The Other Woman

 

Women (and men) who have caught their spouses cheating will enjoy the comeuppance received by deceitful scoundrel Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in The Other Woman. Revenge comes in many forms from the trio of women he’s used and the payback is rough.

Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a New York City attorney having a carefree romance with Mark—until she finds out he is married. Dutiful wife Kate King (Leslie Mann) is shocked to find out that hubby is messing around, but she isn’t overly angry at Carly, because Carly didn’t know he was married.

Kate and Carly become chums. Following a night of alcohol-fueled female bonding, the two follow Mark on a weekend trip to the beach. Conveniently, Kate’s brother Phil (Taylor Kenney) has a beach house near the spot where Mark is cheating with a third woman, Amber (Kate Upton). When Amber learns of Mark’s treachery, the getting even begins.

Coster-Waldau’s credibility as a sleazeball is easy to buy, considering that he also plays the amoral Jaime Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones. That character fathered two sons with his sister, tried to kill a small child and, on the latest episode, committed a particularly vile act.

Leslie Mann has been funny in movies before—mainly in Judd Apatow films since he’s her real life husband. But The Other Woman may be her funniest performance to date.

Also appearing in the film are a weathered-looking Don Johnson as Carly’s dad and Nicki Minaj as Carly’s secretary.

The film may remind you of 1996’s The First Wives Club in which three ex-wives seek to make life less happy for the husbands who dumped them for younger babes. In The Other Woman the take down is complete and funny.

Nick Cassavetes is the director. His best-known film is The Notebook, a love story that’s a favorite of many romantics. The Other Woman isn’t quite so touching, but its resolution should be satisfying to most women moviegoers.

And for the guys, we get a few seconds of Kate Upton running in slow motion on the beach. (Thanks, Nick!)

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Transcendence

Transcendence is a mess. When producers pay Johnny Depp $20M (+ a percentage), as has been reported, one expects a significantly better product.

Will Caster (Depp) is a computer geek working in the world of Artificial Intelligence. He is shot by anti-tech activists who oppose his mission. He survives the wound, but the bullet is coated with materials that lead to his gradual demise.

His wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max (Paul Bettany), who work alongside him, transfer his intellect to computer drives. When Will communicates via computer screen following his death, the plot begins to unfold.

Sadly, the story is weak and poorly told. None of the characters in the film, including Will, are worth caring about. Transcendence lasts just over 2 hours but seems much longer.

For all the philosophical questions about the ascent of technology the film purports to raise, the framing of those issues is muted by a lack of basic film making skill. Yes, it has many cool images and some nice effects but they’re not sufficient to make the film compelling.

The name Johnny Depp will sell enough tickets to justify his huge paycheck. The name Christopher Nolan as a producer may attract fans of Inception and Memento into movie houses. The fact that rookie director Wally Pfister has worked as Nolan’s cinematographer may also lure fans to the box office. But Transcendence is not a good movie.

For the past 20 years, any Johnny Depp movie was, for me, a movie I wanted to see—just because his onscreen work has been consistently entertaining. Even films like The Tourist and The Rum Diary were made worthwhile by his presence. Now, after last year’s Lone Ranger and this new release, a Depp film is no longer a “must see” for me.

Transcendence is not the worst movie of 2014. But it is the most disappointing so far.

 

 

Draft Day

For hardcore NFL fans, Draft Day is a must see. The entire story takes place on NFL Draft day. Draft Day starts slowly. The movie, happily, builds picks up speed along the way and come to a satisfying ending.

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. He holds a high pick but wants to parlay it into something better. He’s on the phone with fellow NFL GMs trolling for deals and seeking info. Meanwhile he’s dealing with all the other characters in his workplace world.

Ali (Jennifer Garner) is the team’s salary cap manager. She’s also Sonny’s live-in girlfriend. Coach Penn (Dennis Leary), who flashes the Super Bowl ring he earned as a Cowboys assistant, wants to have a say in the team’s picks. Team owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) gives Sonny plenty of leeway to make his moves—as long as they have a positive outcome.

Weaver’s father, a former Browns head coach, has died just a few days before draft day, which leads to a bit of family drama with his mom (Ellen Burstyn).

As the day progresses, leading up to the draft at Radio City, questions are asked and answered about certain players. It seems unrealistic that a team would still be investigating a player’s character at the last minute—considering all the intelligence that’s gathered for months leading up to the draft.

Chadwick Boseman, who starred a year ago as Jackie Robinson in 42, gives a likeable performance as a collegiate linebacker who’s hoping to go high. Sam Elliott has a brief role as the head football coach at Wisconsin.

Draft Day features several real life individuals. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is played by… Roger Goodell! TV talking heads in the movie include Chris Berman, Jon Gruden, Deion Sanders, Rich Eisen and Mel Kiper.

Two production touches I liked: The flyover beauty shots of several NFL stadiums look terrific on screen. And the way director Ivan Reitman handles split screen shots during Sonny’s several draft day phone calls is clever. (Reitman was director of Ghostbusters, Stripes, Kindergarten Cop, Meatballs and many others.)

As Weaver wheels and deals, tension builds, leading up to the actual picking of the players. The drama of the choosing—seen from several points of view—is greater than was expected.

This is the 3rd Costner movie in the last 3 months and, by far, the most entertaining. As mentioned earlier this year, Costner is an actor enjoyed by men and women. While men may want to see this film because of its football story, women should be able to enjoy the Sonny-Ali relationship and the many conflicts between various characters.

Draft Day will make NFL fans anxious for the draft to begin and will serve as a reminder of just how entertaining NFL football can be. With the real NFL Draft set for May 8, this film should guarantee a bigger TV audience for the annual ritual.

Yes, releasing Draft Day just 2 weeks into baseball season is a bit of a nose thumb to our former national pastime. But NFL football is big enough to get away with it.