Charlize Theron

Long Shot

First Hit: Although there some hilarious bits, I didn’t buy the premise of these two being their characters.

The storyline is for the audience to believe that Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the current Secretary of State for President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk). The President is more interested in a movie career than being President, and so his staff is really running the country. Although the film makes attempts, Fields character as Secretary, isn’t quite established well enough for me. Something was slightly missing.

On the other side of the story, we have Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) who is supposed to be an independent journalist writing for an online publication. He only cares about what he perceives to be the truth and because he writes well and is willing to put himself in awkward positions, there is a self-righteousness to his character that comes across as a bit snarky.

To set up Flarsky as indeed someone willing to do anything to get the story, we find him in the process of becoming a member of a white supremacist group. In the induction meeting, he’s supposed to pledge hatred for Jews (although he’s sitting there - obviously a Jew) and gets goaded into getting a swastika tattoo. While getting the tattoo, one of the members finds out he’s really a journalist and is impersonating wanting to become part of the group. He escapes. This set-up is filled with both funny and vile setups and statements of hatred.

Fields is beautiful, smart, and powerful while Flarsky is schlubby, somewhat full of himself – regarding the truth as he sees it, and ill-mannered. Because of his self-aggrandizing ways, he quits his job when a tasteless publication company buys out the publication he works.

In his sadness and anger, he contacts Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) his longtime best friend who consoles him by inviting him to an upscale gathering after taking him to a few bars to imbibe him.

There Flarsky sees Field who he recognized as his old baby sitter when he was 12 years old. They liked each other then, but the storyline has him recall getting an erection when they kissed. The film spends a bit too much time talking about this and in the end, I’m sure it wasn’t needed for the overall story.

Fields hires him as a speechwriter (first to punch up her humor quotient) and as they work together, he becomes more of her full-time writer. As they work together, they grow to know each other, just as they did as children.

The other side of the slightly overdone plot was the President who spends his time running lines in his office and watching his past performances as a President on a television program. The flippant way in which the President, Secretary of State and the people who work for them acted became something that, in the end, didn’t work for me.

Many of the political aspects and situations portrayed in this movie were pointedly reflective of today’s political environment and current office holders. The story also points out how exploitive publishers act.

Some of the amusing bits include when Fields team discusses her strengths and weaknesses. Also what happens to the tattoo Flarsky got at the suprematist meeting. Another hilarious scene was when the Prime Minister of Canada James Steward (Alexander Skarsgard) shares with Fields how he’s had to learn how to laugh.

As everyone in the audience knows that having Flarsky and Fields falling in love is a Long Shot, the story does end up in its prescribed ending.

Theron is solid as a comedic actress in this role and is absolutely stunning on the screen. Rogen is Rogen. He’s the same character in every film, and my general dislike of his character or personality continues here. June Diane Raphael (as Fields assistant Maggie) is strong. I liked how she pushed her agenda on to Fields. Ravi Patel (as Tom, another Fields assistant) is good. His subservient nature to Maggie was funny. Skarsgard was really funny, especially when he’s showing Fields how he learned how to laugh properly. Jackson Jr. was solid as Flarsky’s black conservative motivational friend. Odenkirk was silly and hilarious as a President who wanted to be a film star. Tristan D. Lalla as Agent M, Fields bodyguard, was outstanding. His sly looks while doing his job were precious. Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah wrote this screenplay. It pushed the edge of being overtly gross more than it needed to be. Jonathan Levine directed the film. I thought many of the scenes were clever, but then when they are pushed towards being overtly overdone, it made me wonder.

Overall: The amusing bits outweighed the overtly unpolished parts.

Tully

First Hit: I was genuinely surprised by the ending of this powerful film about motherhood.

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is 9 months pregnant, mother of two other children Emmy (Maddie Dixon-Poirer) and Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), and wife to Craig (Mark Duplass). The family home is rather chaotic and stems, in-part, because of Jonah’s “quirky” presence and because motherhood has wiped her out and taken her spirit.

Craig is a good husband, it is apparent that he loves his wife and does support the family process by doing their children’s homework with them and helping Marlo to make the children’s lunches. There is a scene towards the end of the film that shows this sweetness and togetherness.

