery never fully takes shape.

Based on the 1970 remake starring Samantha Eggar and Oliver Reed, which I never saw, the story actually comes from Sebastien Japrisot’s convoluted 1966 novel.  The story follows apparently a normal French secretary Dany Doremus, played beautifully by Mavor.  She works for a shady boss, played by Benjamin Biolay. She arrives at his home to transcribe important documents. His wife, played by Stacy Martin, is at home, and she used to be friends with Dany. Now, they are uncomfortably distant. The couple asks her to drive them to the airport the next day.  They let her use his classic blue Ford Thunderbird. After dropping them off at the airport, Dany decides to take a joyride.

The movie is a bizarre journey, acid trip, and murder mystery. Nothing seems to add up as the story feels like an aimless road trip.  Situations happen to Dany, and she seems like she has a pipe in her head or a screw loose, but nothing is quite explained as to what is happening.

The story comes together, but by the time that happens, everything is lost. All except, Mavor as Dany. She is every man’s hot dream as well as Sfar, who films her at every and any angle to evocate what men want or can’t get enough of her.

The music haunts the film and crawls under the skin, especially with Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” pulling off a mind-blowing result.

All in all, the movie has some good merits, and some will enjoy it.

Flight 7500

flight 7500Directed by Takashi Shimizu, who directed The Grudge, Flight 7500 introduces us to the excitement of getting ready to take a trip on a plane in the friendly skies. But, soon the flight turns into a spine-chilling journey to the dark side.

Taking off from Los Angles to Tokyo for a 10-hour flight overnight, the plane is shaken up by a server storm. When the turbulence subsides, a violent death of a traveling businessman happens.  The other passengers investigate the cause, and it looks like a supernatural force is unleashed. More passengers are taken over by some kind of evil force causing them die while they try to figure out what the cause is.

Shimizu does a good job of moving the mystery along rather nicely, and it is entertaining, but there is nothing original about the story.  So, the overall story is kind of flat and goes nowhere but, because of the cast and crew, I was interested throughout. The ending has a twist, but it was very weak and didn’t fit the storyline, so I didn’t like the end. Besides that, it is worth watching when you have nothing else to do and want to be entertained.

Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung, Jerry Ferrara, Ryan Kwanten, Johnathon Schaech, and Amy Smart are all very good in the movie. The DVD comes with a featurette called “Inside Flight 7500.” The featurette tells you how the movie was made, which is always nice to watch and learn about filmmaking.

Mi-5

MI5Kit Harington plays a former MI5 agent, Will Crombie, who investigates the disappearance of Harry Pearce played by Peter Firth when he is blamed for the escape of a ruthless terrorist. Harington is known for starring in Pompeii, and I happy to see him in a different role.

Directed by Bharat Nalluri, Mi-5 is a very compelling spy-thriller and conspiracy movie. I am amazed by all twists and turns the storyline follows. Even the end has a twist I wasn’t expecting at all. The movie kept me on my toes trying to figure out who is who and who is now who. Just one betrayer after another carries the story. The characters in the movie are very real in the sense they conflict with the spy work they do. Is it morally justified or for the great good? Nice touch on ethical choices, which is refreshing. “You are responsible for your actions.”

I did notice the budget constraints of producing this movie, but still the action scenes were skillfully done but not over the top. Just enough to hold my attention and believe the scenes were real. Some movies go way overboard on the action sequences, then I no longer believe in what is happing because it is just to unreal.

I heard that this movie is based on a British TV show called Spooks, and when the show was distributed to the States, the title was changed to MI-5.  With that, if you are familiar with the TV show, you will notice the same characters in the movie and be able to follow the storyline much better than someone who hasn’t seen the television show.

Ascension

ascensionOriginally introduced as a miniseries for the SyFy Channel, Ascension is now available on DVD.  The movie is set against stimulating and enormous elements on which the story plays more with the human approach to drama.

The story is looks great for a miniseries, offering a spacecraft built in the 60s. The attention to detail is extraordinary, and draws the viewers into the experience.  The direction allows the actors to do stellar work with such notable talent as Tricia Helfer, Gil Bellows, Brian Van Holt, Andrea Roth, Brandon P. Bell, and Brad Carter. They all work together and keep the plot moving forward with memorable performances.

