Archive for Crime


Posted in 6, Crime, Drama with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/25/2018 by joycereview


I wanted to offer this review because, as a self-defense teacher and as a film afficianado, I feel I am compelled to give my take on it. The importance of this movie is clear – to let people know how crazy the world can be, how fear overrides a lot of your decision-making, and to tell the unique story of Elizabeth Smart. 

This movie was done well in terms of acting with the two leads (Alana Boden and Skeet Ulrich) looking almost identically as the people they set out to play. Kudos on casting! Undoubtedly you’ll read reviews that viewers had problems with one thing – the clips of the actual Elizabeth Smart speaking about the experience during particular harrowing scenes. The problem is that it comes across as cheesy, stops the story cold, and seems like she is trying to convince the viewer that what she did was the ONLY thing that she could have done. I didn’t personally think harshly on this, however I didn’t care how it interrupted the story and flow of the film. If I were the one making this, I would have added her remarks (and even interviews with her family and past footage) at the end.
While the movie (which is good for a Lifetime movie) follows Elizabeth at every moment, it would have been nice to see to what extent the rest of the world was invested in finding her. It was certainly worth a watch, and didn’t disappoint – both me and my wife just thought there were elements that could have been done better. 
Movies like this about survival and perseverance should be made and certainly seen.
What did you think about the movie? Leave your comments below
For more information on Elizabeth Smart and the wonderful work that she is doing in regards to issues of violence, you can find her at ElizabethSmart.Com
She’s on Twitter @ElizSmart
Her Foundation: The Elizabeth Smart Foundation
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Posted in Classic, Crime, Drama with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/01/2018 by joycereview

The Godfather II (1974)

Let the hating begin! Keep in mind that I still think that The Godfather II is a fine movie, and though 7 is well under the high marks of 9 and 10 (as many would mark it), I feel that most of this is based on popularity and the crowd/fan effect. The Godfather (1972) has one of the highest rated scores of any film on IMDB at 9.2. Rightly so, as Francis Ford Coppolla and writer Mario Puzo are geniuses. What happens at the end of that movie, as young Michael takes the reigns, leaves you clawing for more. How will Michael move forward? Will he be able to fill his father’s shoes? (Even) What’s the background of the Corleone family? You get this, in a film that runs for 3 hours and 22 minutes – let’s say 3 and 1/2 with a potty break.


Let me tell you first what I loved. The beginning, at least the first 15 minutes was as fascinating as any film I’ve seen. We see a young Vito Andolini as he loses his entire family at the hands of Sicily’s Don Francesco. Not only are we shocked right off the bat, but we instantly remember his words to Johnny Fantana, “A man that doesn’t spend time with his family isn’t a real man” and understand why he said it.

Part II gave us the return of the original cast (minus a few, obviously) thus allowing for a feeling of continuity and continued excitement. It also gave us brilliant performance by Robert De Niro, playing the future Don in his late 20’s-early 30’s. The element that most impressed me was that not only was over 90% of De Niro’s dialogue in Sicilian, but he spoke it well (per an Italian source).

Lastly, the symbolism was wasted on me. From the very beginning we have the image of the chair, the image of young Vito detained at Ellis Island, and the image in our minds of the mature don from the first film.


What detracts from the well-intentioned and overly ambitious script is based largely on structure. Though the film is able to replicate the mood of the first, the flashbacks to 1958 disrupts the narrative and because of the weight of both, leaves you wondering … why this isn’t just two separate films? There are also scenes that seem rather pointless, like the Michael’s actions in Cuba (with quite a bit of footage on the rise of Castro) and Vito’s aid to an elderly widow so she’s not evicted.

Although it is a fine film, it is not without its holes. It certainly doesn’t have the weight, quotable lines, and tight storyline as The Godfather gave us. Besides the murderous intro, the “kiss of death” and the revenge of Vito Andolini… there really isn’t enough in the 200 minutes of film to keep your revitted. But that’s just me!

What did you think and was there anything you think I missed?

Perhaps you think I’m wrong?

Tell me why!




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Posted in Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/02/2009 by joycereview

The Brave One, a remake of the Charles Bronson classic Deathwish is a sensational flick, perfectly cast and well-acted.  Here’s the “skinny”…

Erica Bain (Jodie Foster), WKNW radio personality, walks the street finding sounds, stories and observations of New York life for her program Streetwalk.  On one dark evening, Erica and her fiance, David (Naveen Andrews) walk their dog through Central Park and are confronted by a group of malicious punks.  They are severely beaten and David dies from his injuries.  Her world completely shattered, Erica purchases a gun for self-protection, only to find it as an instrument for her chosen brand of justice and vengeance.

Many of you who read these reviews know that besides my love for critiquing films, I have a passion for educating and empowering individuals (women in particular) to defend themselves against violence (see The Golden Thread).  One of the major obstacles that I come across is convincing women to be proactive in their efforts to learn self-defense, to be diligent enough to train, and to come to understand themselves amidst a cloud of fear.  Erica Bain, unfortunately, began to understand the depths fear can penetrate after that tragic stroll.  A quote from the movie that I particularly like is

I always believed that fear belonged to other people.  Weaker people.  It never touched me.  And then it did.  And when it touches you, you know… that it’s been there all along.  Waiting beneath the surfaces of everything you loved.

The story of revenge is an old one, but plays to that part of our human nature that demands a certain “final” justice.  However, this film (achieved largely by the skilled actors, writers, and an extremely talented story-telling director in Neil Jordan) doesn’t, at any point, imply that her actions are justified.  If we have that notion of “They got what’s coming to them,” it’s on us… it’s our (0ver-)reaction towards violence… and it’s our sympathetic connection to the protagonist’s ordeal.  We are wrong.  Erica Bain knows she is wrong… that what she is doing is wrong, and this is a major quality in a film that transcends the typical revenge movie stereotypes.

It was nearly 30 years ago that Jodie Foster played opposite Robert DeNiro in the New York vigilante picture, Taxi Driver. The city has changed a lot in 30 years, but the history of violence stands and it is fitting to see Jodie play a character that is like so many of us: happy, optimistic,…blind.

There are so many things that are right about this film that it is hard to find any faults.  Jodie Foster’s performance is one of the best that I’ve seen and Terrence Howard does a magnificent job as the “detective playing his hunches.”  Artistically crafted by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Michael Collins) this film sets itself apart from the masses of revenge-driven stories and opens the doors for us to see our own morality and perhaps even question it.  Per example, “How can justice prevail, when the good do nothing?”