Marlo’s brother Drew (Ron Livingston) has made it financially and as his new baby gift to his sister offers to pay for a night nanny to assist his worn-out sister.

She resists because she perceives that this will show weakness and a lack of ability. After the new baby arrives, her worn out life gets worse and there is little she can do given the pressure of Jonah’s school is asking her to remove Jonah because of his “quirky” behavior, along with trying to meet the new baby’s needs.

She resigns herself to making the call to a night nanny. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives one evening with a bright open smile, lots of empathy, and skills far beyond her age of 26. Each evening Tully arrives and takes over the care of the new baby Mia. She brings Mia up to Marlo for the night feedings, sits and watches until the feeding is complete, and takes Mia back downstairs.

Tully, also cleans the house, bakes cupcakes and does lots of other things that release Marlo from the heaviness of raising a newborn at night. Because she’s now getting sleep, Marlo becomes more present and active with her children and starts to make elaborate meals for her family instead of the “frozen pizza” dinner she often throws down.

Tully and Marlo become friends and what they share together slowly reveals who Marlo is, who Tully is, and Marlo's love for Craig.

This film speaks directly and pointedly to the difficulties many women have being a mother. For this alone, many men need to see this film.

Theron is dynamic in this role. Not only did she put on about fifty pounds to make the role feel real for her and the audience, her embodiment of the frustration of raising children was spot on. Davis as Tully was amazing. I loved her joyful embrace of being an empathetic, smart, supportive nanny. Duplass was very good as the caring loving husband who needed to learn more about helping his wife. Dixon-Poirer was wonderful as the daughter. Her slow emerging as part of the family was great. Fallica was excellent as the quirky young boy. His ability to slowly evolve as Marlo evolves was perfect. Diablo Cody wrote an excellent script and the film’s direction by Jason Reitman made this story come alive through great acting.

Overall: I was truly moved by the representation of motherhood, family, and life as this film unfolded.

Gringo

First Hit: This was a quirky film that I liked more than I thought I would with a few over the top scenes.

I didn’t know what to expect from this film and that was a good thing.

The premise is that Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton) and Elaine Markinson (Charlize Theron) run a pharmaceutical company that is struggling to survive. Working for them is Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) who is a close friend of Richard.

Harold oversees their drug producing operations in Mexico. Unbeknownst to Harold, Elaine and Richard have made a deal to sell the company and a new formula to someone else. However, another group knows about this new formula that will make someone a lot of money. This formula is in a safe in the Mexican operational building.

Additionally, Harold is out of the loop about his wife, who has asked him for a divorce. He doesn’t know that his wife is having an affair with Richard.

Despondent over his impending divorce, and discovering his bosses do not support him, he quits his job and plans to disappear in Mexico.

Throughout all this, the deal with the purchasing pharmaceutical company is falling apart, the formula has been stolen and warring factions are brought into play. Then Richard hires his mercenary brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley), to find Harold, kill him if needed, and help resolve the theft.

All of this sets up situations that are both suspenseful and over the top funny. Some of the funniest scenes are with Elaine as she uses her sexuality to lure people to decide things her way.

Edgerton was good as the sex charged company man. Theron was over the top funny and bawdy in her portrayal of Markinson who wanted to get ahead using any means possible. Oyelowo was very funny as the trusting husband and employee believing that if he worked hard and obeyed all the laws, he’d be successful. The ending helps this ongoing riff. Copley was great and over the top and a skilled mercenary. Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone wrote this quirky screenplay that I enjoyed. Nash Edgerton did a fine job of getting the actors to engage in this film.

Overall: This film had enough laughs and engaging scenes to make it worth its’ while.

Atomic Blonde

First Hit:  Action filled with Charlize Theron showing strong fighting skills.

Although this film is done in a flashback mode, following the story is not hampered. Although, as the film unfolded and after the end, I wondered how it would have played out if it was done sequentially?

The film begin by showing agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) being interviewed by her boss Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA department head Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) while Gray’s boss Chief ‘C’ (James Faulkner) watches this behind glass. Lorraine is badly bruised but being sure of her story, she begins telling it.

