Review for “Amy”

Review for “Amy”

Synopsis:  This is a documentary about the life of Amy Winehouse, told by the people who knew her the best.

 

The first scene is the most memorable of many memorable scenes.  Amy Winehouse is just a teenager here, goofing and having fun with a few friends. Of course, we get the first glimpse of Amy’s enormous talent as she belts out “Happy Birthday” to one of her friends.  Amy seems carefree here, and so happy.  Beautiful.  A normal teenager.  The real Amy.  There was no hint of what would later happen to her.

 

“Amy” is a very informative and ultimately sad look at Amy Winehouse’s life.  The first half of the movie focused more on the happier times, when her first album, “Frank” was being promoted, recorded and toured.   The whole movie features many interviews–archived footage of Amy, her managers, friends, ex-husband, parents and others.   Amy seemed like a good person.  She seemed humble, funny, charming and fun to be with.  I could see why people were drawn to her.  She really seemed like the type of person I’d be friends with.  Of course, she was a very talented and versatile singer.  And the scenes where we watched her sing and perform in front of audiences were usually a joy to watch.  I enjoyed watching the behind-the-scenes footage of her writing and recording her songs.  It really felt like you were in the room with her.  It was incredible.  I liked how honest “Amy” was.

 

Of course, this made me even madder at a lot of the people in her life.  The second half was centered around that dark period in her life, when she became famous after “Back to Black” was released.  There were many clear signs that she needed and wanted help.  The bulimia, drug/alcohol addiction, telling people she needed a break etc. I just wanted to grab and shake some of these people, yelling “Why didn’t you help her?!”.  It was very sad to see.  Very depressing.   Director Asif Kapadia did an amazing job with the documentary.  He made an insightful and amazing piece about Amy’s life and tragic death.  It almost felt like you knew her.  I’d like to see another film of his if I can.

 

More than anything else, “Amy” seems to be a cautionary tale about how drugs and fame can be a dangerous mix.  The saddest part of all was that Amy didn’t want any of this–fame.  All she wanted was to share her music in clubs and live a normal life.  “Amy” leaves you pondering many questions long after the end credits roll.  I’d give it a 8 out of 10.  Rent or buy from Netflix, Google Play, Amazon or other sites.

Review for “Bad Boys”

Review for “Bad Boys”

Cast: Will Smith as Mike Lowry, Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett, Tea Leoni as Julie Mott

Synopsis:  Two narcotic detectives chase after missing drugs in this comedy-thriller.

 

Will Smith.  Martin Lawrence. Miami, 1990s and Michael Bay.  What do all of those things have in common?  They’re all featured in the movie “Bad Boys” of course.  The cop buddy genre was booming in the 1980s and 1990s.  And “Bad Boys” was just one of many movies in that genre.  It’s fun, funny (mostly) and entertaining, starting two of the top comedy stars of the 1990s, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  This is also the movie that launched Michael Bay’s career.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play complete opposites, of course.  Smith plays the cool, calm, womanizing rich guy Mike Lowery.  Lawrence plays the far less charismatic, stressed-out , family man Marcus Burnett.  Despite their huge differences, they’re best friends and partners on the job.  Both Smith and Lawrence deliver good performances in their roles.  They are very funny in the movie, but the jokes eventually grow old.  Fortunately, that doesn’t happen until later in the film.  They were believable, both separately and together.   As comedians and action stars.  They’re a hoot to watch.  Tea Leoni played the damsel-in-distress.  She was splendid in her part, but kinda underused.  She proved to be quite tough and vulnerable at the same time.  I wished they did more with the character.  Tchevy Karyo played the main villain Bouchet.  He was one terrifying bad guy.  A bit overdone, but still very good.

 

Michael Bay directed “Bad Boys” and its sequel.  He made a movie filled with fast cars, high-speed chases, action and explosions.  I do enjoy those things, but I wish there a bit more substance.  Apparently, this was his directorial debut.  You can hardly tell.  “Bad Boys” had the look of a movie directed by a long-time action movie director.  And that’s what Bay is now.  It looked amazing!

 

This is one those crazy, entertaining, leave-your-brain-at-the-front door movies.  It’s fast, fun and filled with action.  Rent or buy today on Google Play, Amazon or Netflix.  I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

Review for “The Purge: Anarchy”

Review for “The Purge: Anarchy”

Cast:  Frank Grillo as The Sergeant, Carmen Ejogo as Eva, Zoe Soul as Cali, Kiele Sanchez as Liz, Zach Gilford as Shane, Edwin Hodge as The Stranger

 

Synopsis:  The film takes place a year after the prequel, and a group of stranded strangers are forced to come together and fight again against the annual Purge.

 

Okay, the year is 2023.  It’s the 6th anniversary of the annual Purge.  It’s the one day a year you can commit any crime and actually get away with it. But there are no cops, no firefighters, no ambulance.  Pure mayhem all around.  Scary, right?  The crazy thing is crime rates overall have dropped significantly, the economy greatly improved and life seems better overall.  Except for this one night.  This film takes place exactly one year after its predecessor.  And it’s a crazier ride than the first.

All of the actors were convincing in their parts, but no person stood out in a big way.  At least not at first.  The best performance was  from Frank Grillo’s character, The Sergeant.  Out of every one of the characters, we know the least about him.  Who is he?  What’s his angle?  Does he even want to protect Cali, Eve and the others?  Who knows?   Next in line is the cameo-like performance of Michael K. Williams.  He was charismatic and scary as the  anti-Purge leader, Carmelo Jones. Wow. I liked the mother-daughter team, Eve and Cali.  They were played by Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul.  They seemed to be the voices of reason in the movie.  The young couple was good too.  I liked the dynamic of their story, and they both did a good job with their performances.

 

The action is constant in this movie.  You barely get a real chance to get to know the characters.  And that’s actually okay.  One of the best things about Anarchy is that it focuses on more than one group of people.  In the previous film, they only focused on one family.  We see how the Purge affected everyone from the very poor to the very rich.  And it seemed every group was affected in very different ways.  The script was very smartly written by James DeMonaco, who is also the director.  He created a smart, interesting and frightening movie worth a dozen rewatches.

 

“The Purge: Anarchy” is billed as a horror movie in some websites, and a sci-fi movie in others.  Usually, it’s billed as both. It’s morbid a lot of the time, but ultimately entertaining.  It’s like you see both people become animals and human, often at the same time.

I highly recommend “The Purge:Anarchy”.  It’s available on Google Play, Netflix and a host of other places.  If you are interested, watch the prequel as well.  I’d give it a 7.5/10.