The CGI is well done with a few amateurish looks to scenes when viewing the exterior shots of the spacecraft.  Keeping in mind that the SyFy Channel produced the movie, the special effects comparably are not that bad.

The storyline is what wins the movie for me. In 1963, in the gripes of the cold war, we guard against our future survival by launching a huge interstellar ship call the U.S.S. Ascension. With 600 or more people aboard to guarantee our survival, the ship is little over 50 years out on a 100 year mission. Threatening the crew is an unprecedented domestic murder.

The movie is promoted as “Mad Men in Space” and I agree it is the best way to describe it. The twists and turns in the story is a little too much like a soap opera, but it keeps you on your toes with the plot moving along nicely.

All in all, I was surprised how good Ascension actually is for a low grade cable show. I really recommend it.  There is a lot of entertainment value for sure.

Mr. Holmes

Mr. HolmesMr. Holmes interested me because it is a movie about the legend Sherlock Holmes. My daughter praises the series on cable television, so I had a desire to watch it with her. As the opening credits rolled, I noticed the director is Bill Condon. I thought to myself, “That is a familiar name. I recall he has directed some notable movies.”

So, I knew we were in for a treat.

Mr. Holmes is an extraordinary movie about getting old gracefully. We get to meet Sherlock Holmes at an age that we probably never imagined him to be. He is beautifully played by Ian McKellen. I was quite intrigued by his ability to play the middle aged Sherlock in flashbacks and the older Sherlock on the edge of senility.  Mrs. Munro is his housekeeper, played by Laura Linney, who is a fantastic actress. She did a great job as homely, uncomfortable, and dissatisfied widow with her situation caring for Mr. Holmes. Though he did not treat her poorly, he came across harsh as a mean old man.  In the long run, he showed his warmth through her son that eventually reached her heart as well.

There is a wonderful boy who plays the housekeeper’s son, Roger, played by Milo Parker. He’s smart, intriguing, and likeable. There are some other characters such as the bees that add spice to the story. Each character plays an important part in the whole story as it all comes together at the end.

There’s also a mystery in the story which I really liked. However, in the long run the mystery is easy to figure out. It could have been better, but I felt as if the movie moved along quite well. At the end of the movie, I felt satisfied.

I felt that everything having to do with the production and direction was wonderful. Bill Condon has a great reputation for directing such movies as Gods and Monsters, Dream Girls, a couple of Twilight movies, and some other films of notoriety. His talent was clearly demonstrated in the movie.  I recommend Mr. Holmes for adults. Though my daughter is 15 years old, she watched it and enjoyed it because she is a fan of the current Sherlock Holmes series.

Ancient Aliens

ancientalienbluThis is a great series, and I look forward to each new set when they are released. This particular set, I am inclined to tell you that some of the episodes were really farfetched in their theories.

Yet, if you are a true believer in what the producers bring to bear, then there are so many other things they bring up that just cannot be proved wrong.  I am talking about the historical and physical evidence. It is really quite amazing.

The series brings up questions that are hard to answer, though  You have contemplate the ancients were more technologically advanced than we are today, or they had help.  Unless we know where the technology they used is located because we don’t have it today.  These points are hard to determine, and are some of the questions that come up.  That is way the show is out of the ordinary.

You get a chance to explore the fascinating chance that ancient aliens formed our history. According to the series, humans have told stories about beings with super-human strength since the man could pain on walls.

The series introduces ideas like tales about Zeus, Thor and Hanuman and even contemporary subjects like Superman and Batman and more helped form the world we live in today. Did these tales originated from oral legends about extraterrestrials? Whether you believe it or not, it is fun to speculate.

Moreover, ancient myths from around the globe, gods are often found intervening in human affairs, from Sumerian myth to the story of Moses. Were these supernatural visitations really the work of aliens using advanced technology to shape our civilization? We’ll also consider whether the reptilian alien, a fixture of science fiction, is reflected in the serpent gods of ancient myth. Could they have been living beings? Find out, and much more.

Another good aspect about the set is the special features like English subtitles for the hearing impaired, 3 discs, 12 episodes and no extras.