She starts the interview with talking how she was sent to Berlin to find and obtain “The List” which has been put on microfiche and stored inside a watch. The list has information about each agent in British Intelligence and possibly the CIA, where they are and their possible covers.

Immediately after getting to West Berlin she gets attacked by Russians who what to kill her because they are the ones who are trying to obtain "the list" at all costs. Her contact and co-agent is David Percival (James McAvoy), however, the audience sees that Percival is sabotaging Lorraine’s attempt to obtain the watch (list). The one who put this list together and stored it in a watch has a code name and it’s Spyglass (Eddie Marsan). He’s doing this because he wants to trade giving up the list for freedom to West Berlin.

As the story unfolds and until the end, the audience thinks David is on multiple sides but so is Lorraine, it is just that the audience doesn't know how many she’s on.

Lorraine gets involved in so much fighting, shooting and stabbing that I can only imagine that she was really sore after doing this film.

One of the things I loved about this film was the color mood used to present this film. Everything was muted down from a color perspective. This in honor of being in both West and East Berlin at the time the wall comes down between the two parts of the city.

Theron was amazing in how she used her body and gave the audience a perception that she fights for a living. I loved her character and at times I laughed out loud in the audacity of some of the scenes. McAvoy was strong and his smart-alecky version of the character worked for me. Jones was perfect as Lorraine’s boss. Marsan was very good as the meek Spyglass. Goodman was very good as the CIA connection. Kurt Johnstad wrote an wild and fun screenplay. David Leitch had a clear vision in mind and for me it clearly worked well.

Overall:  It was a fun film and Theron was a joy to watch.

the Fate of the Furious

First Hit:  With improbable situations, circumstances and action, it was funny enough to make me stay till the end. There is very little about this film that is remotely believable. I won’t mention them here but when you watch it, you’ll know what I mean.

Somehow in the saga of these Furious films, Dom (Vin Diesel) grew close to someone which created a situation where the result has him go against his "family." Anyone who’s seen these series of films, Dom makes “family” the main thing that no one goes against. So, for Dom to go against his family, the situation must be a big deal.

Introducing him to this situation is Cipher (Charlize Theron) whose role is to be the smartest person on the planet, wants to control the world by living on a plane using high tech tools and have the ability to take control of any computer on the planet. By doing so she plans to use Dom to carry out some of her physical missions and she has just the motivation to make him turn away from family.

The government intelligence agency headed by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new underling Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) want to find out why Dom stole a concussion device. To do this they pull the rest of the family together and add Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard (Jason Statham) to the mix and spare no expense in wrecking expensive cars, tanks, and guns to find Dom, and why he betrayed “family”.

One of the funniest themes through the film was why Tej (Chris “Ludicris” Bridges) was only ranked 11th on the most wanted list. He throws a fit about this throughout the film.

With no expense held back on making a film that blows up a whole bunch of stuff, wrecking a fleet full of cars, has a submarine chasing cars, and kills a pile of people, F. Gary Gray took Chris Morgan’s script and made it fun.

Diesel was good. I’m not much of a fan of his character because it is always the same one no matter the film. Theron makes a very good bad girl. She pulled this off and was believable (or as believable as one could make this part) enough to not have me cringe. Russell is great. I loved his popping in and out of the film bringing lightheartedness and smarts. Eastwood is fun as the new agent learning the ropes. Johnson is, well, Johnson. His brutishness and size, especially when he’s walking through the prison in the orange jumpsuit, says it all. He can be intimidating. Statham, although not the size of either Diesel or Johnson, has a look and swagger that makes him an equal of the other two in perceived strength. Bridges is really fun and whether he’s unhappy at being 11th or in the cold weather, he makes everyone smile. Michelle Rodriguez as Letty is carrying on the role she created in the earlier films. She does tough/soft well. Tyrese Gibson as Roman does a great job of being the guy who thinks things through for the team. Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey is a perfect complement to Gibson’s "Roman" as part of the team’s brain trust. Morgan’s script was haphazard, had holes in it, and didn’t tie together well but it was fun. Gray must have had fun directing this crew given the script he had.

Overall:  Do not expect this film to make much sense, but it is funny enough, and has enough fun chases to keep you in your seat.