Return to Sender (2015)

Surgery practice!

US / 95 minutes / color / Voltage, Boo, WOC, HW Dir: Fouad Mikati Pr: Candice Abela-Mikati, Holly Wiersma Scr: Patricia Beauchamp, Joe Gossett Cine: Russell Carpenter Cast: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Camryn Manheim, Illeana Douglas, Nick Nolte, Alexi Wasser, Rumer Willis, Stephen Louis Grush, Donna Duplantier, Ian Barford, Billy Slaughter, Scout Taylor-Compton, Jeff Pope, Ryan Phillippe, Liann Pattison.

Sweet hospital nurse Miranda Wells (Pike), though rather cold, is always willing to help—and always level-headed in a crisis. To be sure, she’s a tad over-fastidious and obsessive, a quality she puts to good use in her hobby of baking and decorating intricately crafted cakes but that also manifests itself through her panicky antagonism to using any pens save those of a particular brand (which she orders by the boxful), through her need to clean off public phones before touching them . . . and through her reluctance to meet men with a view to dating.

Rosamund Pike as Nurse Miranda Wells.

Her colleagues and friends Nancy (Manheim), Darlene (Willis) and April (Wasser) are determined to do something to “cure” Miranda of this last idiosyncracy, and after months of trying Darlene has managed to get her to agree to a blind date with a man called Kevin (Slaughter).

The appointed day comes, and Continue reading

Gangster Squad (2013)

US / 113 minutes / color / Village Roadshow, Lin, Kevin McCormick, Warner Dir: Ruben Fleischer Pr: Dan Lin, Kevin McCormick, Michael Tadross Scr: Will Beall Story: Gangster Squad: Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles (2012) by Paul Lieberman Cine: Dion Beebe Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, Michael Peña, Mireille Enos, Troy Garity, Holt McCallany, Sullivan Stapleton, James Carpinello, James Hèbert, Evan Jones, Josh Pence, John Aylward, Jack Conley, Jack McGee, Jon Polito, Yvette Tucker, Ambyr Childers.

Gangster Squad - 4 shock headlines

The opening credits announce that this is based on a true story but, despite the occasional character being based with extraordinary looseness on a genuine historical personage and the LAPD indeed once having had a Gangster Squad (though founded in 1946 rather than 1949 and structurally nothing like this one), the movie is essentially an attempt to adapt the gangster movie into the style of sci-fi shootemups like The Terminator (1984) and its legion of successors. There are also thematic resemblances to pieces like Shichinin no Samurai (1954; vt Seven Samurai), The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Dirty Dozen (1967), in that a small, off-the-books group of (effectively) guerrillas topples a mighty criminal enterprise.

Gangster Squad - 1 Cohen's moll Grace (Emma Stone)

Cohen’s moll Grace (Emma Stone) is open to persuasion to seek comfort elsewhere.

Gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn) has effectively taken over LA and its environs, with half the cops in his pocket, including some high-ranking officers as well as at least one judge, Judge Carter (Aylward). WWII veteran John O’Mara (Brolin), now an LAPD sergeant, spots one of Cohen’s men, Mitch Racine (Hèbert), inveigling a pretty newcomer to Hollywood (Childers) back to a hotel for a gang rape; O’Mara very violently busts the joint open and Continue reading

Company You Keep, The (2013)

US / 122 minutes / color (with brief bw in the form of archive and faux-archive footage) / Voltage, Wildwood, Brightlight, Kingsgate, TCYK, Sony Dir: Robert Redford Pr: Nicolas Chartier, Robert Redford, Bill Holderman Scr: Lem Dobbs Story: The Company You Keep (2003) by Neil Gordon Cine: Adriano Goldman Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Jacqueline Evancho, Gabrielle Rose.

Decades ago, during the horrific height of the Vietnam War, the Weathermen, or Weather Underground, were at the cutting edge of domestic protest against it; they were classified by the authorities as terrorists, although later judgement of their activities tends to be kinder. According to the backstory of this movie, one of their crimes was a bank robbery in which a security guard was shot dead; the perpetrators have been on the run ever since.

The movie starts with the arrest by the FBI of one of those perpetrators, Sharon Solarz (Sarandon), now the respected pillar-of-the-community mother of teenage kids; she has in fact been on her way to NYC to give herself up, but the FBI, having caught wind of this through wiretaps, decided to seek kudos by pre-empting her. Her friend from the old radical days, Billy Cusimano (Root), tries to enlist public-spirited lawyer Jim Grant (Redford) for her defense, but he declines, pleading that, recently widowed, he has to focus on rearing his 11-year-old daughter, Isobel “Izzy” (Evancho).

Izzy (Jacqueline Evancho) and her Uncle Daniel (Chris Cooper) confronted by the FBI.

Into the picture stumbles brattish local journalist Ben Shepard (LaBeouf) of the Albany Sun–Times, eager to make a name for himself. He manages to dig out evidence that “Jim Grant” is in fact Nick Sloan, wanted by the FBI as Continue reading